Friday, October 29, 2010

When Internal Monologues Attack

I'm saddened by how many of my stories begin with the phrase "so, I was delivering a pizza...." Lately I'm also a little grossed out by it, since the dark recesses of my mind recently provided an image to serve as the mental slide show accompaniment to that phrase each time I say it. The image is of myself in green scrubs, hunched down in the classic quarterback pose, looking expectantly between the widespread legs of a very unhappy woman who is about to be the very proud mother of a large combo with extra cheese, half no olives.

So, I was delivering a pizza, and the moment I knocked on the door a cacophony of yapping erupted from the other side (of the door, not, to my knowledge, the afterlife). This is not a rare occurrence. In a world with little dogs behind closed doors, there will always be yapping. And when those doors are opened, there will always be jumping. People who own dogs below a certain height and weight should understand that pizza obstetricians have resolved themselves to the yapping and the jumping and that they find the yapping and the jumping to be far less annoying than listening to the owners say "No! Stay! Down! Sorry. No! Honey, get him. No! Back! Down! Don't worry, he's just— Stay! Honey, would you­­— No! Hey! Down! Just get the— Down! Down! No! Down! Good boy. Good boy. What a good boy! No! Down!" etc. My only consolation during such a production is that the pizza is only getting colder.

Annoyed in anticipation, I was actually relieved when the door opened and one of the dogs immediately got past its owners and jumped up on me in a vain attempt to reach my knees as though the world depended on it. Usually this would indicate that the owners A) don't care or B) are mortified and will do everything in their power to expedite the transaction and send me on my way so they can commence abusing their untrained pet in retribution—so basically a win-win.

Instead I got option C) the owners are not in agreement about what to do with the dogs or about whose idea it was to get a dog and then another dog and then another dog or about the wisdom of letting one impulsive decision made during a power outage ten years ago dictate where you live and what you do for a living and what kind of car you drive and what you order on a pizza for the rest of your life.

"Honey, don't let—" she said.

"He's alright. Don't worry. He's just gonna jump on you a little bit," he said.

"Come here! Down! Sorry. I'm so sorry. Get down! Come here. Come on," she replied.

"Hey buddy," I said.

Meanwhile I was enjoying the ridiculousness of it all. The little dog was harmless. So happy, so delighted to meet me. Why, lady, why do you apologize for this little moment of unbridled mirth? And why, sir, don't you help your wife?

I tried to imagine the kind of person who would be upset in my position, and in succeeding to do so, I turned the situation into an incident.

"I hate little dogs!" I yelled.

Both man and woman stared at me, aghast.

Why are they... oh crap, they don't know me. That's the longest sentence they've ever heard me say. Quick, do something to make it better.

"Don't, um... don't make me pet them."

Good not great. Now seal the deal.

Awkward smile.

"Oh," she said.

I think I saved their marriage.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Archie Robinson Fulton

Sometimes I go looking for something in the depths of my hard drive and find unexpected gems. Just now I was trying to find some writing prompts from a class I took in college, and I came up with this instead. I vaguely remember feeling the need to write something that could be illustrated like it was a children's book, letting myself type whatever I wanted to type, and figuring I would come back later to fill in the gaps. What follows are the unedited, unabridged contents of a Word file called "Archie Robinson Fulton," created Friday, July 13 2007 at 8:25 p.m.

Archie Robinson Fulton lived a storybook life.
The trouble was that his story never really took off.

It all started when… he ran out of scotch tape
the phone rang
the goldfish ran away
the goldfish died
the dog ran away
the power went out
the sun went down
the price of gas went up
had ink on his fingers
he was eating roasted and salted almonds
when people began caring about the environment

the problem was
Archie had no money

And so it was that

when President Bush counted on him to rise to the occasion and take his place among the Bush Library’s most trusted of leaders. There he stood out as one american who was doing everything he could to help President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush to define and explore the stalwart values of faith.

Archie’s life was loosly biographical to someone else
and something magical was supposed to happen.

He was on his way to an Island where his Aunt and Uncle lived
So he got on a plane and sat down.

Also, before he got on the plane (just so you know)
Everyone was waiting for a little child to get on the plane (she was afraid of the crack between the walkway and the plane, because it was 20 feet down)

That part was also loosly biographical to someone else.

He went to 10 D and sat there
and a girl came up behind him and said “excuse me, you’re in my seat”

And he said “my ticket is for 10 D,”
And she said “oh, I’m supposed to be in 11 D”

It all started when… the phone rang,
but it wasn’t for Archie Robinson Fulton. That’s, Robinson-Fulton, with a hyphen (because his parents were so uptight [that they added a hyphen]).

It was his Aunt Sally “B” (on the aformentioned phone).

“Rosemary, you’ll never believe this. Your… Uncle or whatever—your something is in prison.”

“My name isn’t Rosemary,” said Archie. “You must have me confused with someone named else named Rosemary.”

“Oh, so your name is Rosemary.”


“Then put your mother on the phone, Archie ‘Rosemary’ Robinson-Fulton with a hyphen.”

“Okay,” said Archie “Swiss Family” Robinson-Fulton. “Rosemary, get the phone,” he said, to his mother, named Rosemary.

But his mother didn’t hear him, as she was preoccupied with Pilotes in the family room, which also had a TV.

Outside the sky looked like a desert landscape.

But whatever happened to Archie? Did he drop the phone and just leave it there, and Aunt Sally is still waiting?

Eight Legs for Archie

Archie’s sister’s name is Melanoma.

“I Precipitate You”

A Boy Named Pthomas
(his fish ran away)
(only problem is that he’s blind, and so is his seeing eye dog)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Forgot To Go To The Chiropractor Today

I think that means I shouldn't have intended to go. That makes me not only forgetful, but irrational, unless I forgot that I decided not to go, in which case I'm senile. So basically my shoulder feels fine to the point that I'm worried about my brain.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Some Day This Will Be How It Was Then

Last night I booted up my computer to show my brother something. In my mind, I was doing this because I wanted to show him something on my computer, but the truth is I wanted to show him something on the Internet. I'm not too young to remember life before the World Wide Web, yet now when my computer can't get online, I feel like it's broken. Subconsciously, I'm losing the distinction between my computer and the Internet. You may resent the distinction in this case (since we had no other immediate means of accessing the Internet), and I'll admit it's not a particularly strong example of the phenomenon, but I still think it serves as a good starting point for the journey we're on. "What journey," you ask? Why, don't you feel the rocking of the boat beneath you? Didn't you know that the moment you began reading this post, you became swept up in an adventure already taking place—an adventure with me, showered, yet back in my nighttime clothes lazing about on a Tuesday afternoon, in a recliner, on a boat?

But wait, I think we might have left something behind. There on the docks—I can barely make it out. It's the term "booted." Booted is a fine example of just how far the form of a word can dissociate from the idea of a word until it attaches to another idea altogether. The term actually originated in the days when computers were gas powered and had to be kick started. How we ever got from boot to trunk to torso to chest to booty to bottom to foot to kick is beyond me, unless of course that's how precisely. This would have likely also happened on a boat, or a series of boats, requiring at least one transatlantic voyage and an encounter with one or more pirates or pirate enthusiasts/reenactors. Such a shame that you left it there. I'm starting to wonder why I brought you along.

But I guess I can't fault you for failing to recognize the significance of the word for the journey we're on. The process is, after all, so gradual that we rarely notice it happening. I can tell that you want another example—that you aren't going to be comfortable unless you have three examples. Well as it happens I got a sneak peak at the earliest stage of this process last night at my parents' house, less than 30 seconds after the beginning of this story, which now seems so long ago. En route to showing my brother something on the Internet via my computer, I opened Firefox, but the page wouldn't load. I closed Firefox and tried again. Then I tried Safari. When neither worked I reset the wireless router and restarted my computer. Still, neither program would finish loading the homepage, so I gave up on the idea and figured there must be some problem with the Internet service provider. However, after a few hours it still wasn't working, and I needed to email a job application by morning, so I drove to my friend Sam's house to get online.

Both of Sam's parents were online when I got there, but they were having bandwidth problems, so they logged off to let me send my email. They set me up with the network key and my computer showed that it had full signal, but I still couldn't get online. To troubleshoot, Sam's mom tried going back online, but her homepage wouldn't load either.

"Maybe it's Explorer," she said. But no, I didn't even have Explorer, because I'm too mac for PC. By now it was too late to go to a Starbucks or some other Internet "hot spot," and I was starting to think I'd have to drive all the way home just to send one lousy email for some lousy job I probably won't get anyway, when Sam tried the wireless network with his phone.

"My phone isn't having any trouble," he said. "I can get to Facebook, and my email... what page are you trying to load? Oh hang on. Google isn't working. Yeah, it's just Google that isn't working right now."

Oh, right. I forgot. Google is not the Internet. And that sound—that's the sound of our boat scraping against the rocky shore. You were supposed to be paying attention. But anyway we're here. "Where," you ask? That's where.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

From Now On, Only Posts About Poop

Brea is complaining. I've thought about it and decided not to confirm the validity of her complaint due to the nature of her complaint which is, best case scenario, dog poop related. But is it animal cruelty related? An interesting question, given how little information I've presently divulged about the situation. It should help for you to know that her complaint regards an alleged smell coming from upstairs—a smell described to me as not unsimilar to poo or vomit coming from the direction of Bret's bedroom which happens to be, not inconsequently, the same direction as my bedroom and bathroom, which are the only reasons I am here today instead of at my parents' house 20 miles away taking care of my poo-breathed dog and watching Sunday television, which is probably competitive horse... prancing.

"It smells really bad up there," says Brea. "Have you been up there? Or... did you just... come from up there?" She sounds increasingly guarded.

But no, it wasn't me, and no, I don't smell it from my position on the possibly spider-infested couch. All I know is that I came here to clean the bathroom, put my room in order, and collect my dirty laundry, but now there is a smell I don't want to smell, which suggests a situation I don't want to deal with. And having issues I don't want to deal with is why I have this blog. Without stopping to consider how long this will take or if it will be worth it or if this will help me run out of time before I can clean the bathroom or my room, I get right to work, and I have a lot of catching up to do.

Another handy bit of information on the whole "animal cruelty" question you so off-puttingly brought up earlier is that there are two dogs locked in a kennel in Bret's room. "Kennel" is what you call a cage when you feel guilty about it. But not to worry, both dogs are "kennel" trained, I mean, "kennel trained," which means their dog wills have been broken for their own dog good. They sleep in the kennel and contentedly hang out in there for a few hours at a time when necessary, like now, while Bret is on a bike ride and Brea and I are just getting home and the back yard is occupied temporarily by another dog that is here recovering from a tussle with still another dog who was (and this is the scientific explanation) jealous of his balls. So seriously, stop freaking out and going on with this "How could you just sit there and blog about this? You're probably ignoring the fact that a dog is up there caged in with his own shit, and another dog is up there caged in with the other dog's shit" shit. (Yeah, in the past year I've learned to cuss not unlike a sailor, but I still never follow a thought in a straight line... probably also an unsailorlike behavior. Er... no, not also. And while we're on the subject, who are you to say I'm sitting? People never stand on couches? People never type while standing?)

And now a timely (narrative-saving) report from Brea: "Bret said he's coming back in a half hour, so I didn't tell him that's the reason why I called," she says. "I don't know. I mean, would you want to know?"

Yes, yes I would. However, she's right; it doesn't make any difference whether Bret knows our selfish reason for wondering when he will be back. He's on a bike ride (a situation I would never put myself in), and knowing what awaits him won't make him pedal any faster. If anything it could cause him to take mental inventory of his worldly possessions minus his bike and potentially just head southwest toward more favorable climate. Brea and I agree that something needs to be done, and soon, but if someone other than us can do something about it, and soon, then boy, that's friggin fantastic as, well, the subject at hand. (Yeah, I swore off cussing. And yeah, just for the pun.)

"Are you typing what I'm saying?" Brea asks.


"Is this your blog?"


"You should put 'Copper has big balls." Copper is the dog outside. He does have big balls. This blog is now about dog poop and dog balls.

At this point I begin reading and editing what I have so far. We can only guess how much harder you'd be laughing by now if Bret hadn't shown up when he did. I'm not saying this to be mean, but that guy pretty much ruins everything. He's like the Lance Armstrong of beating fun cancer and winning the Tour de Lame. Anyway, trapped in the flow of time as I am (what given my speed relative to Bret) I postpone the greatness and ask him if he smells anything. Bret goes upstairs to investigate.

In the interest of saving time, Bret tailors his assessment for the benefit of me and the dogs. "Yeah that's pretty gross, Wilco. That's why you poop outside in the [hell-bound] morning, [friend to lonely mothers]. Hold still."

Bret comes downstairs with Wilco and Zoe and leashes them to the end table near their auxiliary bed, about four feet away from me. Feeling the need to justify the fact that I'm not helping even a little bit, I explain what I'm doing.

"Cool. I'm pretty excited for you. do you want to clean it up instead?"

taptaptap"thanks but no"taptaptap

Bret leaves the dogs and goes upstairs with what I thought was a can of Raid but I'm trusting is a cleaning product unless I'm majorly misunderstanding what happened up there. Neither Wilco nor Zoe support the arts, and therefore they both whine incessantly as I type onward toward the universal approval and gratitude of every teacher I've ever had. The noise coming from the dogs is like the shrill metallic squeak of a rusty gate hinged to my temporal lobe, a gate that is being slowly opened forever or at least until my death. It is under the influence of this sound that I edit what I have so far and add all of the harsh language and lame jokes. I still like Wilco and Zoe, but in an "I want to fill their nostrils with popcorn kernels and put them in the doggy microwave for two minutes or until the popping sounds are ten seconds apart" sort of way.

Bret calls down from the stairs. "It's like he stuck his butt up to the cage and let it rip. Like, 'I don't want to get this all over the kennel.'"

Bret's not just talking like this to be quotable. Conversations with him really are this awesome on a regular basis. I was only kidding when I said he sticks his butt up against the metaphorical "cage" and lets it rip. And see, it is a cage and people do call it a kennel.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Usage Question: How Ironic?

Warning: this post contains an allusion to the act of human defecation disguised in fairy tale language.

It may be that the reason for my trouble sleeping tonight is traceable to the approximately three-quarters of a pint (three cups, one spoon, no bowl) of Ben & Jerry's ice cream I ate almost immediately before going to bed. This would explain both my physical discomfort (stemming from the tremendous intake of sugar and fat) and my mental unrest (stemming from my vast knowledge of nutrition and the depths to which I loathe myself).

Consequently or not, I recently had to go to the bathroom, and it was an unsatisfactory experience, beginning with my knowledge that I had earlier observed a spider scurry across the bathroom floor and under the plunger. At the time I considered turning the spider's shelter into an instrument of spider death, however, though they often forget, I am more afraid of spiders than they are of me and will usually run away unless cornered. Consequently for sure, I opted to use another bathroom for my impending misadventure.

Sparing you the gory details, I huffed and I puffed and I clogged the toilet. Thus came an end to my truce with the plunger spider.

I'll Sleep When I'm Blog

Is your cat a nighttime snacker? Does your dog sleep through the night? About how many night owl motorcyclists would you estimate live in your neighborhood? Find out the answers to these and other exciting questions each and every night on Insomnia.

Tonight's episode: "Sleeping Dogs Tell No Lies." Tonight's question: How long does your dog lie drooling between coughing fits? Answer: 38 minutes. Bonus question: does the light from your computer screen cause her to get up and breathe hot poo breath into your face? (Hint: of cat litter)