“What’s a debate?”
“A debate can be a lot of things, Fido, but basically it is when two people with different ideas engage in argument under a certain set of agreed-upon rules.”
Fido thought about this for a moment or two.
“Why don’t they just bark at each other?” he wanted to know. “That works for me, and lots of other dogs around here.”
“They do, in that human kind of way. Sometimes they have a little coyote yip in their voices; sometimes they let loose with a basso profondo. But you’re right. It’s basically just barking at each other.”
“Does the winner get anything, like a biscuit?”
“Yes, Fido, the winner gets votes, and months from now, both sides will be chewing on the result, over and over and over again.”
“So the debate never ends?”
“No, Fido. The debate never ends.”
“I want to have a debate and win the everlasting biscuit.”
“OK, Fido, on election day, which side of the road do you want to walk—the right or the left?”
“Always the left,” Fido said. I was amazed at the swiftness of his reply.
“In the spring, when the snow melts,” Fido reasoned, “the left side gets more sun than the right side, and there are better sniffs!”
“That’s not always true,” I said. “There are many exceptions to that.”
“Not for me!” Fido cried. “Hey hey hey hey!” He paused. “OK, another question, please.”
“All right you big red lug, if we were walking together and I had a hat, which color would you prefer? Red or blue?”
“Neither!” said Fido. “I would ad- vise you to try something in a puce. It’s neutral.”
“If we were debating, Fido, I’d argue against all your answers and come up with alternative answers. To be fair, those weren’t really debate questions. Debate questions usually are philosophical. Here in the U.S. of A., the questions tend toward the political, especially this time of year.”
“Like why we have to pay a fee for dog tags?”
“That’s a good one, Fido. You would argue we shouldn’t have them because that might cut into your biscuit stash. I would argue yes, we should, because sometimes dogs require special attention from the town, sometimes medical, and the town needs to pay for it somehow. It’s the same with leash fees and so on. Dogs have to be on a leash in Mammoth.”
“I’m against that,” Fido said. “Leashes can be expensive, and that means fewer biscuits for me.”
“I will concede the point,” said I, “and it might get even more expensive. We have some new people in town who say they’re going to come in here and steal all the leashes they can find, then sell them on the side to line their own pockets.”
“What’s it called?” Fido wanted to know.
“It’s called the Mammoth Lakes Leash Acquisition, Inc., and they don’t give a hoot about your biscuits.”
“Well, I’m against the MLLA,” Fido said.
“Everybody is, Old Boy. You win.”