Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving is Going to the Dogs

"Lou, you've known me ten years now, just a few months short of your whole life," I told my dog, "I'm probably not going to kill you with the vacuum cleaner." Lou hates it when I vacuum. He hates it when the washer begins its spin cycle. He hates it when the dishwasher door swings open. In fact, about the only thing he doesn't hate is when I accidentally leave the room with dirty dishes on the coffee table, but hates it once I re-enter the room, to find him with his little spotted snout all but impaling a plastic container, his tongue dislodging every last molecule of flavor from it. He cowers under the dining room table when Sophie digs her play broom and mop out of her toy box and pretends to clean house. And there's something especially frightening about living entities inhaling or exhaling or opening the mail anywhere within a four mile radius of him while he's drinking from his water dish.

But don't let Lou's fragility fool you. Woe is the well-meaning fundraiser who comes to the front door to sell candy bars or memberships to one environmental organization or another. You Girl Scouts and your cookies better look out. And all you deer out there who think you can just walk up to one of the trees and start munching without having your eardrums burst wide open from the most ferocious bark in three states can think again. Losers. And just after I adopted him TEN years ago, he was pretty sure that performing stealth attacks to my head while I slept was the very best possible way to spend an early Saturday morning. "If I were going to kill you, Lou," I ducked down under the table to explain, "it would have been then, and by the way, I wouldn't use a Swiffer to do it." It's also for this reason that I don't usually reprimand Sophie for her propensity to body tackle Lou once he's sound asleep in his chair.

We've included in our last three moves a big, old, and now very gross and beat-up stuffed chair, simply because it's Lou's Chair(TM), and I swear that if we ever buy land, I'm putting at least one sheep on it so that Lou finally has a proper way to unleash his desperate instincts to herd things. He's Lou, a forty pound cattle dog-mutt and the exact behavioral replica of Alex, only in dog form. He's the little guy I found in a poor, drug-addled town on the Colorado-New Mexico border, trembling and growling in equal measure at anyone who might harm him. And from the looks of it, pretty much everyone did.

I was not prepared to take a four month old puppy with substantial mental and physical difficulties home. I had already stuffed a dog--a big one--into my tiny townhome, and was working all the time. But there was something about Lou that was ornery and sweet in all the right places, and that convinced me to ply him with hot dogs until he allowed me to put him in my lap and give him the petting of his life. (What no one would have guessed about Lou is that he's one big tickle spot.) He fell asleep there, much to the wonderment of people who never got the memo about how holding down a puppy and docking his tail with an ax pretty much puts the kibosh on a dog/human relationship based on love and trust. So there's that.

I took Lou home, where I promptly paid my vet's student loan every month trying to figure out what was the deal with the daily torrent of bloody diarrhea. I spent the rest of my cash undoing what I came to call Lou's little home improvement projects: The trench he dug down the middle of the living room carpet had to have been my favorite. A few months later, I met Alex, who I think actually married me to get to Lou. They are high-strung, skittish males who are annoying and lovable at the same time, and live to run and play. They are intent on rolling in dead stuff, passing gas in close quarters, messing up the house on a constant basis, and can't be bothered with listening to anything I have to say. Whenever I take either one of them out, I use a short leash that I abandon the second I catch a glimpse of a certain sad face...and a whiff of something that can trigger a coroner's gag reflex.

A few years ago, we added "cancer survivor" to Lou's resume, an impressive record that also includes "porcupine survivor" and "prairie dog catcher." And come to think of it, Lou has outlasted and survived just about every thing that was in my life the day he walked into my house and promptly peed all over it. The job, most of the people, the house, the cars, the late, great, incredibly soft Bobo Reale. He's seen a chunk of my adulthood that made me want to cower under my dining room table, and I'm thankful to have had his little furry body next to me for it, the nervous, ungrateful bastard that he is. He's our dog, Lou, the only one of his kind. Lucky us.

Have a Merry Christmas...Somewhere Else

I ate lunch the other day with my friend Mickki. She's a doll who put up with my singing "Oh Micky you're so fine" three days a week at the job I had a million years ago right up until the day that she reminded me that I am four hundred and twenty seven years old, and she was something like 21 at the time. I think she said something like, "I've never heard the original version of that song, I've only heard other people sing it to me." But when we're not contemplating the fact that I'm over four hundred, we're just two kooky gals who both like eating lunch at Noodles.

"I can't believe they're playing Christmas music already," she said. And it was true, the sterile Musak version of Oh Come All Ye Faithful was oozing out of the overhead speaker onto me and my strogonoff, reminding me of one of my most genius ideas: Tiered Christmases.

One of the problems with Christmas, you see, is that everyone celebrates it at once. There's no escaping it. It's everywhere. So I, Jody Reale, propose the following: The US Regional Holiday Plan. Here's the idea:

For example, we could say, "Red states, your Christmas season happens in the summertime; blue states, your Christmas happens in the winter." That way, the white Christmas enthusiasts could travel to, say, Maine Massachusetts while they're celebrating their Christmas season, and Coloradoans like me would be psyched out of their damn minds that they didn't have to risk their lives driving to the mall in bad weather the day before the big gift exchange.

Or, maybe we could say that the Eastern Seaboard, the middle states, and the West Coast are all assigned different Christmas seasons. Or each state is given its own week of Christmas time, leaving the US with two full weeks out of every year during which Christmas is prohibited. Not personal enough for you? OK, your own Christmastime could be assigned to you based on the first three numbers of your social security number, or you could draw dates from a lottery.

Think of the possibilities; the lessening of airport mayhem and travel frustration. The steady flow of consumers to stores all year-round. The potential to make what can be an anxious time of year more palatable to those of us with seasonal affective disorder. Are you on board?

I'm sure Santa's going to fight this one with every fiber, but screw him. He's had a good run all these years working one day a year. He can start outsourcing like everyone else.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Grossing Out, Twice Removed

I wish I had a dime for every time Alex has asked me to drop whatever I’m doing so that he can show me some random dude’s film of some other dude skateboarding off his roof, or chugging a beer in record time and then burping the 1812 Overture. He watches them on the Internet of course, at a site that is the equivalent of YouTube’s younger brother; the littler one with chew stuck in his teeth. The stuff is, in general, a little ruder, harder, and delves right into the dark, so that after you watch the guy skateboard off his roof, you can also get a close up of his naked femur after he breaks his leg in half. Probably not coincidentally, the site’s name is I have bowed only twice to watching a few choice offerings there, and both times, showered afterward.

I love mindless media, just ask the people at VH1 who are happy to deliver the Celebreality tripe I consistently clamor for in 55 gallon drums; it’s not that. It’s that Break is the Web site equivalent of the guy who drives a car with a “No fat chicks” bumper sticker on it, with his Jerky Boys tape turned up to 11. And I realize that, not only am I not hurting his feelings with these observations, I’m probably just encouraging him. So be it.

Despite my outward criticisms of such media, I don’t begrudge Alex his enjoyment of it, as long as I don’t have to drop whatever I’m doing to watch it myself, or hear about it over the phone while I’m trying to work. (I have to wonder what else he does at work.) For a few weeks running now, Alex explained to me, there’s been one video making the rounds more than any other, generating a buzz that was hard for Internet video-watching America to ignore. It was called, ominously, Two Girls, One Cup, a video that the vox populi touted as unwatchable. Not being one to ignore a gauntlet, no matter how juvenile, no matter how “betcha can’t” or “double dog dare,” Alex bucked up, gave it his all, and “was only able to make it eight seconds,” he told me, dialing up each of his friends to initiate a long-distance game of “betcha can’t” tag.

As I wondered how all of these men make incomes that are triple my own, one friend was only able to make it five seconds, with another, grittier guy just barely making it all the way through. Another friend had to stop watching it after ten seconds, and even after turning away from the picture, was unable to listen to it. “I don’t understand,” I said, unable to even guess at what would make these grown men—these ungross-outable men—so grossed out. “Is it snuff?” I asked, reaching for the most terrible genre I could think of.

“No, it’s poop,” I saw Alex wince. “And puke.”

A movie with poop in it that’s sweeping the nation. It’s these kinds of phenomena that make me wonder why I’m not a millionaire yet.

I won’t narrate the plot here; you can read about it yourself, literally ad nauseum, just by Googling the title. But the notes on the story line are these: Nude or nude-ish girl meets girl. Girl and girl meet all manners of the most rude and foul activities that one can perform with the body’s humors.

Right, so that’s all fine. I get it. I’m the girl who almost vomited during both Jackass I and II, not because of some of the more nauseating stunts, but because I laughed so hard during them. (I’m thinking specifically of one gag—no pun intended—in particular, entitled “Fart Mask.”) And I’m still not watching Two Girls, One Cup, all high-pressure tactics notwithstanding. I’m no sensor, no puritan. I’m not taking a stand, I’m making a choice, and it’s to think more about puppy dogs and Skittles than about two girls, one cup, and the interesting-but-not-that-interesting motives behind the camera. Maybe you’ll choose the same, or maybe you’ll let the curiosity get the better of you, pussy cat. No harm, no foul. Just count me in for hayrides and show tunes, and out for witnessing women take the Pepsi challenge with a cornucopia of each others’ body fluids.

Oh, and by the way, our friend Jeff has seen the whole thing five times now, the best part about that being that it’s so fun to watch him watching it that he threw an ad hoc viewing party in which he sat facing his computer monitor and his guests sat facing him. Who knew such a thing could be so entertaining? As it turns out: the Internet knew. They know everything.

Now, not only can you watch Two Girls, One Cup, (or not watch it, as the case may be) you can watch videos of people watching Two Girls, One Cup. A cottage industry!

So I told Alex that, as a consolation prize for my refusal to answer the call to jump off the bridge like everyone else, I would gladly appear on-camera, as a person watching a person watching Two Girls, One Cup. I’m such an innovator. Mom will be so proud.