Monday, January 31, 2011

Life on the couch

I slept on the couch last night.  One could take this figuratively as in ‘ “I was up shit creek without a paddle” but in this case one should take it literally.  I was on the couch last night.   Any man who is or has been married knows why.

My wife is a remarkable women.   She is sensitive, giving, loving and supportive.  She is old fashioned in the best possible ways.  Her hobbies include gardening and antiques and our home and garden are tributes to her impeccable taste.   She is a magnificent cook.  She uses cloth napkins and always lights candles at dinner.  She is a devoted and creative mother.  When the children were young she started throwing May Day parties complete with may pole.  She held Beatrice Potter readings where, a slim women, she donned pillow fat pads to dress up as Beatrice.   She celebrated Santa Lucia for the second grade.  She had Scarecrow stuffing get togethers for the third  grade which left the front yard strewn with hay.   She did this all through my children’s elementary school years and they were so successful that parents and teachers begged her to continue them.  Now. with our children far too old for them, she still does. 

Generosity and cheeer are part of her DNA.  Anyone who has ever worked at our house – carpenter, painter, pool cleaner, plumber – will drop everything if my wife calls.   Sometimes they’ll even do the job for free.   Everyone adores my wife.    Everyone.

Which makes me wonder why she married me.  

Where she is giving, I am oblivious and self-involved.   Where she is calm and patient, I have the patience of a brush fire.   My wife enjoys people.   Except for when it involves tennis, sex or drinking, I have never enjoyed the presence of anyone for more than 20 minutes at a time.   My wife likes company.  When it comes  to guests, I often leave the room until a modicum of manners – or my wife - forces me back.   I am solitary.  I am good at sullen brooding.  When my brain is not occupied with something active it starts to turn on itself out of boredom.   For which I’ll blame her.

My wife likes to recount the events of  her day in real time.   I like bullet points.  My wife’s sense of humor tends toward gently humorous anecdotes.   Mine runs to mean spirited sarcasm.   “No one finds that funny”, she says.  She’s wrong.  I do.

We come from different family backgrounds.   In my family, people could go from slightly irritated to spitting rage in a matter of moments.   It was often an emotional rugby scrum with everyone shouting at once.  It was over as quickly as it began, all of us immediately forgot about it and went about our business.   No big deal.  No hard feelings.  Wasn’t every family like this?   Apparently not.

In my wife’s family, a raised eyebrow could throw everyone – especially the women – into cold shouldered silence for a week.    At a Thanksgiving dinner one year, much to my amusement, my mother in law thought people were talking behind her back.  She got up from the dinner table, went into the bedroom, packed her things and taking her husband, went home.   Dinner was in Connecticut, home was Alaska.   

Needless to say, my wife does not like it when I yell.   Which I do.   Often.  Which means there are times she doesn’t like me.   Especially when we argue.

Don’t take it personally, I’ll say!!   

You’re shouting, she’ll say. 

You’re not listening to me, I’ll say!!  

I don’t listen to people who shout at me, she’ll say.

She is stubborn this way and it’s a problem because the things I’m shouting are correct and wise and if my wife would only listen, she would see this.    But she won’t and I’m not the type to repeat things to people who refuse to see how right I am.

My wife, on the other hand, speaks quietly and emphatically and should you disagree with what she’s saying, she’ll assume you misunderstood her and so she’ll say the same thing again in a slightly different way.    And should you continue to misunderstand her, she will keep repeating herselfand repeating herself  until you are either no longer ignorant or can no longer stand it.

I get it, I’ll say!  For God’s sakes, I get it!!!   

Do you, she’ll say?  Do you really?  

Yes, yes, I’ll say!  You’re right – whatever you want! 

For by this time, I have no idea what we were even arguing about.   All I know is the time I allocate to other people is up and I want to be alone now so I can brood in peace and quiet.

But because my wife is made this way, after an argument she wants to make sure we make up.   She wants a hug and kiss.  Which I find a problem because although I can forgive screaming and shouting, losing a winning argument because the other person stubbornly argues longer than I do, leaves a bitter taste in mouth.    

But of course, me not kissing and hugging and putting it behind us, means we will have another argument.   The whole thing will start again.

I was on the couch last night.   I was on the couch for the same reason I always am.   I snore.

Men live lives of quiet desperation.

Monday, January 24, 2011


More in the annals of dog-dom and then I’ll quit the subject for awhile.   Walking my hounds this morning I realized they each address the art of defecation in different ways. 

Dog 1, Napoleon, hunkers down and does his business with uninhibited, unashamed gusto.   The expression on his face is relaxed.  His tongue is lolling.  He’s panting slightly, obviously enjoying himself.   Finished, he bounds happily away. 

Dog 2, Louie, squats and strains as if resigned.   He occasionally squints up at you as if to make sure you’re not going to attack him while his guard is down.   Activity completed, he steps forward, kicks dirt back on the offending pile and then, as if to say he’s had nothing to do with it, trots away. 

And finally there’s my mother in law’s dog, Russell.   Russell drops his butt and immediatly begins looking in all directions as if mortified someone might see him.  He looks at you, looks away, then looks back as if hoping you’ve left.   He takes little steps forward as if trying to get away from each individual turd as it drops.  I sense that sometimes he quits before he’s finished.  

Enjoyment.  Resignation.  Embarrassment.  The only thing similar in these dogs morning rituals is I’m the one who cleans up after them.   And as I do, I wonder what is says about me that I’ve finally come to ponder, and write about, the bowel movements of canines.

Addendum 1
My idiots saw a rabbit this morning and just about dragged me across the field before I could get them off leash.  They proceeded to steam shovel through the undergrowth, besides themselves with excitment and at the thought of fresh meat.  I was reminded of the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where Elmer Fudd, as Wotan, sings along to Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries - Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit!!!  Fortunately the dogs don't sing.

Addendum 2
As mentioned my wife is training a service dog, a ten week old puppy.   Like babies, puppies are cute enough that you don't throw them out.   Unlike babies, puppies have teeth like needles.   I picked up said puppy this morning - I don't know what possessed me - and the sprightly beast proceeded to bite me right on the nose.   Blood ensued and I fear there will be permanent scarring.

Men live lives of quiet desperation

Friday, January 21, 2011

morning exercise

I walk two of ours dogs on a semi-regular basis.  As mentioned they are designer dogs - labradoodles - part poodle which means they are not dogs - they look like dogs but they have a mind of their own.  They are only devoted when they want something.   On the days i walk them, their devotion starts around 7 am.  They follow me around the house, staring at me.
As I drink coffee, they stand motionless, waiting and staring.   They follow me into the bedroom to stare at me while I dress.  It is an baleful, impatient unrelenting stare.   They stare, motionless and waiting, until finally I sigh, collect "poop bags" which means anything plastic, put said bags in my pocket, leash said dogs up and off we go.   This time of year I also sigh and stop and collect my mother-in-law's dog - also a labradoodle.  He is not a motionless, starer.   Such is his impatience to be walked, he is a whirling dervish  who whines and runs in circles at the sight of me, making it nearly impossible to throw a leash with around his stupid neck.   Finally, off we go with each dog pulling and dragging and circling, with me trying to keep the leashes straight, shouting heel, heel, to no avail.   I might as well be shouting mush to turtles.   We are fortunate in that we have a large field near out house.  Dogs in the neighborhood gather there is roust imaginary rabbits and to stiff each others behinds.   It's telling that I know the name of the dogs - Dakota and Nick, Bluster, Aurora, Ariel,  Chance, Timmy and Greta - and Hanson, a joyful lab, who is missing a front leg and so when he jumps up to greet you, usually drives the leg he does have, into one's groin - but don't know the name of the dog owners.   But as the dogs, run and poop and whizz and hump one another and in between picking up poop and trying to part the humping dogs, there is often pleasant conversation.    Except this morning.  For me.   Because my three dogs decided it was a nice morning to roll in human feces.   Why a human being would shit in a dog field and why a dog would roll in human being shit is beyond me, but this happens.    And so  I had to leash them up and take them home.   We have a water nozzle on our hose and I turned it to jet spray.  I turned the faucet to high.   And I blasted those f-ing dogs.  I took human shampoo which they hate the smell of and I washed them silly.  Then I blasted them some more.   By the time I finished, my hands and clothes smell like shit.  The only satisying part was when I took my mother in law's dog - still covered in feces - back to her house and told her to clean her own stupid dog.  My stupid dogs are now in the backyard looking sullen.  I could care less.  I plan to spend the rest of the staring at them. 
Men lives lives of quiet desperation.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Dog

--- my dear wife who for years resisted any thoughts of a dog, decided all at once some five years ago that " we need a dog" - not just any dog - a designer dog - smart and sturdy and people friendly and most important - DID NOT SHED! - so she went on line and researched and as is her want found the BEST kennel - meaning most expensive - in the northern hemisphere for labradoodles.   Hence came Louie.  To my mind not a brain surgeon and not the most affectionate dog I'd ever known (it's the poodle in him, said my wife  -- poodles are not dogs, said a dog owning friend) but at least a dog.  And then a year later the lovely wife decided Louie needed a friend.  And so from the same kennel came Napoleon.  Certainly more friendly but not any more bright  -- or perhaps they were both too bright; I've heard it said that a smart dog is on the same level as a retarded child and both these dogs certainly seemed retarded.   And then over a year ago, the lovely wife decided that our son  needed his "own" dog.  And so we got Mully, a yellow lab, who is brilliant, friendly to a fault, is an eating machine and sheds enough in a week for me to build another dog from the droppings.    I've heard it said that dogs are devoted, attentive, loving and faithful - which is why they often become a wife's substitute for her husband.   If this is true, I really must be an inattentive, insensitive rogue because my dear wife has decided now she wants to train a dog and so we will have a new puppy in mid-January - a vishlu (sp?) which from the pictures looks like a hairless Afghan hound - which is related to a poodle - and poodles are dogs in name only.  Four dogs.  The addition of one more means we qualify as a kennel and will need a business license.  Needless to say the three we already have use the furniture as their own and I have no reason to feel the forth will be any different.    Men indeed do live lives of quiet desperation.