EDITOR'S NOTE:  The following excerpt is taken from the prologue of Mark Steele's third book, Christianish. ©2009 Cook Communications Ministries.  Used with permission.  May not be further reproduced.  All rights reserved.

At approximately three o’clock, on an otherwise uneventful afternoon, random disaster landed in my living room, scarring my wife’s affenpinscher permanently. In a collision of arbitrary calamity—the sort of incident one reads about in a James Frey memoir but does not believe—my wife accidentally cut off our dog’s tongue with a pair of grooming scissors.



Grooming scissors.

The dog was named Scout in honor of the little girl in To Kill a Mockingbird, though he is neither a girl nor currently inside any fancy books. It must first be respectfully noted that the dog’s tongue is his talent. It is his method of showing affection, and he wields it with a flourish like the caricature artist on the boardwalk waves pastel chalk before sketching your oversized head on the body of a miniscule muscleman. Scout’s lick was his love. It was all he really knew how to do—that tongue was his Sistine Chapel.

Of all the human beings who could have fathomably been the bearer of this specific catastrophic misstep toward my dog—a cutlery juggler, a careless balsa whittler, the lady who runs the paper shredder at Kinko’s—the least likely and the worst emotional choice is the human who actually did the deed. That would be my wife, Kaysie.

The reason Kaysie is the worst choice as the cause of this particular accident is because there is not a human soul on the planet who loves the dog more. In fact, the atrocity occurred during an act of kindhearted affection. Kaysie was grooming Scout with great precision and detail—prettying him up because, after all, he is named after a girl. She was only slightly distracted by the fact that her back was aching, she was about to leave town for five days, and she had just received word that a loved one had passed away. Still, she forged ahead with the necessary grooming. She took a clump of his doggie hair between the blades, and then—just as she squeezed—Scout whipped his face around, jamming his tongue in the middle of the shears themselves.


The rest—as you would imagine—was gross.

Scout was rushed to the vet where they angrily asked how this could have happened. I don’t know how this happened! The dog was licking an envelope while I accidentally slipped it in the paper-shredder. What do you think happened?! The vet quickly gave him ten stitches. Ten. I reiterate this because the vet also reiterated this, making sure we fully understood that Scout was a tiny dog and that he should have never been subjected to such terror. Ten stitches, the vet insisted, were ten stitches too many.

He chewed them all out overnight. The determination was made in the morning that Scout would need to have the dangling participle removed altogether. The tongue-ectomy was performed. A fourth of his slobbering member was omitted. From then on, he yelped with a lisp. It’s a good thing my name is Mark.

So, Kaysie felt horribly and she shouldn’t have, because it wasn’t her fault. It was just the rotten way everything sort of fell together in light of the chaos that was going on around her mixed with the flitting nature of the dog. But that doesn’t change the fact that it did indeed happen. It doesn’t change the fact that Scout’s tongue is now gone for good.

I understand Kaysie’s guilt and grief because I have also played a part in someone’s catastrophe. Several someones, in fact. I have played a part in many needful things being removed.