A Snapshot of Marriage

As some of you know, I’m married. As those of you who are married know, marriage is defined as “a relationship wherein you are yolked to a person until one or both of you dies, characterized by vacillating feelings of intense love, disgust, and loathing.”

Last night, I was making gravy. As those of you who make gravy know, gravy is defined as “an amalgamation of starch, fat, and liquid which, if you turn your back, will congeal or break and ruin your f*cking day.”

It’s not the easiest thing to accomplish. The fats must be right. The thickener must be right. It must simmer and reduce for the right amount of time. It’s not difficult per se, but it requires finesse.

Enter my husband.

CARTER: I’m gonna stir it, babe!

ME: It doesn’t need to be stirred.

CARTER: It’s fine. I’m gonna whisk it.

ME: Please don’t touch it. It’s reducing. It doesn’t need to be stirred.

CARTER: I’m gonna do it. Babe, you just don’t have the culinary instincts that I have.

ME: Dont. Touch it.

CARTER: Give it a little whisk, a little stir, babe. I’m gonna.

ME: I’m gonna crazy person murder you.

CARTER: Well that seems a bit harsh.

ME: Will you hand me a knife?

CARTER: What kind?

ME: A sharp one.

CARTER: Well, not now.

ME: Babe, I need a knife. I have to cut this broccoli.

CARTER: You just told me you were going to, and I quote, “crazy person murder” me and now you’re asking me to hand you a sharp knife.

ME: I can’t right now. You know that. You don’t have any money to dig.

CARTER: Ah, yes. Your plans to dig my gold. You know you’re the worst gold digger ever, babe. Right?

ME: It’s the long con, my love. I’m in it for the long con.

 

Disclosure: I would never harm this man. Well, I would eat the last piece of Havarti on purpose and I hope to live to be in my eighties just to spite him. But I would never, ever harm him and he knows this. I may be prone to theatrics and exaggeration. It’s my nature. Don’t you dare judge me.

As for the gold digging, contrary to what he says, I am not the worst gold digger in the world. After all, I get to sit around in my satin pajamas stained sweatpants while I eat bonbons do homework and start a home business and sip on champagne all morning lukewarm coffee all day. So, yea, I think I’m doing pretty well for myself.

Marriage. Lifetime Original Movies, you’re doing it wrong.

Pay no attention to that sobbing woman in the corner.

Credit: Hyperbole and a Half

Apparently, I’m a crier now.

Once upon a time, I approached life with the measured rationality of a German or, as Tiny Fey so aptly puts, the torpor of a possum. Certainly, I cried when life threw giant curveballs my way – death, loss, extreme duress. Naturally.

I didn’t, however, get weepy at such silly things as thank-you cards, butterflies, or not being able to tie my running shoes tightly enough. But now? Now, I am a crier, my friends, and I f*cking hate it.

It wasn’t a gradual thing either. One day, possum status. The next, I was at dinner relaying information about gluten free flours and just started crying.

Apparently garbanzo bean flour kicks me in the feelings. Hard.

It’s getting bad – like, Kim Kardashian Crying Meme bad. Last week, when pulling out of our driveway, I commented on the fact that, due to the ice storm, the neighborhood had to cut down half of the trees in front of our house. “Oh no, Jo!” I exclaimed, “Your one beauty!”

All of us in possession of ovaries know that quote is from Little Women. Carter, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your persuasion, does not possess ovaries and, therefore, did not know the quote’s origin. Thus, I relayed the entire plot of Little Women to him. Because of course.

I say that I relayed the entire plot, but that’s hardly true. I got to the part where Beth died and recited the whole “Now I’m the one going ahead” soliloquy, which I know by heart, and just lost it.

Sidebar: For those of you shrieking and pulling your hair because I didn’t shout “Spoiler Alert” before spilling the beans that Beth kicks the bucket, the book is more than 100 years old. You’ve had time. Don’t try to tell me you haven’t. And if you shrieking maniacs are women who have gotten this far in life without reading Little Women, well, I don’t even know if I can look at you anymore. ….through this screen. *sigh*

Don’t even get me started on the Budweiser commercial with the puppy and the clydesdale who are best friends. I saw it on tv the other day and sobbed inconsolably for 15 minutes. And while, yes, I know I’m prone to exaggeration, let me assure you that I mean that I cried for a very literal 15 minutes.

In fact, here is my crying log. I created it because, for the last 15 years of my life, my eyes didn’t leak very often. The startling regularity of this event of late has made me curious and, like any amateur scientist, curiosity means the rigorous collection of data. Or at least that’s what I think I remember from high school chemistry. Here is my log, complete with the cause of the crying and then, in column B, how long I wept without hope of consolation while clutching my beagle and making my really ugly sobbing face.

Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 9.11.30 PM
I can’t even talk about this whole Olympic thing. I was at home when Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold in ice dancing and started sobbing because she looks just like a Disney princess and he looks like the male human version of Lola and, somehow, the combination of those two facts turns me into a crumpled heap of Slanket-wearing hysteria.

Before any of you scream “pregnant!,” allow me to assure you that I know, for a fact, that I am not. How do I know? I am a compulsive taker of pregnancy tests. It’s pretty much my superpower, though that is a topic deserving of its own post. Someday, my loves. Someday I will give you the full view into my crazed, neurotic mind.

We’ll chalk it up to hormones or something like it. Isn’t the root of all evil hormonal in nature?

Of course it is.

As it’s finally Friday, however, I’ll try to keep my weeping to a minimum and exclusively relegated to things cute, fuzzy, and non-literary.

Any big weekend plans, kittens? I’d love to hear about them. Also, ladies over 28, did you notice a gigantic emotional shift in your late 20’s? Enlighten me.

No, really. I want answers.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have a glass of chocolate almond milk.

Given recent events, I’ll probably cry because it’s not ice cream. C’est la vie, AmIRight?

Babe, can I get bird flu from a toilet seat?

Perspective is a truly amazing thing. And I think I found some. (I know—it’s about time, right?)But with the help and support of some truly amazing people, I have a brighter outlook. As Carter always says, “Shit happens.” And it does. The universe is a random, terrifying place. But it’s helpful to have people who will reach out to you to pull you in when you’re feeling adrift. I’m incredibly grateful for that and blessed beyond measure.

Speaking of shit, well, happening, I realized late last night that I haven’t written a post that makes me cringe in a really long time. I figure that, after putting you, my dear readers, through the “Emo-Kid” ringer for the past two days, I owed you one. This was confirmed this morning when I read the hysterical post of my fellow blogger (and maybe virtual support group cheerleader) Chris, over at Life Your Way. That’s right, kids. You’re getting a bathroom post.
I know I’ve written about the little girl who thought I was a magical pixie horse in the Target Bathroom. And I’ve written about the Yosimete Sam stall doors at the Flying W Ranch.  I’ve written about my mother luring me into the bathroom to have an Olympia Dukakis moment and tell me my life is going down the toilet. I’ve also written about nearly climbing (American Gladiator style) over a woman who was so old that I was convinced that the air pressure atcruising altitude would kill her, let alone me stepping on her, because I was an idiot and drank a 7,000 oz. coffee before boarding a 3 hour flight. Clearly, bathroom hilarity is no stranger to me. (We’re going with “hilarity.” All of the other words I could use make me seem either a) sad; b) stupid [Like, “Did you just try to iron the couch?” stupid]; or c) pervy.)
Our story takes us to beautiful Vietnam. (I’ve been there!) I am a neurotic traveler. Take me to a tropical country, and I am a psychotic traveler. Don’t believe me? (You really don’t know me by now. Shame on you.)
         I bought 7 cans of the “Backwoods Bugspray” with DEET because I am terrified of Malaria.(Yes, yes, I know that it wil probably give me cancer and cause me to give birth to children with 6 legs and x-ray vision. But at least I won’t get malaria.)

         I would apply this bugspray in the morning, wearing only my underwear, so that every inch of my body was covered and the mosquitos couldn’t give me malaria near my hoohoo. (Note: I know how malaria works. And no. No I did not actually apply bug spray to that region. ….just…near it.)

         After the bug spray dried, I would apply a thick layer of SPF 1,000 to my skin (I’m pale. Like, really, really, freakishly pale. Sorry. “Fair.”).

         Because I read in a travel guide that it is easy to get dehydrated in the tropics, I drank like a million gallons of water a day.

         Because I am the world’s unluckiest person, I also happened to be traveling with my dear “Aunt Flo,” who decided to show up somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. (May she rot in Hell.)

         Because I am neurotic, I was afraid of getting a UTI or other beasty little infection in my lady nest. This meant, that to manage, oh, any part of that blessed week of my existence, I literally bathed, from fingertip to elbow, in Purel. (I could have operated on someone my hands were so clean.)
(Note: So I’m gonna digress for a minute to tell you a love story. It’s a story of the growing affection between my father and Carter. Bro-love, to be specific. Under the direction of our trip leader, Carter and I had sprayed all of the clothes we would be taking to Vietnam with the DEET bugspray and were hanging the hangers on the tracks of the garage door. You know, so we wouldn’t die of asphyxiation by leaving them inside? Carter was up on a ladder hanging clothes when my dad walked past, and not looking, patted him on the calf and said, “How you doing up there, baby?” Carter replied, “Well, sir, I’m a little disturbed by you calling me ‘Baby,’ but I’m fine.” My dad was mortified. Then he thought it was hilarious. Then he called Carter “baby” for the rest of the night. And Carter called him the same. Because I’m working with really mature people here. In all seriousness, though, I am very lucky that my father deems Carter worthy and, even more, enjoys his company. I am not lucky, however, that this spending time together usually happens with the exclusion of me. First kickball, now my family. Why, universe, why?!?!)
We were at the Land Mine Museum in the former DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). It’s some pretty intense stuff. (Note: There are still something like 10,000 land mines [estimated] that are undetonated in that region. People sometimes still happen across them accidentally and generally lose appendages. They are horrible devices. But there are organizations that get prosthetics to the people who are wounded by them so that they can continue to have good quality of life. Amazing work.)
Intense things tend to make me all, as Carter says, “clenched.” When I clench up, I have to pee. Simple enough. But we couldn’t get to the bathrooms until we had gone through the museum. And so I waited. I was fascinated by the museum, moved to tears at several points, but I was in agony. And nothing makes you feel like a shitty human being quite like having the following thought:Oh my gosh. That is absolutely horrifying. How could someone invent such a thing! That poor child. He’ll never walk again. And my bladder is about to explode. Sweet mother of cheese, where is the bathroom?!” Yep.
I had to go, kids. I had to go really bad. (1,000,000 liters of water, remember? Mock me all you want. I never once got dehydrated.)
After a while, we neared the exit. I reached into my theft-proof, fire-proof, water-proof travel purse (neurotic, remember?) and pulled out the Purel to begin the disinfecting process. (You know, because it takes forever?)
We walked out into the sun and headed around the corner of the building to the bathrooms.
In Russia, I got pretty good at peeing over a hole in the ground. (And behind bus stops.)This ability served me well. By the time I got to Vietnam, I was not shocked or concerned to see a toilet that was little more than that. I was not put off to see that the facilities were housed in a roofless “shed” out behind the building. No biggie! I’m versatile! I’m adaptable!
I shimmied to the door and pulled it open. It was dark from being in the shade. My eyes slowly adjusted to the light.

BA-GOK!!!!!

My first thought, still blinded by the bright tropical sunlight, was that I had had a stroke, was hearing things, and would surely die. (I’m not over-dramatic at all. Clearly.) But as my eyes adjusted and focused, what did I see?
A chicken. A big, fluffy, crazy-eyed chicken. (Have you ever looked a free-range chicken in the eye? It’s like looking into the eyes of Samuel L. Jackson, himself. Only maybe more intimidating. That chicken will peck your mother-f***in’ eyes out of your mother-f***in’ head.)
Photo courtesy of my dear friend, Omar. And maybe someone else. I don’t know.
We were reaching a state of emergency. I peeked out the door, desperately, looking for one of the big, strong, football-playing men that were on this trip. Or Carter. As my boyfriend, he was obligated to take care of all chicken related problems for me. It’s in the bi-laws. They were all lazily chatting, leaning against the bus or sitting on fallen trees, drinking water. No one looked my way. It was up to me. (Thanks a lot, Carter. I’d forgotten about your lack of assistance. The next time you need me to toss you a roll of toilet paper, maybe I’ll be off trying to see the score of the game on my friend’s Blackberry.) 
I tried to delicately “shoo” the chicken out, to no avail. This was clearly his “crib.” Then I tried to clap my hands, thinking that he would be freaked out my loud noises. (He wasn’t. Clearly that’s just me.) Then I tried to take my foot and gently (seriously, PETA people – I was very gentle) nudge it out of the, oh let’s call it what it was, outhouse. Nope. Chicken, like the honey badger, didn’t give a f**k what I wanted.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I ran at the chicken, screaming. I don’t know what it looked like from outside. But I am told, that all of a sudden, Carter heard the unmistakable sound of my distress cry and then saw, flapping furiously out the top of the outhouse, a chicken.
It was legendary.
Finally, with a chicken-free space, I could do my thing. After which, I Purel-ed my nudging foot so that I wouldn’t get bird flu. (It could happen! …Right?) When I opened the door to exit, looking into the puzzled faces of some of my travel mates, I heard this huffy “Ba-Gok” coming from near my feet. I held the door open and the chicken, turning its nose up in the air, strutted past me and back into the outhouse, which I can only assume, with the information I’d gathered from the experience, doubled as a chicken coop.
You will be happy to know that I did not get a UTI on that trip. (Maybe you wouldn’t be happy to know that, I don’t know. But if you aren’t happy for me, you’ve clearly never had one. This means that I kind of hate you. Not really! I kid, I kid!)
You will also be happy to know that I did not get malaria!
Or bird flu.
Or pregnant. (Winning!!!!)
(Note: Getting pregnant wasn’t really a worry of mine. I just like to add it in whenever I’m winning. I love babies. I just can’t really get one right now. It’s not them. It’s me. …Ok, I lied. It’s totally them. They’re high maintenance and cost a lot. And I’m poor. And sloppy.)  
And now, enjoy some gorgeous pictures from the trip! (Because the story is over but I want the post to be longer. And because they’re pretty great. And because I can.)
Happy Wednesday, y’all!

Ha Long Bay. Beautiful!
 
 
I’m in a glass case of emotion! Not really. I’m in a combat tunnel. I know I look like I’m having fun. Let me assure you, I am freaking the f**k out.
 


Carter’s lame attempt and the high school/undergraduate girl “duck face.”
 

Hue
 
P.S. I have the best readers in the world. Thank you so much, truly, for all of the support and warm fuzzies. It won’t change the outcome – we may still lose sweet Mr. Fred. But your kindness and concern have made the world a little brighter on my end, and helped me to cope with it. I am eternally grateful to you. (See, aren’t you glad you looked at the pictures now?)

Get Your Mitts Off My Tight End, Sir: A Fantasy Football Story


So this post may be more for my male readers. Yep. All three of them. (Two of them being Carter and my dad. Is that sad? I don’t think that’s sad. Is that sad?)

But I think the ladies will appreciate it as well because today, friends, I am writing about Hell. Yep. Hell. What is that, you may ask? Well, kittens, Hell is alternately known as “Joining a Fantasy Football League Because You’re So Freaking Competitive and Watched The League and Fell in Love with Jenny’s Character and Thought That You Could Be Like Her But Then You Joined and Realized That You Don’t Know What the Hell You’re Doing/Have No Business Playing Fantasy Football and Will Probably Get Your Ass Kicked By People You’re Friends With But Because You’re So Competitive You Won’t Be Able to Be Friends With Them Anymore Because So Great Will Be Your Shame.”
Yes. That is Hell. And Hell is Real.

This is Jenny. (Her husband in this video is also just like Carter. Just so you know.)


http://vod.fxnetworks.com/watch/theleague/2872079/the-naked-truth

There must be something about the name because my dear friend Jenny (Yes, my real life friend) is apparently a Fantasy Football Goddess. She is also a March Madness Goddess and won lots of money this year. In other words, she is the ultimate package – a tall, gorgeous blonde who knows sports, runs marathons, tells jokes, and markets the shit out of things. And for this we hate her. (I kid, I kid. I love you, Jenny!)

I am not a Fantasy Football Goddess. I, historically, have always been the one to bring entirely too much food to football gatherings just to make up for my lack of football prowess. (As in “Kate really made an ass of herself when she asked if they were on the 7th down yet or not but these bacon wrapped water chestnuts are to die for!”)

(Note: I really do know that there are only 4 potential downs ….now.)

But I watched all of the seasons of The League in roughly a day and a half with Carter and became so enamored with Jenny on the show that I decided to join. I was bolstered in this effort by another girl friend who is the girlfriend of a friend (See what I did there?) joining this league as well.

My team name? Chunky Monkey.

My draft strategy? Panic and cower.
(Kind of like stop, drop, and roll. … Ok it’s not at all like that. Basically my strategy is to drink pumpkin beer in my pajamas with my hoodie pulled up to my eyes like I’m watching SAW or something and screech at the computer while picking the guy who has the coolest first name and typing obscenities into my Gchat with Carter.)

Remember that sad, sad hair I blogged about yesterday? Yep. This is me at my neurotic worst.
What? Carter wasn’t there to lovingly guide me through my first Fantasy Football Draft?

No. He was not. He was working, leaving me home alone to suffer in near hysteria.
(Note: If this were the 1800’s, I would have been institutionalized for such behavior. They called it Melancholia. Look at everything you’re learning! I learned that from a book called 1,000 White Women. I am not joking. And it is not about anything that you could glean from the title.  You really should read it – it was an entertaining and informative book. It’s about the US Government taking all the crazy women out of the asylums and sanitariums and shipping them west to intermingle with the Native Americans. And it really happened. Wacky, right? Then the US Government was all “Well, Native Americans, I hope you’ve enjoyed our women. I know that we technically sold them to you but we’re going to take them back now. Is that ok? Because we totally reserve the right for take-backsies. Oh, and while we’re at it we’re going to take all of your land and buffalo and make you live in 15 acres square. Cool? What? You don’t want to give us back our women? No, gentlemen, they were never your women. I know, I know, we said they were, but they were really just on loan. Now we’d like to take them back to their asylums and move you off of the path of our railroad. It’s really quite pesky you being here. What? You white ladies like your Native American husbands? What?! You’re having his baby!?!? Oh, no, that won’t do. BANG. BANG. BANG.” …Ok I guess you don’t need to read it now that I’ve given you the entire synopsis. My bad.)

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes. Hysteria.

So Carter left me to fend for myself in the draft. I’ll share with you some excerpts of our Gchat conversation. (I cut out all of the bits that were just typed profanities on my end. That man is a saint for putting up with me. Then again, he did abandon me in my hour of football need. So we’ll call it even.)

(Note: If you couldn’t tell by this intro that I have no business in this league, my excessive use of smiley face emoticons in this chat will confirm it for you.)


ME: Holy shit why does it keep playing the NFL theme song!!???!!!?!?!?

CARTER: It does that whenever someone joins the draft. Super annoying.

ME: It’s freaking me out!

CARTER: You ready for this? Calm down.  You’re fine.

ME: I’m freakin’ out, man. I’m freakin’ out. I should get a beer! That’s what you do during a fantasy draft, right? Drink beer and scratch yourself?

CARTER: You need a beer bad. Or open a bottle of wine. Or have some bourbon. Pour yourself some angels envy or michters.

ME: OMG!!!! 4 effing minutes!!!!!

CARTER: Calm down. You’re fine.

ME: I am not. I’m an infant. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m going to lose fantasy. I’m going to fail the GRE.

CARTER: No you’re not. On either. Also, I’m 100% gonna have to take the GRE again,so you can do it with me.

ME: Gah!!!!! NOT HELPFUL!!!

CARTER: Did you get booze?

ME: Beer. Please help me.

CARTER: Ok. The fact that there are so many people on autodraft is good for you.

ME: Really?

CARTER: Yea. Because the computer will automatically take whoever ESPN has ranked highest, which isn’t always good.

ME: Score for the noob!

 A Bit Later……

ME:  Mother f***ers took Drew Brees!!!!!!!!!!


CARTER: Yea, sorry.

ME: I need a QB!!!

CARTER: I dunno. At this point you would probably be better off waiting. I would take a running back if I were you.

ME: Fudge!!!! (Only I didn’t say fudge) I took Eli Manning.

CARTER: Yea, I probably wouldn’t have done that. But it’s ok. You’re ok.

ME: I pick again in 2 though.

CARTER: Well now you get to root for Eli while watching the game tomorrow night. I will be rooting for him double now. I was going to anyway as he is playing against the Cowboys, but now I will root for your fantasy team. (Because he is literally the best husband ever.)

 

A While Later…


CARTER: Your team doesn’t look too bad.


ME: Really? 😀

CARTER: Yea. I think the Eli pick wasn’t great.

ME: I panicked.

CARTER: Haha. At least you have a quarterback.

ME: I panicked, but I got it out of my system. Now I’m collected.

CARTER: It’s ok, it could have been a lot worse.

ME: It was my first draft pick EVER. Cut me some slack, man! He’s a Superbowl winning QB! I could have done a LOT worse!

CARTER: I know. He is a solid QB. He doesn’t put of flashy fantasy numbers but he’s solid.

ME: Bitch what!!!!! I’ve got a good group of mens!

 

A LONG Time Later…

ME: People taking the full 2 minutes to draft is killing me.

CARTER: Seriously. 2 minutes is too much time.


ME: Look at you getting The Firm. (The man, not the exercise equipment. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is his name. Being…. a good… football player is his game. [wtf?])


CARTER: I did indeed. Also, nice name drop.

ME: 🙂 I listen!

For-Freakin’-Ever Later (People in my league are legitimately the slowest drafters in the world. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and I was faster than all the guys.) …..

ME: I really want to win, but I would settle for second place if you got first. And then we can dominate. And trash talk.

CARTER: That would be great.

ME: And I can withhold buffalo chicken dip from all who don’t bow down before us. (I make THE BEST Buffalo Chicken Dip in the world. Don’t believe me? Ask around.)

CARTER: I would love for us to both be in the top 3. We will be the “First Family of Fantasy Football.”

 

ME: YES

CARTER: That should go on your blog. (See? I listen, Carter)

ME: And one day, we will create a super baby. (This is kind of an obsession of mine. I don’t want kids yet, but the quasi veganism has made me kind of crazy. Blame the nutritional yeast. I have become determined that when we do spawn, it will be superhuman….to make up for my clumsiness and Carter’s double ankle. More on that one later.) And he will play in the NFL. And we will have tickets. And follow the team. And I’ll be the team mom. (Confession: I may be more obsessed with the idea of being a team mom to an NFL team than I am with actually birthing a kid who plays in the NFL. Think of the lording I could do in the PTA. “Oh? You’re the team mom for your kids YMCA Intermural Doesn’t Have a Trophy Soccer Team? Bless your heart! How nice! I’m just taking these orange slices and no bakes to the Chicago Bears practice. I’ll be right back!”)

CARTER: Haha, great.

ME: Oh, excuse me, Calvin Johnson. Would you like a Capri Sun?

CARTER: I bet he would.

ME: He totally would.

In the end, I picked pretty well, I think. Carter was impressed. Here’s my team:


Eli Manning

Marshawn Lynch

Frank Gore

Cedric Benson

Jordy Nelson

Percy Harvin

Fred Davis

THE GREEN BAY PACKERS DEFENSE (Carter so help me, if you ever leave me, I will have Clay Matthew’s baby.)

Matt Prater

Isaac Redman

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Reuben Randle

Andrew Luck

Davone Bess

Jermaine Gresham

For any of you who know what that means, it means I did pretty damn well for a noob. (Unless Carter is lying to me.)

I’m pushing the envelope and trying new things. And I’m happy about that. The potential for awesomeness is palpable – this year, I could be both the person that brings entirely too many food items wrapped in bacon to parties AND the Fantasy Football Champion.

Of course, if I lose, I will mourn my dignity by bringing saltines and hot sauce only to every party. So, for those of you out there who enjoy my talents, you WILL trade me Aaron Rodgers for Eli Manning or it’s crackers and crackers alone for you.

Happy Wednesday, y’all!


Clay Matthews: http://therealsportssavant.blogspot.com/2011/01/clay-matthews-nfl-all-pro-with-football.html

Is that bad indigestion or are you just happy to see me?

One of the people that live in our building just brought home a brand spankin’ new miniature poodle puppy. I used to have one of those – Mr. Max. And every time I see this little guy I think of him. Maybe it was the rain this morning . Maybe it was the fact that I have to work when it seems like no one else I know does. Maybe it was the inevitable letdown that comes with the Monday after a great weekend. But whatever the reason, I saw that puppy this morning and choked back tears almost my entire way to work.


You see, my Mr. Max had to be put down in July of 2010. And I have missed him every day since.
That’s the nature of dogs. We don’t own them. We borrow them. We have them for such a short time and yet our lives are forever and irreversibly changed by their presence. And I would argue that those of us who are dog lovers are made better for it. I don’t want to dwell on it, as I’m sure y’all don’t want to read about that. But a dead dog is a small lifetime of memories.  Everyone has their “dead dogs” in life, whether they admit it or not.
It’s a knife in the gut every time I see this puppy – I don’t even know his name – but it’s cathartic, too. Because even though it reminds me that there will always be a little Max-sized emptiness in my life, it also reminds me of his energy, his antics, and his impact.
And so, if you’ll indulge me, I would like to share with you the story that I remembered this morning. It brought me out of my funk and made me laugh.
It’s a story of a precocious miniature poodle named Max (Aliases: Mr. Max, Maximus, Maxiepoo, Maxers, Pudge, and The Old Bastard.).
It is a story about undying love.
It is a story about dog boners.

 

(Yes. Just let that sink in for a minute. And no, I’m not crazy or gross.)

Mr. Max was all of the male characters in Grumpy Old Men rolled into one. He was bitchy, cranky, opinionated, curmudgeonly, stubborn, proud, nap-dependent, naughty, and thoroughly ridiculous.
 

The cats feared him. Our neighbor boys kept a cool, wary distance. My sister lived with perpetually bandaged fingers for failing to follow in suit.

Ok, ok. He wasn’t that bad. Really.
….unless you tried to take his giant plush ball out of his mouth
….or move him off the couch
….or take a chicken wing out of his mouth that he dug out of the garbage which is why you then had to drive him to the emergency vet clinic at midnight so they could tell you that you probably need stitches and he probably needed to throw up. Did I get stitches? No. Did I make his cranky ass throw up? You bet your boots I did. That night, I tethered his leash to the tree in the front yard because I sure as shit wasn’t going to clean puke off the couch. But I sat with him until the wing came up at 2 am. And I petted his head. And I told him that he was a good boy but that if he ever pulled a stunt like that again and mauled me in the process that I would let that chicken wing come out the other end and we’d just see how he liked passing it. (Note: I think we all know I never would have done that. I’m all bark.)

So anyways, back to dog boners.

Max, cranky and curmudgeonly though he was, found love in an old, powder-blue felt moving blanket. (You know, the kind that come standard on the Uhaul truck when you’re moving your piano? What? You’ve never moved your mother’s piano before? You’ve never lived!) And his love for it was pure. I assume its love for him was the same, if a bit more tired. (“Max, darling, it’s the 70th time today that you’ve wanted to do this. It’s ten am. Can’t we just cuddle on the couch and watch Bear in the Big Blue House? You love that show and I want to see if Pip and Pop ever get ungrounded.”)
Usually, his “love” was fairly tame. He would hunch his tiny 18 pound body over that blanket and go to town for a few minutes, get tired, take a nap, wake up, eat a Lip Smackers lip balm, and then go back to it. But there were times when he was insatiable.
The first time I witnessed such an incident, I was babysitting my sister while my parents went to a banquet for something. I was 13. Kara was 10. Max was 2. We were watching a Disney Channel Original Movie. (In my memories, I’ve decided it was Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century. What a load of crap that was, Disney. I don’t have a VW Beetle that drives itself. Nor do I go to school on a space station or get to wear metallic leggings as part of my uniform. Nor did David Bowie have a love child with …himself—pop icon and heartthrob, Protozoa. Thanks a lot, Disney. )
I was on one couch. Kara was on another. Max was on the floor, atop his blankie. He was really going at it, I noticed, and had started to make this weird grunting/squeaking sound. He snorted and then he lay down.

Kara started to scream.

ME: What?
KARA: We have to call mom!
ME: What happened?

Kara started dialing and by the time I saw what the problem was, she had my mom on the phone.

KARA: Mom! Oh my gosh. Max is DYING!
MOM: What happened?!?!? We’ve only been gone like 2 hours!!!
KARA: His intestines are falling out!
MOM: His what?
KARA: One of his intestines is falling out! He’s DYING, mom!
MOM: Kara, put your sister on the phone.

Kara handed me the phone and began scratching Max behind the ears, crooning that she wasn’t going to let him go. She’d just seen Titanic. Cut us some slack.

ME: Mom?
MOM: Katie, are his intestines really coming out of his body?
ME: No.
MOM: Do you know what’s going on with him?
ME: Yes.
MOM: What are you going to tell your sister?
ME: Whatever you tell me to!! Gosh, Mom!
MOM: Um… tell her it’s a skin flap. Or a really fast-growing wart that will go away in about two minutes. Or.. um….. or….
ME: [To Kara] Kara, Mom says that it’s probably just indigestion. She said if it doesn’t go away in 15 minutes that we should call her back.
MOM: My God, you’re brilliant. What a brilliant child you are. I’m so proud to have such a brilliant child.

Okay, okay. She didn’t say that. Here’s what she really said:

MOM: INDIGESTION?!?!?! You know your sister’s a hypochondriac! Now she’s going to think that every time she has a stomach ache that it’s normal for her intestines to come out! This is like when your older cousin told your sister and younger cousins that a condom was an airplane seatbelt and your younger cousin later shouted on a plane “Fasten your condoms, everybody!” What were you thinking?!?!?
ME: A fast growing wart that will disappear, Mom?
MOM: [ Long Pause ] We’ll be home at 11.

So here are the facts:
1.       Kara was 10. If she had known what was going on, my dad never would have let her go away for college. If you know too much at 10, imagine how much too much you’ll know at 18. Childhood is the time for blissful ignorance.

2.       Max was a dirty, dirty perv.

3.       My mother is a terrible liar. She is also terrible at the following: stealing French fries off of her daughters’ plates inconspicuously, not biting her nails, and downhill skiing on the Wii fit.  

4.       My sister is a hypochondriac. But thankfully, she forgot about the whole indigestion excuse. She did, however, always think that her throat was going to close up. She gets it honestly, though. We come from a long line of practiced and expert hypochondriacs. I will blog about this. I promise. The story of Our American Hypochondriacs is about as funny a story as I know.

5.       I am clearly not easily rattled. I am, however, easily disgusted.

6.       I am also, apparently, vengeful when it comes to pervy behavior when I’m trying to watch my stories. I took that blanket and put it in the washing machine. And then I put it in the dryer. On high. And it was never soft again. (Although, if Knocked Up is true, the whole soft bit was probably less about the dryer setting and more about the stain.)
 
8.    And then I washed my hands for a month.

9.       Max was fine. And thankfully, the union did not produce any offspring. Max was fuzzy enough for one animal.  (Yes, I know how reproduction works. I know that without a uterus, Max never could have produced offspring with that blanket. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. Besides, I’m pretty sure that the blanket had been spayed.)

I know this is a gross, mildly disturbing story. But if you have any imagination at all, it’s pretty damn funny. And I hope it brightened your day as much as it did mine.

Because after all, it’s a love story.

Max loved that blanket until the day he died. And we love Max still.

Whether it’s raining where you are or not, whether you’re working or watching a Harry Potter Marathon (lucky bitches), whether you’re a dog person or a cat person or not an animal lover at all (what is wrong with you?), I hope this story reminds you of the “dead dogs”, blankets, and bittersweet in your own lives.