Monday, April 16, 2007

A Toddler’s Guide to Dog Ownership, Part I

Start the day by sneaking up on one or more of your sleeping dogs and yelling, “Wake up!” as you jump on top of him. Without skipping a beat, show your mother that everything’s on the level by patting the dog gently on the head and looking into his sad, tired eyes and repeating, “Aw, you’re a good girl,” over and over.

When your breakfast of a pancake slathered with butter is ready, insist on walking around the entire house with it, despite certain urgings from someone in the kitchen to please eat the damn thing or put it on the kitchen counter. Offer it to one of your dogs by very nearly ramming it into her mouth. When the dog actually shows the nerve to try and eat it, use the pancake to beat her about the head and shoulders while shouting, “No! No! No!” Sing the theme song from the show Dora the Explorer sixty seven times to drown out the din of battle. If possible, work in a few original verses about pooping in the potty and your undying love for the yogurt smoothie product, Danimals.

Discover that one or both of your dogs has eaten the pancake you left on the coffee table so that you could ram twenty seven CDs into the five-CD changer. Lose your mind to the tune of relieving yourself on the carpet, or ideally a piece of leather furniture. Run a hysterical circuit around the house, simultaneously chasing your dogs if possible, screaming, “I want that pancake!” until one of the dogs turns tail to face you and barks as loudly as possible right in your face. Escalate your hysterics until NASA calls to find out if they can use your grand mal seizure to power the next Space Shuttle flight.

Insist on a Band Aid. “A Dora one,” sob to your mother, and point to a half dozen places on your face where you think the noise from that one unconscionable bark may have broken the skin. By the time you’re dressed and ready for preschool, wonder why your mother hasn’t yet called the vet to make an appointment for euthanizing the offending dog. Adjust your Dora Band Aid forty two times to adequately cover one gaping wound after another. When asked in the car why you think your dog barked at you like that, pretend you’ve suddenly lost your hearing for a few minutes before answering, “I have poop.” Affirm to yourself that tomorrow those mutts are in a lot of trouble. Instead of butter, you're asking for a billy club to go on your pancake.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

To Norm: We Hardly Knew Ye

Whenever my friend Richie’s dog entered the room, I liked to shout, “Norm!” as if we were all at Cheers, trying to avoid talking to Cliff at all costs. About a year later, Richie and his family of humans and animals ran off to South Dakota, leaving us to wonder how a ski bum from Jersey would fair in the prairie. As the most wholesome family we know, I missed them all, especially Norm, the dog with one ear up and one ear slightly down. The German Shepard-ish mutt Richie referred lovingly to as “Fatty,” as in marijuana cigarette, because that’s how mellow you could count on Norm to be at any given moment.

And if Normy was mellow, he was also trustworthy. You could trust him with your cat, your furniture, your newborn baby girl. The only thing you couldn’t trust Norm with was your garbage, but that was only if you left it out on the ground, and so his neighbors, understanding Norm’s predisposition toward dogitude, hung their garbage bags up on their fence posts, for example. It was no big thing; it was Norm, roaming the neighborhood—very slowly in his later years—the neighbors calling out his name as if they were all at an outdoor, block-long installation of Cheers. I could pet that guy until I lost all feeling in my hands.

We received a postcard today with Richie’s return address on the envelope. On it was a black and white picture of Norm, gently kissing Richie’s daughter, Jessie, perhaps on the day she was born. The caption read, “Norman, 1993-2007. A very good boy.”

Indeed you were, buddy. Thanks for being our friend.

Monday, April 2, 2007

An Open Letter to Jeremy Piven

Dear Jeremy,

When I found you at MySpace, I was delighted. You are my favorite actor, the male counterpart to Parker Posey, my favorite female actor, and Alexis Arquette, my favorite transgendered actor. (Not that I know of any other transgendered actors, but let’s not let that get in the way of the fact that no one else on the planet could have pulled off so successfully one of the most important roles in modern cinema: George in The Wedding Singer.)

Jeremy, you are the saucy chick’s Vince Vaughn, an edgy John Cusak without entering the Tom Sizemore zone. As far as we know, you’ve never frolicked with Fleiss, and really that’s all we need: The illusion that you’ve kept your Ben Franklins to yourself, unlike a certain member of Sly and the family Sheen. I’ve loved you since the movie One Crazy Summer; the fact that you were about to carry male pattern baldness over the threshold well before your thirties didn’t bother me. There’s no shame in your game, no combover, no foul. Besides, hair is for horses—and Ted McGinley. Not necessarily in that order, though, right, Anthony Edwards?

I saw what appeared to be a home movie featuring other celebs at your MySpace page, and with a tagline like, “It is really me,” I figured it had to really be you. Number of friends: three hundred and change; not so few that you seemed exclusionary, not so many that my “add to friends” request would, as Walter Sobchak would say, "die face down in the muck." I clicked the “Add to friends” link and waited. Please hold.

[Cue the Muzak version of Lady From Ipanema.]

A month later, I sent another request, thinking that either you’ve been too busy to field the first one, or you’re kind of up your own ass about your friends list.

OK, I see the women posting images to your comments page. These are either photographs or artist’s renderings of pendulous breasts peeking from behind a tattered leather bikini top. Or maybe a fine young woman is looking back at you over her shoulder, pouting from, no doubt, the kind of discomfort that wearing a gold satin thong can burden a girl with. She’s a trouper, though; she’s blowing you a kiss from across the Interwebs nonetheless, and says that she is, despite her hectic nude photo shoot schedule, “Just stopping by to show your page some luv.”

Jeremy, I cannot in good conscience do these things to woo you to accept my request. It’s not that my breasts aren’t giant. They are. In fact, the only reason I cannot send you a picture right now is because I loaned my leather bikini top to the circus. What with the colder temperatures that the Midwest endured this winter, the standard big top just wasn’t cutting it, and I couldn’t stand the thought of all those clowns and elephants suffering through their performances. I can, however, offer you a few tidbits about me, hoping that they’ll persuade you to befriend me, even if it’s the kind of friendship that people commit to when they know they will never actually have to meet.

For several years, I lived in a two bedroom bungalow in Judd Nelson’s left nostril, and have since moved into a 2,200 square foot duplex behind Jon Bon Jovi’s porcelain veneers. Times are good. No stranger to how valuable real estate is these days, I myself have decided to sublet the space in between two of my incisors to a family of five from Toledo. They keep to themselves and are taking good care of the place, the only source of tension being that the man of the house works construction, and insists on warming up his diesel truck for at least a half hour every morning at five. Yeah, it’s a hemi.

Also no stranger to life’s difficulties, I did find squatters camping out in one of my facial pores, and conventional wisdom says that for every one of these moochers you find, there are ten more you don’t. My fear is that the word’s out about my skin; I should just call my accountant and get it over with. What with tax day coming up and all, maybe I can take a hefty deduction for providing shelter for those in need. I’ve always wanted to be a philanthropist; perhaps this is a good excuse to practice acts of kindness and avoid dermabrasion at the same time. I think this may be the win-win situation we’ve all been looking for, don’t you? (Note to self: Ask Edward James Olmos if he's got a few vacant pores just in case he, too, is into the charity thing.)

So, Jeremy Piven, if that is in fact your real name, where’s the love, bro? Click the Add to Friends button today; I'll be passing it (for the third time), much like the dutchie, to the left hand side.

Your wannabe friend,
Jody Reale