Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My seventeen daughter likes reality shows. 

My daughter likes Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Tuscaloosa, Tampa, Miami, Des Moines, Beaver Falls, Imperial Beach and Youngstown, Ohio.  She likes Rock Star Wives which is an adventure in talentless women being married to former rhythm guitarists.  She likes Rock of Love which is an adventure in talentless women trying to marry a former rhythm guitarist.   She likes America’s Top Make Over which is an adventure in unattractive women, through a regime of exercise, nutrition and plastic surgery, being turned into America’s Next Top Model which is an adventure in self-involvement.   

She doesn’t like Jersey Shore which she considers pathetic.   

She occasionally likes some pool party from Las Vegas show where waitresses try to chisel tips from shirtless, drunken morons and bouncers try to break up fights.   She likes it when the fighting morons are women.

She used to like The Girls Next Store which was about three Playboy centerfolds living in a mansion, pretending to be an oblivious octogenarian’s harem.  The girls are always going to photo shoots, planning “cute” parties and donating their time to charity.  The octogenarian – okay, Hugh Hefner – “Hef” – is called sweetie.   It is implied that the girls sleep with him.  One is not sure if it’s all at once or one at a time but regardless, you know there’s going to be a ton of make-up on the pillow.   The girls’ parents seem to approve.

How do I know all this?   I know this because I like spending time with my daughter and these days, since being in the same room with her is an event, I watch reality television as well.  

I sputter in disbelief.   I roll my eyes in contempt.   I provide withering commentary.   How can you watch this drivel, I say?   

It’s funny, she says. 

You’re a smart, sensible, self-reliant young woman with aspirations and diverse interests, I say.   The people on these shows are social mutants and materialistic courtesans.    

I don't take it seriously, she says.

I tell her when I was a boy, Playboy was hidden under mattresses.  I tell her I lived through the time when feminists burned their bras.  (If they did, I wasn’t paying attention.)   I tell her the women on these shows don’t even need bras – their breasts are that plastic.  

If you don’t like it, leave the room,, she says.

But I don’t.  It is funny and I'm not taking it seriously and  I’m having too much fun making fun.  

I only hope she is too.


More and more I realize the reason I write this little blog about the enjoyable, and exaggerated indignities of a self-proclaimed “desperate man” - his silly dogs, his work, his family - is because the real world  has become too serious not to.   The newspaper has been a daily companion for forty years.  We share coffee in the morning.  I dislike talking to others before it talks to me.   It makes me sad and it frightens me, what it’s telling me these days.

We all live lives of quiet desperation.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mutts and Salesman

Okay, more dogs.  Because they amuse me.

There’s a moment in the film, The Godfather III, when Al Pacino remarks – well, not remarks; Al Pacino never just remarks  - he snarls – “every time I try to get out... they pull me back in”.

I often feel this way about the family dogs.  They have a conspiracy going to keep me involved in their lives no matter how much I say no.  Yesterday:

Napoleon puked up a pair of my daughter’s underwear. 
Louie puked up some grass he’d eaten.
Mully had diarrhea on the living room rug.
Juneau ate a shoe.

All before 7 am.  

I dealt with it.  Paper towels.  Some kind of liquid something. 

I am obviously not the only man who does this kind of thing as the liquid something is something special that one throws down on pee, poop, puke and half digested underwear.  Someone, somewhere, is making money making some kind of something that dispirited men everywhere throw on floors after dogs.

When I later took these undeserving canines for a walk, I suffered further.

Russell, the dog next door, ate some shit.   (I later told my mother in law it was mud so that she'd clean it up).

Napoleon hooked up with a female Akita and proceeded to try and hump her senseless.   The idiot has been fixed since he was six months old and he doesn’t seem to know it.   The Akita’s owner, obviously a woman with too much time on her hands, told me that it was a dominance issue, not a sexual one.   Which made me wonder about her personal life.

Louie decided it would be a good day to get a fox tail in his ear.  He cocked his head sideways.  He shook his head.  He scratched an ear.   He shook his head some more.  All the way home. 

I was hoping my wife wouldn’t notice but she did. 

He has a fox tail in his ear, she said. 
No, I said, he’s just goofy.  
Take him to the vet, she said. 
You do it, I said.  
You were walking him, she said, it’s your responsibility.
But -

I took him to the vet. 

Wax, the vet said.
Wax, I said.

I paid the vet a hundred dollars for wax, listened to everyone tell me what a wonderful dog I had, kicked the wonderful dog into the backseat of the car and took him home.

As I walked in the door, my lovely wife rushed up to me, on the verge of female tears.  What have I done now, I thought.

The puppy has eaten something, she said.
Of course he has, I said, he’s a dog.
He’s not acting right, she said.
Of course he isn’t, I said, he’s a dog.
You have to take him to the vet, my wife said.
No, I said.  He was with you, he’s your responsibility.

I took him to the vet.

Growing pains, the vet said.
Growing pains, I said.
Growing pains, the vet said.

I paid the vet a hundred dollars for growing pains.  I listened to everyone tell me what a wonderful dog I had.  I wanted to kick the wonderful dog into the backseat of the car but knew I'd be in scalding hot water if I did.   I took him home.

You would think this would be it with dogs for the day and if you did, you would be terribly and horribly wrong.

It was when someone rang the doorbell.   Startled, and embarrassed at being snuck up on, each and every dog decided the only way to salvage any dignity was to go ballistic.   

The doorbell rang again and all four geniuses, galloped, baying, from their respective corners of the house. 

Just as they arrived the chip off the ol’ block son, because he’s been told he shouldn’t open the door to strangers, opened the door to a stranger.
It was, of course, a solicitor because who else in their right mind would be going door to door at night disturbing dogs.  He was selling cable services.

The dogs, furious, decided to teach him a lesson.  They barreled through the open door, circled him and began to collectively lick his cheap, black suit into submission.  

“Do something!!”, my wife cried!

I offered to go check on our liability insurance.

Not good enough.    

I sighed at the ignominy of it all.  Picking up a pipe wrench, I went out the door and waded into the melee, striking out – right, left, left, right! 

Heel!  Heel, I cried!

The dogs, from habit and because they are dogs, dodged artfully.  The solicitor did not.  To avert the law suit, I bought a four hundred dollar cable package.

Men live lives of quiet desperation.


When I die, I want to come back as a dog.  At my house.