#10 – A Shitty Excuse for a Dog

I got a puppy for father’s day this year, or so it would seem.   No doubt guilt-ridden over her role in Oedipus’ disappearance, Sophia presented me with a tiny squirming ball of fur this morning.  She told me: “I know you’ve wanted a dog for a long time and we don’t have kids of our own, so Happy Father’s Day!”  

It’s safe to say my response wasn’t precisely the one she expected: “A dog? That’s great! Is this undersized rat the bait to catch it?”  

Sophia sounded less than amused in her reply:  “Hah Hah; very funny.  This is a perfectly fine dog, and you’re gonna love him!” 

To say the least I remained skeptical.  I’d grown up with a huge German Shepherd.  That’s what I considered  a man’s dog; not this miniature pom-pom, whatever it was.  Which prompted my next question: “Exactly what canine breed does this … thing supposedly represent?” 

I could hear the exasperation in Sophia’s voice when she answered:  “Jeez Richard; if you must know, he’s part Shih Tzu and part Yorkie. Satisfied?” 

“You got me a Shitty?” Now I was the exasperated one. 

“I believe the correct term is ‘Shorkie’ or ‘Shorkie Tzu,’ Richard.  Alright, quit your whining and enjoy your new pet.”    

With that she handed me the so-called puppy and walked away, but not before tossing off a parting shot: “Oh honey, don’t even think of calling him ‘Oedipus’ like your iguana. And for the hundredth time, I did not murder and sauté him for dinner. Anyway, I will not embarrass myself again having to explain to friends and family why our pet’s named after an incestuous parent killer! Remember, he’s a little dog, so I don’t want to hear any other equally ridiculous three syllable name either!” 

“Fine!” I yelled toward the back of my wife’s retreating head.  “But he’s my … dog, and I’ll call him whatever I want.”  

Well I showed her.  As directed I didn’t name the critter “Oedipus,” or anything else with three syllables.  Instead I’ve christened him “Prometheus;” you know, after the Titan of Greek Mythology, the one chained to a rock whose liver gets eaten every morning by an eagle only to have it grow back by the end of the day. A distinguished appellation if ever I heard one.  And four syllables no less!

 
Prometh1
My new “dog”

#11 – In Training

Today’s post is a three-parter.  Last night I wrote the first section.  At 4:30 this afternoon, I typed up the final part. And the photos in the middle? Those I took over the course of the day, the exceedingly long day.

Part I – The Plan

Sophia insists on sending Prometheus to obedience school.  Naturally I beg to differ.  As I replied: “Why spend good money paying some self-proclaimed dog guru, when I can train the mutt perfectly well on my own?”  

She didn’t say anything in response; the disdainful rolling of her eyes told me all I needed to know.

My training plan is a simple one.  In my thinking, constant supervision and excessive rules might smother the critter’s personality.  That’s not what I’m shooting for.  As I told Prometheus himself an hour ago (while looking him determinedly in the eye for emphasis): “I expect you to pull your own weight in this training exercise; you tell me when you need to go potty and I’ll take you out.”  

I also showed him a variety of objects I don’t want him chewing on, telling him “no” as I mimed each example of objectionable conduct.  I realize he doesn’t understand English, yet; but I’m pretty sure he got the picture. Without sounding too immodest, I fully expect smooth sailing on the obedience seas.

Part II – Rough Waters

Okay, I’ll admit it; today didn’t run exactly as planned.  They say a picture’s worth a thousand words.  Well these photos certainly speak for themselves.

My Gym Sock
My Gym Sock
Lisa's Wedding Invitation
Lisa’s Wedding Invitation
My Sneaker2
My Sneaker
The door frame
The Door Frame
The Dog Gate
The Dog Gate

Part III – The Upshot

While Prometheus enjoys his fifth time-out of the day, in his crate, I can take a moment to assemble my to-do list for tomorrow.  A moment is all I need … for a list which features only three items:

1) locate obedience school;

2) purchase new sneakers;

3) hire carpenter.

#12 – Short Term Disobedience

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Prometheus must be a blood relative.  At the least, if this morning’s abbreviated session at obedience school is any indication, he certainly displays a Stern-like knack for brewing trouble. 

I’d enrolled the mutt at a doggy boot-camp run by a woman out of her home.  By the time we arrived, several other “students” and their owners had already gathered at a staging area.  In the twenty or so minutes afforded me to evaluate the facility before getting run off the premises, I thought the operation impressive. 

Prometheus immediately took a shine to a Hairless Chihuahua named “Jill.” I couldn’t take my eyes off her either, but for different reasons.  After one glance I opined to myself: this has to be the ugliest friggin dog I’ve ever seen, especially with that ginormous mole on its forehead!  Then I registered a sudden hush within earshot.  A moment later, Jill’s owner commenced berating me for my insensitive and rude statements about her beloved pet.  Once again, my faithless tongue had betrayed me. 

After Jill’s owner finished her oration, focused largely on my place at the bottom of the evolutionary scale, she and I both noticed a plaintive whining from below. We gazed down, only to spy Prometheus making an extremely forward and highly inappropriate attempt to introduce himself to Jill.  As I pried him off Jill’s posterior, I made a mental note to self (and this time I kept it to myself): If this is an example of Prometheus’ taste in women, I better get him neutered ASAP; cause there’s no way I’m bringing home the mole-headed, ass-ugly puppies this idiot’s likely to father! 

Meanwhile, as I ruminated over veterinary appointments, Prometheus managed to extricate himself from his harness and began racing around the compound like a rabid squirrel.  Every other dog but one started barking madly in response.  The exception was “Fenric,”  the school operator’s enormous ancient German Shepherd, who sprawled motionless on a nearby mat imitating road-kill.  On our arrival, his owner had informed all present to simply ignore the untethered beast, claiming solely an act of God could get the old dog to lift his head off the mat (much less expend energy attacking any other animal). 

God must have an odd sense of humor.  After a few circuits around the enclosure, Prometheus suddenly made a beeline toward Fenric.  Upon reaching the supine codger, my little Shitty — in what I can describe only as a canine version of a drive by — bit Fenric squarely on the balls and then paused briefly to admire his handiwork.  Seconds later, as the owner’s husband “escorted” Prometheus and me from the premises, I heard Fenric’s owner telling one of her customers that she hadn’t seen her dog move so much or so fast in years.

Fenric

The moment before the storm

#13 – A Dip in the Pool

First I suppose a short update on Prometheus’ education might be expected.  Last night I borrowed a set of dog training DVD’s from my neighbors (not Lucrecia and Hernando; we’ve avoided each other like the plague since the afternoon everyone realized how badly I keep a secret). The video’s cover advertised the training method as foolproof.  And while the series isn’t actually titled “Dog Training for Dummies,” that’s certainly the implication. Knowing Prometheus and me, all I can say is: “We’ll see.” 

Moving on, the focus of today’s entry concerns my telephone call with Frank this morning.  My wise-ass brother phoned to discuss our sister’s impending nuptials.  More specifically, he wanted my take on some movie titles he’d selected as appropriate labels for Lisa’s engagement and upcoming marriage.  I didn’t think much of his first offering: “Miracle on 34th Street” (a too-obvious reference to the degree of improbability highlighted by Lisa’s engagement IMHO).  However, I did enjoy his second proposal: “The Manchurian Candidate” (an allusion to Lisa’s undoubtedly brainwashed fiancé).  And although admittedly pessimistic and not at all nice, his final selection seemed all too apt: “Kramer vs. Kramer” (an acknowledgment of the questionable viability of Lisa’s marriage, in the unlikely event she reaches the altar this time). 

The “Kramer vs. Kramer” reference brought Frank to the main reason for his call.  As he went on to explain, he’s putting together a pool among family and friends who know Lisa.  Pool entrants have to guess the date on which Lisa or her fiancé officially calls off the engagement (a short window to be sure, since the wedding is scheduled in August two months from now).  Though the idea sounds mean-spirited and overly negative at first blush, and probably at second and third blush too, I knew that wasn’t Frank’s intent.  Much like me he subscribes to the idea of hedging one’s bets in order to soften what otherwise might feel like devastating blows.  We usually apply the theory to sports, gambling against our favorite teams so we can console ourselves with a wad of cash if they lose.  Likewise, neither of us wants Lisa’s engagement to fall apart, but if the worst should happen …? 

Needless to say, I told Frank he could count me in.  I picked July 4, mainly because I like the poetic symmetry of fireworks in the sky paralleling the incendiary argument that’ll terminate Lisa’s engagement.  When I asked him which date he’d chosen, he replied: “I haven’t yet; incidentally, are you planning to come up anytime before the wedding?” 

“Funny, Frank.  Will your pool selection happen to coincide with my arrival date?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he replied.  “I’ll pick the day after.  Even Richard Stern needs a little time to work his black magic!” 

I called Frank a name which rhymes with “docktucker” and hung up.  But even as I did, the thought occurred to me: The clever bastard!  Why didn’t I think of that?

pool

A different kind of pool

#14 – Real Housewives, Lots of Them

I spent some time last night scrolling through the roster of recorded shows on our DVR, all the while bitching at Sophia over the amount of storage space she’d hogged taping episodes from every “Real Housewives” series in existence.  In exasperation I asked her: “Honey, why must you watch the shows from every frigging city that trots out a group of rich, self-centered, silicone-enhanced bimbos?  Can’t you pick one set of tarts and leave space on the DVR for something even minutely less inane?” 

Sophia gave me the old raised eyebrow, as well as “the finger,” before responding: “They’re not ‘inane;’ they’re entertaining.  And no, I won’t choose just one.” 

I knew that tone all too well.  It’s the one I called (but only to myself): I don’t care how little sense I’m making now; I intend to dig my heals in, irrational or not; I’m probably pre-menstrual! 

Though recognizing it as a can’t-win argument, I couldn’t resist further comment: “How can you not see, every one of those shows is the same?  Instead of calling them “The Real Housewives,” the producers should name them ‘Problems of the Rich and Wannabe-Famous, which the Average Joe Can’t Relate to, and also Doesn’t Give Two Shits About.’  If they want to depict real housewives, they should air the ‘Real Ghetto Housewives,’ or the ‘Real Housewives of Trailertown,’ or even the ‘Real Housewives of the Aryan Nation.’  Admit it, wouldn’t you rather see a show featuring a Crack Ho arguing with her illegitimate teenage son after he busts a cap in someone’s ass? And did he also forget to buy formula for his baby, whose name is unpronounceable in any of seven different languages?  You betcha!” 

I won’t repeat what Sophia called me then (mostly because I don’t know how to spell it, and I’m also not a hundred percent sure what it means).  Suffice it to say, she did not compliment my insightful observations. 

Facing defeat, I attempted to salvage a compromise: “Look, aren’t there a bunch of episodes here you’ve already watched?  At the least, can you learn how to use the erase button and start deleting the shows after you’ve seen them?” 

That’s when my wife told me she knew perfectly well how to use the erase button, “now” … after having accidentally deleted an entire group of titles while trying to make room for the Housewife offerings.  Which titles? Only the entire set of classic hockey games I’d recorded over the past six months, intending them to tide me over until the NHL season begins again next fall!  Though not my finest moment, my reflexive response to this casual admission included a number of choice words I won’t repeat (and not merely because I don’t know how to spell them and don’t know exactly what they mean).

real housewife 1 real housewife 2 real houswife 3

The “Real Housewives” I’d rather see

#15 – A Picture of a Camel is Worth a Thousand Words

My other sister, Louise, called last night.  Without beating around the bush, she opened the conversation with: “Richard, I’m thinking of having some work done.” 

“On your house?”  A natural conclusion, in my opinion. 

“Don’t be an idiot Richard.  I’m talking about plastic surgery – as in, I want a boob job.” 

The statement threw me into somewhat of a tizzy.  When it comes to female blood relatives, I consider certain topics strictly off limits or at least worthy of extreme censorship.  Discussions of private parts always fall somewhere in the restricted zone. Thus even though “why?” seemed the obvious response, I hesitated to ask. 

Louise didn’t need any prompting though: “The two of them don’t match anymore, and with Lisa’s wedding around the corner I want them to look their best … for Sam.” 

You’re worried about looking good for Sam – one of the ugliest human beings on the face of the planet?  Blessedly, I didn’t voice that thought.  I did, however, find my tongue at last, cautioning: “Whoa there!  Remember who you’re speaking to Louise.  If you love me, then for God’s sake keep the details to a minimum! Now what the hell are you talking about?” 

Apparently Louise’s definition of “minimal details” differs substantially from mine, as her response demonstrated: “Richard, my nipples point in toward each other like they’re staring.  You’d want a boob job too if you had cross-eyed nipples!” 

I supposed I might, but that was neither here nor there.  All I could focus on was the image instantly seared into my brain – of my sister’s nipples wearing corrective lenses.  Suddenly, I felt an intense desire to terminate our call posthaste.  I tried a tactful withdrawal, telling Louise: “Well, it’s been nice talking to you; if there’s nothing else you really need to say, I’m sure you’ve got important things to do, like me.” 

I guess I shouldn’t have left an opening.  As my sister informed me, she happened to have one other item to discuss.  “That’s not all, Richard.  I’m also having cosmetic surgery on my vagina.  I’m finally going to do something about that camel toe!” 

I hung up then, lamely advising I’d just heard the baby crying.  The fact that I don’t have a baby escaped neither of us, but Louise let me go anyway.  Alas, the damage already had been done.  I haven’t since been able to shake a disturbing image that makes the earlier nipple scene look like a soothing pastoral view in comparison.  While I won’t share the gruesome minutia, I will admit the image involves something named Louise slurping up water at a desert oasis; only Louise is no dromedary.

camel

A camel’s feet


#16 – Holy Mary, Full of Grace, Among Other Things

I’m pretty sure the apocalypse is near.  How do I know?  Because yesterday my in-laws moved into their new home, down the street from ours. They relocated from New Jersey, where there had been a comfortable 800 mile cushion between us. As I see it, my already tenuous relationship with the Gambino clan can only worsen in close proximity.    

Nonetheless, being a guy who likes to put his best foot forward whenever possible (even while tripping over it), I’ve decided to try my darnedest to make the situation work. That’s why I walked to the new abode this morning with our puppy Prometheus in tow.  The little bugger may be nothing more than a jumped-up rodent, but he’s a mighty cute rodent.  Logically, I figured the in-laws would find the dog so adorable that their good cheer might spill over to me.  It sounded like a fine plan, in theory. 

Much to my chagrin, the Virgin Mary was the first to greet us on our arrival.   Dashing my fervent hope she’d remained in New Jersey, the three-foot statue of the Savior’s mother (ensconced in her own stone apse) stood in the middle of the front porch. I should’ve known Sophia’s mom wouldn’t leave Mary behind. Maria Gambino had to be the most zealous Catholic I’d ever met, and the Virgin’s statue as well as several other reliquaries comprised her most treasured possessions.  Holy Mary had occupied a similar place at the Gambinos’ prior abode where – I’d been convinced – she’d always greeted me with deep suspicion.  As I glanced at her while waiting for someone to answer the bell, I didn’t think she looked any happier to see me in Georgia than she did in Jersey. 

Just my luck, Sophia’s mom opened the door.  I immediately pasted on my warmest smile.  I also launched into the brief yet over-the-top “Welcome to Georgia” speech I’d prepared for the occasion, concluding it with: “Prometheus and I both hope you’ll be very happy here!”  

Seeming puzzled, Maria in her thick Sicilian accent asked: “Who’s Prometheus?”  I guessed she hadn’t bothered to gaze down while I’d spoken (although she would’ve had to target my ankles to spot the tiny fur-ball), so she hadn’t yet noticed him. 

Like a hack magician, I flourished my hand in the dog’s general direction while proudly exclaiming: “Maria, meet your new grandson, Prometheus!” 

Maria and I both peered downward at the same time … only to observe Prometheus, hind leg lifted skyward, pissing all over the Virgin Mary.  So much for fresh starts.

virgin mary in grotto

The anointed Virgin


#17 – The U.S. Mail – Through Rain, or Sleet … or Moles?

I received some sad news this morning. One of my best friends from college, Maryanne Phillips, called to tell me her father had passed. I told her the world had lost one of its great characters. I meant it too, having spent a few memorable days in his company long ago, and having experienced firsthand the brunt of his unique brand of humor. 

I met Bill Phillips twenty-six years ago during my sophomore year at college. Maryanne had invited me to spend spring break at her home in Nebraska. After flying to the airport at Omaha, we rented a car and drove two long hours, past endless fields of corn all the way to her town’s border.  There we waited twenty minutes for a herd of cows – honest to goodness cows – to cross the road.  The excruciating journey as well as the sight of the meager town center led me to dub the village of 1,200 souls “West Jibbib” (while mentally adding: you know, the town just north of “East Buttfuck”). 

West Jibbib’s principal gathering spot was Bob’s Diner.  I experienced its charms the morning Bill treated Maryanne and me to breakfast.  Amazingly, much like the TV show “Cheers,” everyone at Bob’s Diner knew each other’s name. They also seemed to know each other’s business, as evidenced by the embarrassingly intimate details of Maryanne’s childhood which a number of diner veterans casually remarked on during our introductions. Bill himself seemed a veritable celebrity at the establishment, probably owing to his nonstop array of improbable though highly amusing fishing anecdotes. 

I knew I’d like Bill from the first minute we met.  When Maryanne and I pulled into her gravel driveway, she spotted her dad tending the family’s sheep (like many of West Jibbib’s residents, Maryanne’s family owned a
farm).  Bill wasted no time introducing a particularly fluffy ewe standing beside him: “Richard, I’d like you to meet Maryanne’s mother, ‘Baahhhrbra.’  Maryanne takes after her, don’t you think?” 

I didn’t know which was funnier: that Bill had named his sheep “Baahhhrbra”; or that his wife’s name actually was Barbara.  In any case, after meeting Baahhhrbra, I couldn’t call Mrs. Phillips by her first name without cracking up.  I still can’t. 

While touring the farm one morning, I came across the carcass of a mole.  Bill told me the property was riddled with them, both live and dead. In response I admitted never having seen a mole before, news which astonished him.  I also jokingly mentioned the “pranks” I could play on my roommates, if only I had possession of a dead mole or two.  Of course, by the end of my visit I’d forgotten that innocent comment. 

A few days after classes resumed, I returned to my apartment and found a package wrapped in plastic sitting atop my desk.  On closer examination, I discovered a handwritten note taped to the box.  The note was from the mailman.  It read: “If you ever try to mail something like this again, you’ll be prosecuted.” 

Inside the package I found the reason for the plastic wrap.  A shoebox contained the decomposing corpses of four moles.  The box also held a card from Bill.  Though I wouldn’t dare touch it (being half-covered in mole juice), I could read its short message well enough: “Richard, there are plenty more where these came from if you need ’em.” 

Yeah, Bill was one of a kind.  The world seems a duller place without him.

 

Dead_mole

A somewhat dead mole

#18 – Bad Dog!; or is it Good Dog?

After returning from work yesterday, Sophia called me into the bedroom, pointed at the underwear she was wearing and somewhat neutrally requested: “Richard, take a look at these panties.” 

She didn’t have to ask twice.  Nor did I need much time to spot the obvious: a prominent, ideally-situated slit in the apparel.  Judging by Little Richard’s immediate reaction, I guessed my childhood exposure to a similar item had not in fact scarred me for life as I’d feared.  I snapped out of my reverie long enough to tell Sophia: “Wow Honey!  Now that’s what I call spicing up our love life.  Hold on a minute while I find my special pills and turn on the stereo.  Then I can take an even closer ‘look’ at your undies.”  I emphasized the last line with my best lurid wink. 

Before I moved an inch Sophia responded, no longer sounding the least bit neutral.  To the contrary, she fairly yelled at me: “What the? Richard, these are not split crotch panties!!!  At least they weren’t before this morning, when your dog apparently redesigned them for me!  These are ‘Demaris’ panties for God’s sake; $240 Demaris panties! How could you have let Prometheus ruin them?” 

I  (or, more precisely, myself and the two internal personas I sometimes converse with) considered three very different potential responses to Sophia’s harangue. 

Never one to accept unjust blame, I felt inclined to protest: Why is it my fault the dog ate your panties?  You’re the one who left them within his reach. 

Adopting a somewhat different tack, Rational Richard (the personality who represents my logical side) proposed: You paid $240 for underwear?!! 

Not unexpectedly, my tallywhacker Little Richard (a man of action, not words) went in an entirely different direction.  He didn’t want to say anything to Sophia, advising Rational Richard and me: Never mind the piddling issues of fault and cost; we can worry about those later; for now let’s grab the Levitra and get down to business! 

Rational Richard and I both agreed: That Little Richard sometimes makes awful good sense.  

Alas, before we could enact Little Richard’s plan, Sophia vented further displeasure: “Do you want to know how I discovered the dog’s mistreatment of my panties?  This morning I put them on, in the locker room at the gym, in front of three other women! One of them even winked at me … the same way you just did!”

So much for Little Richard’s proposal.  Instead — “You spent $240 on underwear?!!!”

PAAAIALKLBBNNKMG-BLACK

#19 – Forget You? No, F**k You, Most Definitely!

I like the Cee Lo Green song, “Forget You.”  I positively love its unsanitized version, “F**k You.”  That’s the one I downloaded and burned a few weeks ago along with some other current tunes I fancy.  After popping the shiny new CD into my car’s player, I listened to it nonstop for a solid week. Then, in typical fashion I forgot about it. 

Yesterday, the CD’s existence and contents were recalled to my attention by Sophia’s sister-in-law Gina. She’d sent her car off for servicing, and I’d graciously lent her my own so she could drive her three-year-old daughter to a doctor’s appointment. Frankly, I fail to understand how Gina’s decision to take Grandma along for the ride and the consequences of said choice get pinned on me. I’d turned off the radio two weeks earlier and hadn’t powered it up since.  And I’m not the one who left her mother-in-law and toddler alone together in the vehicle for several minutes with the engine running. 

How can it be my fault that the technologically-challenged old woman who gave birth to my wife inadvertently pressed the radio’s power button, while absorbed in rearranging her voluminous pocketbook?  Or that it took her a full three minutes to figure out how to turn the unit off again after music began playing? And why blame me for the simple, though admittedly unfortunate, coincidence of the tune blaring from the stereo happening to be none other than Cee Lo Green’s chart-topper? 

I think you can guess my answer to each of those questions. However,  I suppose when a mother steps into a car and hears her precocious three-year-old singing “Fuck you, and Fuck her too!” at the top of her lungs – while accompanying each “F” phrase with separate, disturbingly appropriate stares at her mommy and grandma – there has to be a scapegoat.

cee lo green

Little chance I’ll forget you, Cee Lo Green