Childhood is a time of wonderment and imagination. There are no rules and no laws, and that's part of what makes children's books so incredibly weird. Don't get me wrong; I love magic and fairytales, but occasionally my adult brain gets the better of me and I can't suspend reality long enough to stop WTFing at everything my kids ask me to read. Today I'm scratching my head about a classic: Clifford The Big Red Dog.
There have been many iterations of Clifford -- I have at least 15 of the books and there's a whole multi-season television show on PBS -- but I'm talking about the origin story of this fire-colored hell beast. In it, we're introduced to Clifford and his sidekick, Emily Elizabeth. I would call her his owner, but does anyone really own a dog that big? Emily occasionally talks about 'friends,' but it's usually just to laugh at them and their normal, non-steroidal animal companions. She says over and over again that she has the best, biggest, reddest, most doggiest dog in the history of dogs, and I have a few questions for her about that:
1. First of all, why is he red?
I mean, not to harp too much on the obvious here, but Crayola Red is kind of an unusual shade for an animal. On, like, page four of the book Emily starts talking about how other kids have red dogs too, but hers is the best. I disagree, Emily. No one has an actual red dog. Where are all these red dogs coming from? Do you guys live near toxic waste? Have you considered ground water contamination? It could also account for his size. Do I need to call Erin Brockovich?
2. Speaking of Clifford's size, who thought that was a good idea?
It's not addressed in the book, but the theme song to the show suggests Emily's "love" is what made Clifford grow so big and Wikipedia confirms an estimated height of 25 feet. Her parents are just cool with that? I guess they'd have to be since Clifford could crush their bones with a single paw, but I, for one, would like to know what exactly Emily's love concoction contains that is yielding such startling results. I'd also like to know if she's considered marketing it to professional athletes as a safer alternative to Performance Enhancing Drugs.
3. Of course, that brings us to poop.
Oh, sorry, I forgot the question mark on that because there's no doubt about it: that dog can POOP. Personally, I think Norman Bridwell could've written an entire book devoted to Clifford's poop, but his publisher probably would've frowned upon that so now it's up to me to ask the tough questions. Where does it go? How much warning, on average, does the town get before it hits? Is there some sort of emergency alert system in place to let people know it's time to evacuate, and doesn't it get costly shutting the town down once or twice a day and four times on Thanksgiving?
4. Does the town have a problem with hunters?
I mean, other exotic beasts are hunted to near extinction. Surely Clifford would pique their interest. I imagine there are bullets and stray arrows flying constantly. Emily Elizabeth probably needs a full security detail every time she leaves the house, and that's provided Clifford is left at home in his military-grade, bullet-proof dog house with locked iron gate and surrounding moat filled with crocodiles. I can't imagine what hell awaits when he leaves the house, unless all the hunters have been evacuated with the rest of the town in anticipation of Clifford's poo-nado.
That brings me to my final question:
5. How does Emily Elizabeth finance Clifford's continued existence?
We live in the age of the internet and I'm sure some bleeding hearts would be more than willing to set up a Go Fund Me for Clifford and his hostages family if he existed today, but you'd also have to shield them from the hunters, curious scientists, Fox News calling him Satan and imploring their viewers to attack, and congress drafting bills to execute him via firing squad and add Clifford Meat to school lunches to spite Michelle Obama.
The resources and amount of protection Emily Elizabeth and her family would need could only be financed by a TLC reality show, which of course would result in the dissolution of their family and Clifford would be left to his own devices, brutally murdered by Sarah Palin, and put on display at a gun show. Emily Elizabeth would blow her fortune on plastic surgery after an appearance on Dancing With The Stars and eventually write a tell-all memoir called Love Overgrown: The Clifford Story with a forward by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt.
Face it, you guys. There's no happy ending here.