b Papa Dog's Blog: January 2005

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Monday, January 31, 2005


I spent more time than really seems reasonable this weekend installing the new big-girl car seat. Mama Dog had noticed sometime this week that the old car seat has specs not just for maximum weight but also maximum height (or length, depending on verticality of child). While Baby Dog is still within the weight limits, she passed the height limit some time ago, a fact we maybe ought to have been apprised of by the way her little feet stick out over the end of the seat. The big girl seat is the Britax Roundabout*, which we’ve had sitting in a box in the basement for some time, waiting for the right growth spurt.

The first problem was that there appeared to be no manual enclosed in the box. I looked up and shrugged, like, “Hey, I got the chair out of the box, what more can I do now?” Mama Dog, not so easily dissuaded, went on the Internet and found a PDF of the installation manual. We both looked it over, Mama Dog methodically highlighting important passages in pink, me just figuring I’d spot the important passages when I sat down to install the thing. There’s a difference in our work styles right there.

When I did get down to the installation, the first important passage I noticed was the bit about using a two-colour bar in the margin of the instruction booklet as a guide to check the suitability of installation sites. Since what we were using was not the actual instruction booklet but a black-and white simulacrum of same printed on 8½ ´ 11 paper rather than whatever odd size the booklet was, this measurement tool was, to employ a technical term, fucking useless. Not to be dissuaded, I dragged the seat out to the car, removed the base from the little girl seat, and set about guesstimating.

Since we’ve gotten along pretty well so far with the baby seat in the rear passenger seat, that’s where I started. I’d only been wrestling around with it for a few minutes when much to be surprise I discovered, tucked away deep inside the base of the car seat, the missing instruction booklet. It was fastened into place with a metal bit that, so far as I can determine, can only be removed with the jaws of life. The flexible cord attaching it to the metal bit is just barely long enough to get the booklet out and open it. If I wanted to read through it, I was going to have to do it there in the back seat of the car.

Helpfully, the instruction booklet tells you the location of the instruction booklet under the base of the car seat. You need to find the instruction booklet to read the directions for finding the instruction booklet, but hey, let’s not quibble.

First thing I looked for was the bit with the two-colour bar in the margin. Which wasn’t there. Wasn’t the same instruction booklet at all. So which do I follow? The one in the bowels of the car seat, which reason dictates is the one they mean you to use? Or the one on the Internet, which is surely the more recently updated of the two? It was becoming clear to me that I was setting out on a task which was going to include a number of irresolvable paradoxes.

Since the instruction booklet from the car seat didn’t have the two-colour bar thingy, I decided it couldn’t really be that important after all and stopped thinking about it. I skipped ahead to the instructions for rear-facing installation. They were pretty straightforward. Pull the seatbelt out. Thread it through the holes in the underside of the car seat. Buckle. Pull tight while pushing down like a motherfucker on the seat to make sure it’s belted in as securely as possible. Clamp with the clip thingy on the side.

This all seemed pretty easy, actually. I had gotten a pretty good grounding in the “pull tight while pushing like a motherfucker” system (a little more technical jargon, there) during the installation of the little girl seat. We went to the CHP and got really good instruction on the whole thing, and particularly the importance of getting right on the seat and pushing down with your knees like you meant to do it serious harm. I got the thing pretty tight. Not as tight as the old car seat had been, but pretty tight.

Mama Dog came out to test it. She grabbed the top of the seat and rocked it around until it came out of the belt. Oh. Back to the drawing board.

We decided that maybe centre installation was the answer. That did in fact work out better. I think maybe this was the point of the two-colour bar in the margin of the Internet version of the instruction booklet. The side seat belts entered the car seat base at a bad angle. The centre seat belt comes in straight. I tramped down on the seat like I had Sean Hannity’s head under it, pulled the belt as tight as it could go, and latched it off securely. Much better. We went off to a baby shower with Baby Dog in her new seat, fairly sure that the thing wouldn’t go flying off into space.

Later, Mama Dog said, “What about the tether?” “What tether?” I asked. She showed me her methodical pink highlighting on a later section in the manual. “I though this stuff was optional,” I said. Mama Dog had done a little investigating with her cyberfriends. Turns out the tether thingy is the part that makes the car seat…uh…safe. And without it, it’s…uh…not.

I looked again at the manual. The tether part comes three sections after the installation part. It starts “Before installation…” I started tearing hair. “Before installation?” If you’re supposed to do this before installation, why does it show up in the instructions three sections after the installation guide? Yes, I know, you’re supposed to read the whole manual before you put the thing in. But really, who does that? And who doesn’t expect Step One to show up somewhere near the start of the instructions?

So, it turns out there’s a tether – a long seatbelt-type strap – that unfolds from a pouch in the back of the seat. This is where the instructions went past tricky and became just plain unfathomable. At the front of the booklet there’s an illustration of the car seat, with arrows pointing to each important element, defining it by name. The tether is not included in this illustration. Right – the thing that’s supposed to be the most crucial safety element in the whole package. Not there. No definitions supplied. So when it says – as it does – something like “Lift the tether adjuster tab,” I’m supposed to – what? – guess what the tether adjuster tab might be? Then it says something about pulling the tether back to make a v-shape. The tether is just one long strap attached on only one end. How am I supposed to make a v-shape out of a straight line by pulling it back? The illustrations give no clue.

Mama Dog got on the neighbourhood parents’ group bulletin board system to ask for help from anybody who had a similar car seat system. We got several answers, none of which had anything to do with the problem we were experiencing. I have the feeling that the tether was supposed to be attached to the car seat at two points but for some reason was only attached at one. It was up to me to guess how to reattach the loose end.

On top of that, I had to struggle with the description of tether anchorage locations in the car’s owner’s manual. Since the owner’s manual is written without knowing what car seat you’re going to use and the car seat installation booklet is written without knowing what car the seat is going into, there are big gaps in information between the two, unexpressed assumptions and dubious apprehensions. It was clear, however, that the only predrilled anchorage points were in the trunk, so I investigated there. I spent some time bundled into the trunk of the car like an unfortunate minor character in a Tarantino movie – sticking my leg out the end so passing miscreants could break my knees by slamming the door shut but not lock me in – until I finally located the bolt holes. I got the tether anchor bolted into place,** but still had no clue how to reattach the tether to the car seat, if in fact that’s what I was supposed to do.

At length, I found a page that at least illustrated what the end product was supposed to look like. Unfortunately, none of the pictures show clearly what I needed to know – how the loose strap reconnects with the seat – but it was enough to give me a vague idea. I ran the tether through the bolted anchor and returned it back through to the back seat and put the end into a clip on the back of the car seat, which seemed the only logical space for it to go. The belt seemed likely to slip out of the clip if pulled, so I knotted it around the fixed end of the tether. It didn’t seem quite according to Hoyle, but it was the best I could do. It seemed stable enough for cautious use – and in fact we went out to a restaurant later that night using this set-up – but I urged Mama dog to see Jon and Ponch at her earliest convenience to get an expert opinion.

The earliest convenience turned out to be today – in the past, we’ve had to make appointments weeks in advance, but there was a convenient cancellation and Mama Dog was able to have the seat examined by the CHP same-day. The fellow who went over it said I’d done a good job with what I thought I had to work with, but that the trunk anchors are really meant for a front-facing car seat. The manual says nothing of the sort, but I guess we’ve established already that the manual is a little, shall we say, haphazard. There are fixed loops on the rear seat floor that don’t correspond to anything mentioned in either the car seat manual or the owner’s manual of the car, but Jon or Ponch said these were the things to use, and he showed Mama Dog how to hook the tether thusly.

So the car seat’s in to stay, by hook if not by crook. I probably should have spent the weekend watching TV and reading old newspapers, but it was all for the love and safety of the child, and I hope she’ll remember that when it’s her turn to change my diapers.
*I’m not positive, but I think we have the “Jefferson tan” one.
** Here I’m skipping over the trip Mama Dog made to the hardware store to get a bolt and a spacer, during the course of which she had a Retail Moron experience she may or may not choose to recount in her own faversham.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Bachelor Laundry

Out of our kitchen window I’m able to see an alternate universe version of my life. Specifically, I see neighbour Mike’s laundry strung sad and lonely on a line in his back yard. It’s always shirts, for some reason. When he first moved in last year, it was a neat line of thematically consistent t-shirts. I think he had a few Hawaiian things out for a while. Lately there’s been a row of striped button-down Gap shirts identical except for the colour of the stripes. “He’s the sort of guy,” Mama Dog observed, “who finds something that works for him, and then sticks with it.” Or stocks up on it, at least. It’s the laundry line of a bachelor, clearly. It’s laundry that stays out sometimes days at a time because he forgets it’s there. Does he bring it in before it rains? I guess so. But maybe sometimes he forgets. There but for the grace of Mama Dog go I.

We don’t know neighbour Mike very well. Or at all, really. He’s older than us, we know that – divorced, with children somewhere, maybe grown. He seems very much by himself. The house where he lives had been previously tenanted by some students from Japan, who mysteriously disappeared last summer. We noticed the change when we realised that Yoshi’s cigarette smoke had stopped coming in our kitchen window and that the line of t-shirts had appeared. We found out later that Mike had bought the place, and that it was an owner move-in situation. It made me kind of sad; other than the cigarette smoke, they’d been good neighbours. As it turned out, we have no complaints against neighbour Mike either, and in fact he was very helpful during Mama Dog’s birthday bash, loaning us some extra chairs and staying a while at the party. He seemed a nice enough bloke. His initial appearance in the neighbourhood was strange, though. A bunch of file boxes heralded his arrival. The room facing our kitchen, which had stood empty for some weeks, began to accrue stacks of boxes, a few more every day. We thought at first the old owner had kicked Yoshi and the girls out just to use the place for file storage. “I think I get it,” I said, as the boxes started to brick over the window, “he’s putting these up instead of curtains.”

It made me think of the days when instead of furniture, I had boxes and boxes of comics books, the leftover inventory from my failed publishing empire. Three boxes stacked on top of each other were an end table. Two were a bed-side table. Ten arranged carefully could make a chair, but the back had to be against the wall or the whole thing would collapse when you leaned back. I felt I knew very well neighbour Mike’s file boxes and t-shirts and his Eleanor Rigby laundry cycle.

I thought also of another poor sad bachelor I once knew – let’s call him Horatio – who would buy new clothes or new shoes and then leave them in his closet untouched and still in the original packaging until he decided to return them for store credit. Simon, who knew Horatio better than I, told me about Horatio’s closet over coffee one day. It was one of Horatio’s many self-defeating ways that drove Simon crazy. “Why does he do that?” Simon asked. At the time I had no answer, but looking back over a distance of years I have a guess. I think Horatio was always looking for a change, but could never quite believe in his ability to pull off even something so small as a new kind of shoes.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Shower Time with Daddy

We had a tight schedule this morning, a 10 a.m. appointment with our lawyer to finalise our will and living trust documents, with many errands to be crammed in before. There was a parcel to be picked up at the post office, Doggy Dog needed a walk, Baby Dog needed her breakfast, and all the quotidian obligations of daily life had to be met. Mama Dog went out to get the parcel around nine and I still needed to shower. I set Baby Dog down in her crib and she started to cry. I had to agree, it seemed like a gyp. She’d barely been up at all. I started trying to figure out a way for me to have a shower without letting her feel abandoned. I thought about setting the Exersaucer in the bathroom doorway, but worried the dog might barrel over her in his enthusiasm when Mama Dog returned. Finally, I decided that the safest accommodation was the high chair. I dragged it into the bathroom, set Baby Dog up in it, and had a shower while she played with her high chair toys. I played peek-a-boo from behind the shower curtain now and then and she sang along with me on “The Irish Rover.” Mama Dog came home in the midst of it, and thought it was the cutest thing ever.

I was thinking later, though – and it’s a thought that’s crossed my mind a number of times since the baby was born – when is she too old to see Daddy in his showering clothes? I mean, she doesn’t much know the difference at seven months old, but at what point on the slippery slope do I need to divert to the kiddie trail? The truth is, I’m kind of clothing optional in the privacy of my own home and haven’t changed my habits much since the new housemate arrived. I’ll put a robe on if I get out of bed to tend to her for one reason or another, but for the most part I haven’t suffered from an excess of modesty where she’s concerned. Am I scarring her emotionally or am I teaching her about human anatomy? I don’t remember ever seeing my parents naked, and happy I am for that. When do I need to start extending the same courtesy to my daughter?

Friday, January 28, 2005

A Tiny Bit of Puffery About My Weight Because All I Did Today Otherwise Was Work Late and Now I Have a Streak to Save

I guess I haven’t caught you up on my weigh loss quest, probably on account of the initial news was of a rather sheepish quality. After my initial half-pound loss, fate and our social calendar conspired to make me a cheese-eating hog for the following week. We had fondue night, then there was mac & cheese, then there was pizza. Where was all this cheese coming from all of a sudden? I don’t know, but I knew where it was going – straight down the old (to quote my darling wife) word hole. Under the circumstances, I was greatly relieved when the week was over and the extent of the damage was the half pound regained. 200.5 again. So much for my “I’ll never be over 200 again” smugness.

This week, though – I guess I was good. No slabs of cheese, no chocolate bars at tea time – just fruits and vegetable for snacks, honest to Crom. When I looked at the lardimeter this morning, I had to blink and recheck the digital readout twice because the number looked wrong starting with a digit other than “2.” Somehow I dropped 3½ pounds last week, and I couldn’t be more chuffed about it. Yay me. Time for ice cream.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Student of the Mysteries of Office Furniture

One of the drawbacks of my workplace has the capricious distribution of office supplies. Computers, for example. I regularly print very large files under tight deadline pressure, so naturally I’ve always had whatever model of computer is just old enough to seem creepingly slow and prone to failure compared to everything else in the office. Certain Kenny Rogers-looking individuals somewhat further up the food chain who use their computer once a fortnight to check the email always seem to have the top-of-the-line stuff. That one I can live with. I mean, I get the work itself done really quickly, so the longer it takes to print the more billable I am, right? Well, whatever. The thing that’s always bugged me has been my inability to score a decent chair. I have chronic lower back problems, attributable somewhat to having slept in an easy chair for a year in the 90s, but certainly exacerbated by fifteen years of computer work on crappy office chairs. I’m a Worker’s Comp claim waiting to happen. Whenever my back hurt, I used to ask the old office manager for a new chair. She’d always hem and haw about budget freezes and promise to do something about it when the money was available. One time she brought me a backrest that the little French guy left behind when he quit in disgust and went off to work at a competitor (which competitor was, ironically, swallowed by the competitor that later swallowed us; you can’t leave the place if you try). Admittedly, the backrest helped a little bit, but compared to a new chair it was – oh, what’s the word? – oh yes – crap. On the other hand, one day out of the blue the IT guy came over and hooked up a business card scanner to my computer. Why? Not something I ever asked for. Turns out some Kenny Rogers-looking bloke had a bee in his bonnet about creating a business card database and thought I was the man for the job. “Uh, okay,” I said, and waited for somebody to come by and ask me to scan some business cards. That was about four years ago. I’ve still never used the thing. If anybody ever does ask me to scan a business card, it might be problematic because the scanner is buried under dust and papers and I’m not sure where the manual is, if I ever had one.

Eventually I learned that if you want a better chair the only thing to do is find an abandoned one and claim it as your own. I’m fortunate in that regard because my corner of the building seems to be the elephant’s graveyard of unused chairs. I don’t know who brings them over or why, but they seem to accumulate in nearby empty cubicles or by the drafting table around the corner. I’ve switched chairs several times in the last couple years. It always seems at first to be an upgrade, but it always disappoints eventually. The seemingly firm back support gives way to hopeless springiness. The armrests eventually seem too far apart or too close together. I can never get the height adjusted just the right way. Tufts of stuffing start popping out of the back. And always, always, they eventually start to squeak like crazy. One by one they all get rotated back to the elephant’s graveyard.

Then this morning, by happy accident, I chanced to look into the cubicle of my recently departed neighbour, whose constant chatter and braying laugh I’ve honestly come to miss since his layoff. “The place seems so quiet without him,” I thought wistfully, coming back from the lunch room with my tea. And “He sure did get a raw deal,” I thought, nearing his cube. And, “Huh, didn’t he used to have plants or something? Did he take them away or are they going to die in here?” I thought, looking over the cube wall. And then: “HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD! LOOK AT THE CHAIR HE LEFT BEHIND!!!”

So now I have a high-backed leather (Imitation? Like I care?) chair so massive I feel like I finally have a back wall to my cubicle. I can lean my head back on it! Give me a white cat and I’d be Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Give me a big screen TV and I’d be Captain Kirk. My back didn’t feel noticeably better after the switch, but god damn, I’ve got a chair with some attitude now!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Going Back for the Poo

When you’re a dog owner – round these parts, anyway – you always have plastic bags in your pockets. Chronicle bags (i.e., the plastic bags used to encase home delivery copies of the San Francisco Chronicle on rainy days) are a perennial favourite for pooper scooping, but when the rain dries up so does the supply of bags. Long-time faversham followers will know I have a history of hoarding bags from the dog park. After the “Mount Mutt Mitt” incident, I made a guilt order from the manufacturer and have a crate of the things properly bought and paid for. Generally, I have four bags on me at any given time, one in each of the front pockets of my pants and jacket. If I pull a coat out of the closet that I haven’t worn since this time last year, I’m sure of finding a poop bag in each pocket. I replace the things automatically and automatically check my pockets before leaving for walkies to make sure they’re there. That’s why I was so baffled tonight when Doggy Dog took a postprandial dump on someone’s well-manicured lawn, and I came up empty in all four pockets. “How is this even possible?” I asked myself. Granted, I’ve been wearing a raincoat the last couple of days and a change in routine is known to throw one off, but still…to have not even noticed I was running low on crap grabbers is…well…un-me. We were a good five or six blocks from home, so I had no choice but to shut off my little Maglite, straighten up casually as though I’d actually picked something up (in case I was being monitored), and head on home with the dog while his poop cooled into an unsavoury welcome mat. I thought of begging a spare bag off some other passing dogwalker – somebody did that once from me, in fact – but this was the one night of the year when nobody else was out with a dog.

As it happened, we were going out anyway. I restocked bags. I got five, just to make sure I was ahead for tomorrow night. I had Mama Dog detour slightly on our way to the Pirates’ house and returned to the scene of the crime. The poo was cold by then. I don’t think I’ve ever scooped up cold dog poop. Somehow it makes you more aware that you’re picking up faeces. I hurried back to the cul-de-sac with the garbage can where Mama Dog was parked. At least my back’s feeling a little better, so I was able to walk more or less normally instead of shuffling along. We will teach Baby Dog, I hope, to be responsible and to have a conscience. But maybe we won’t mention that this means you have to go back later and pick up the poo.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

My Annual Obsession Over Little Gold Bald Dudes

So, the nominations for the 77th Annual Festival of Mediocrity have been announced. We thought, what with the newfound responsibilities of child-rearing and all, that we wouldn’t have seen many of the nominated features, but we’ve managed better than I would have expected. Of the thirteen films nominated in the top five categories (Picture, Director, Actors), I’ve seen seven and Mama Dog has seen six. The ones we’ve seen include multiple nominees like Sighed Weighs and The A-V Ate Her, so with just a little catch-up we might actually be conversant with the field by awards night.

I was glad to find myself just familiar enough with the year in films to feel a little of the comfortable old outrage at the inexplicable caprices of the Academy. Like, how in the hell is Paul Giamatti not on the list of Best Actors? They manage to correctly identify the movie as one of the year’s five best, but they don’t condescend to recognise its central performance? So they could make room for what? Johnny fucking Depp again? I’d say “Don’t get me started,” but I guess it’s too late for that.

Anyway, as those of you not new to the Papa Dog experience know, I run an Oscar pool every year. The great thing about an Oscar pool – I think – is that it does what would seem to be otherwise impossible: it makes Oscar night exciting! Without a pool, the Oscar telecast is four hours of schmaltz and tedium. But put your sawbuck down on Uncle Papa Dog’s Patented Old-Time Oscar Pool Pick-Me-Up Jamboree, and there you’ve got yourself the whirlwind thrill ride combination of cinema and gambling. Suddenly, every category matters! You care which Live Action Short wins, even though you never heard of any of them until you filled out your ballot! There are no boring spots the whole night long!* This year for the first time I’ll be taking ballots over the Internet, so all you virtual acquaintances can join in if you like. Haven’t got all the details worked out at press time, but if you’re keen to join in, post a comment or send me an email. Chris Rock’s going to host! Maybe it won’t suck!
*With the obvious exceptions of the opening production number, the reading of the rules, the stuff about who won at the technical awards dinner the previous week, the presentation of the Thalberg, Jean Hersholt, or other honourary awards, the Best Song dance numbers, most of the speeches, the lame jokes being read by presenters off the teleprompter, any tribute to anything, the montage of the dead, and anything to do with Whoopi Goldberg. Okay, honestly, it’s still pretty boring. But really, you perk up every time an award is actually presented, even if it’s for something you’re not sure of the definition of, like Sound Editing.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Post Script to Last Post

It occurred to me on the evening dog hobble just now that I may inadvertently have left an inccorect impression on my last post. When I said "Doggy Dog had to be fed. Baby Dog had to be interacted with. Had to pack a lunch. Had to set the VCR for 24, and damn if any of the surplus videotapes I got from Mama Dog’s dad would work. There was one load of dishes and another of folded laundry from last night that needed to be put away," I meant to imply neither that interacting with Baby Dog is a chore nor that it falls below feeding the dog in importance. It was just a list of things I did before leaving work, rendered in more or less the order they occurred chronologically.

(And, if you're wondering, Mama Dog didn't tell me to post this erratum. I thought it up all by myself.)

Still Like Crap, Thanks. How Are YOU Feeling?

So, as the cold symptoms worsened yesterday I started to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t just call in sick for Monday. I have two regular backup operators. One was already scheduled to come in late in the afternoon and into the evening for a specific project, so he was out. I called the other, and she said she couldn’t do it. I looked at the phone for a few seconds after hanging up, hoping that some other number would present itself to be dialled, but no such luck. This is what indispensability gets you. You have job security, but you have to work while pestilent. I tell my orkers* to keep their distance, but I’m still touching everything. If I were them, I’d tell me to stay home.

There was other stuff to be done before I left the house, too. Doggy Dog had to be fed. Baby Dog had to be interacted with. Had to pack a lunch. Had to set the VCR for 24, and damn if any of the surplus videotapes I got from Mama Dog’s dad would work. There was one load of dishes and another of folded laundry from last night that needed to be put away. In the middle of putting a bunch of napkins away in the back hall closet, I suddenly noticed that my back wasn’t planning on supporting me for the next little while. I let out what I believe is the standard International Red Cross distress call: “Ow! Shit! Fuck!” and sank to my knees, cursing my foolishness. Really, to think that I could lean forward and bend at the same time! What was I thinking? I tried to get up, but all I had to support myself on was a bulk lot of toilet paper from Costco. I pushed, it gave. No leverage. Mama Dog came and helped me to my feet. It wasn’t the worst back episode I’ve ever had. The worst would have been a few years back when I ended up on bed rest for a week. It was pretty bad, though, and I was left racking my brains trying to figure out how my work could get done without me being there.

I was able to hobble about somewhat close to normally after a bit, so I just had Mama Dog drive me to BART (thank you, wife!) – an option made possible by Saturday’s arrival of Gran, who was able to look after the bairn while I was Medivaced to my train. I was entertaining thoughts of announcing, “My back’s out and I’m about to fall over. Anybody want to let me sit down?” when the train arrived, but as it turned out I was so late that peak commute was over. There were actual empty seats in the car I shuffled onto. I pulled down the special fold-up chair in the handicapped space because I felt, for the morning, entitled.

My back hopelessly locked, my head swollen and throbbing, I gimped my way up Spear Street wondering what was next. I put my hand in my coat pocket and thought, “Oh, that’s what’s next.” I had a hangnail that was irritated and inflamed. The slightest touch was painful, and I was going to spend the day using that finger to type. Now, I know this isn’t exactly the stuff of Job, but I was starting to feel a little picked on.

Thankfully, my job entails sitting on my bum most of the day, so I really only have to deal with the back when I go for my tea (or to relieve myself thereof). I took a couple of Advil, and that helped a bit. I swilled a little DayQuil for the cold, and that helped a bit. I put a Band-Aid® on the hangnail and thought “Ha ha, an affliction I can effectively suppress!” Tomorrow, I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow I’ll stay home.
*As in cow-orkers.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

My Sinuses Could Destroy Tokyo

So, I feel like crap. Cold symptoms started to announce their imminence midway through the poker game last night. I finished the game up $11 but dozy, having trouble keeping track of things but managing an inexplicably smooth count-out.

Bernardo and I went out for a wee drinky at McNally’s after the game. Last call was pretty early, so we only had time for but, but by then I was chewing on ice to keep the swelling at the back of my throat down. We headed out, intending to grab a cab at the BART station cab stand, but – der – it was one a.m. and BART wasn’t running. There weren’t going to be cabs there anytime soon. Bernardo caught a bus and I walked home, noticing that it was staring to hurt to swallow.

Mama Dog let me sleep in this morning, but I still felt pretty miserable. We had popsicles leftover from last June. We had expected to use them during labour and delivery – it’s one of the things the mom’s allowed to eat at that stage – but I don’t think we even remembered to bring them to the hospital. They served right nicely to soothe my throat this morning, though. An Advil warded off a headache, and I felt more or less okay once I’d napped a bit more.

I just heard that Johnny Carson died, I’m bummed and ready to go back to bed. I think I’ll be working under the influence of DayQuil tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Horses and Other Critters

My dad plays the ponies these days – specifically, harness racing – and that’s become one of the regular topics of my Saturday morning calls. I sent him a copy of Seabiscuit last year after I read it myself. I don’t know if that’s what inspired him to take up pari-mutuel betting or if it was just one of those confluences of ideas ready to happen. Something in the air.

There’s something to the synchronicity angle, I suppose. In December, right around the time we first started talking about his little wagers, Ambrose blew through town, somewhat more subdued than in past visits, but still the little whirligig of plans for things we just have to do. Uncharacteristically, a lot of this revolved around wagering on animal contests. He was in a lather to see Warren Oates in Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter, for example, something we’d been frustrated in attempts to do in visits past. We managed this time, and it was a really fine example of a 1970s drive-in art movie, something that sadly will probably never exist again. It may well have been Warren Oates’ finest performance, and there aren’t going to be any more of those, either (unless Lord Olivier’s appearance in that Cap’n Billy’s Whiz Bang movie is a harbinger of things to come).

Ambrose’s other big plan was to take an outing to Golden Gate Fields. He had recently learned of the East Bay’s best-known racetrack in something or other he read about Neal Cassady, who apparently used to bet on horses there. Surprisingly, he had even managed to retain in his memory something very close to the correct name of the place, so I knew what he was talking about when he started expounding. Ambrose was astonished to discover that not only had I heard of the place, but I knew where it was. I’m hoping he doesn’t ever discover that, say, Gregory Corso used to go to football games. I don’t want to see his jaw drop and that maniacal glint come into his eyes when I tell him that, yes, in fact, I did know that Oakland has a Coliseum.

Anyway, we never did get to the track. Ambrose had showed up at a time when I was particularly busy at work, and between that and fatherhood, there wasn’t a lot of time left over for jaunts to the races. The idea had a certain seedy appeal to me, but the time just wasn’t there. When he took off to points south, we made tentative plans for an outing on his return trip. Unfortunately, he ran late getting back, showing up the day before we were leaving for Santa Barbara. Apparently it was not meant to be.

I made the mistake of mentioning this to my dad, and now every time we talk he asks if I’ve gotten to the track yet. I don’t have the heart to say that although I’m a keen gambler, I really don’t much care for wagers that force you to look at the Sports section (or, as I like to call it, “the recycle section”). Still, his enthusiasm was infectious. He was eager for me to try out his system, which involved – if I have it right – spreading money on quinellas and maybe trifectas where there’s a not-too-crowded field with a heavy favourite to win. Say there are six horses running – you place five quinella bets with the favourite to win and each of the other horses to show. Assuming the favourite comes through, at least one of these bets wins, and if the second-place horse has long enough odds, you make a profit. I’m a complete racetrack ignoramus, but it sounded like a halfway workable system to me. He’d been playing mostly little two-dollar bets, but had built up a kitty of five hundred dollars when a series of long shots came through for him.

That was in the high-flying days around Ho Ho time. When I talked to him this morning, he admitted he’d had a few reversals since then and his kitty had dwindled away to nothing. My mom holds the purse strings in the house – probably a good thing – and my dad has always had to seek alternative means of capitalisation whenever he wants to buy a lottery ticket or put two dollars down on Turkey Lou Pickle to show. Now he’s hoarding pop bottles for the redemption value, so he’ll have a stake when the new season starts in the summer. I guess that’s all I really need to know about the system.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Books by Their Covers

Here’s one of the many reasons I prefer hardcovers: if you take the simple precaution of removing the dust jacket, people on public transit (or elsewhere) don’t notice what you’re reading and don’t feel compelled to share their thoughts on the subject. If you read a trade paperback, though, it’s right out there in front of God and everybody. If you’re reading a bestseller, there’s no way to hide it. If it’s a cultural phenomenon, you’re screwed. Five or six years back, I was reading Cold Mountain in tpb, and it turned the morning commute into a dispiritingly benign torture. My cherished routine of ignoring the world with my face buried in a book was upset at least once a day by strangers too cheerful to recognise a harmless but pathological misanthrope. Everybody recognised the book. Everyone had just read it. Everyone wanted to talk about how it moved them. “Oh, isn’t it a wonderful book?” some happy florid dingbat inquired. “Gosh, I don’t know,” I wished I was rude enough to say, “maybe if you’d leave me the fuck alone I’d have a chance to find out.”

Today on the morning commute, I finished a book, a hardcover that I’d been nursing in beatific anonymity for a couple of weeks. I had anticipated finishing it in the morning, so I’d brought a second book along for the afternoon commute. I was looking forward to my return trip with a tingle of dread because the book was a trade paperback. It wasn’t a recent bestseller, but it was one that was at least vaguely familiar to any halfway educated person. If they didn’t actually know the story, they’d at least know the general area of its notoriety. I expected at least one wizened English major to interrupt my reading with a banal observation or an unsolicited opinion. I was almost disappointed when it didn’t happen.

Maybe today everybody was as wrapped up in their own little spaces as I usually am in mine. Maybe I was hiding the cover of the book better than I usually do. Or maybe it’s just the sort of book that people don’t want to admit to an excess of familiarity with in public these days. Mama Dog and I thought I’d get the best reactions reading it while holding hands with a twelve-year-old girl. So maybe when Baby Dog is twelve, I’ll dig it out and read it again on BART with her.

Oh yeah. This book.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Difficulty I Had with Food at My Second First Wedding

Recent conversations with a couple of friends soon to marry (not each other) reminded me of this one…

My first wedding took place at the Alameda County Courthouse. This was with the Less Marvellous Spouse. We were going to just bring along two friends to witness and be in and out in fifteen minutes. Then the LMS made the tactical error of mentioning it to her mother. Next thing we knew, the wedding party included her parents, her brother, an uncle, a cousin, and suddenly it was this big thing. Geeze, we were just getting married. What’s the big deal?

To mollify the LMS’ mom, we had a second ceremony about five months later at their SoCal residence. The LMS’ parents invited what appeared to be everyone they had ever met in their entire lives. As uncomfortable as I am around people I know slightly, you can imagine how thrilled I was to be the centre of attention for hundreds of complete strangers.

I was at this time an even pickier eater than I am now. A childishly picky eater, I’ll admit. I liked peanut butter and I liked bologna. That was pretty much it. The LMS’ mother had been a cooking whirligig all weekend, and had commandeered the fridges of neighbours when her ran out of room. In all these fully crammed refrigerators there was to be found not a single morsel palatable to me. It was no big deal to me, though; I was used to being surrounded by food I didn’t want to eat. I said I’d be fine, I’d just order a pizza. Don’t worry none about me.

So, we had the wedding thing, even though we were already married. A lot of the people there didn’t seem hip to that fact, so we gave them their little spectacle. We stood in the back yard surrounded by a circle of friends and a crowd of strangers, and exchanged vows that later turned out to be surprisingly temporary, but hey, it sounded good at the time! After the ceremony, I was standing at the far end of the yard being introduced to some friend of the parents whom I would never meet again when somebody called from the house to tell me that the pizza was there. I started toward the house, but had to stop to meet somebody. I started off again, and suffered another introduction. It was that way all the way to the house, stopping every few feet, shaking hands like a City Council candidate. When I finally made it to the kitchen I was greeted by an empty pizza box with a few crumbs in it. my supper was gone.

Undaunted, I called for another pizza. I had friends there from out of town – paul, you might remember this, you were there. I chatted with them. Somehow I ended up in the back yard again. Somehow, I was again at the far end of the yard when the pizza arrived. Somehow, I was forbidden to stride unimpeded toward the siren call of the pizza. Somehow, the pizza had again been entirely consumed by the time I reached it.

“Hell with this,” thought I. This time I’ll pick up the pizza. I called and ordered a pizza for pickup. Somebody gave me a ride out to the pizza place – don’t remember who. I got my damn pizza. I ate my fill in the car on the way back. As we returned to the house, me stuffed with cheese and pepperoni, I had regained my jollity. I could be fooled once, sure; twice, I guess; but nobody was getting me a third time.

A moment later I noticed that the wedding cake had been eaten in my absence.

Strangely, none of this at the time seemed an ill omen for the marriage to come.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Has it occurred to anybody else what a wealth of period detail will be yielded to future historians in this mess of dross we call the blogosphere? Everyone who indulges in favershamery, from the most erudite political commentator to the twitteriest teenaged emoticonographer is building a diary of our times far beyond the most fevered imaginings of Samuel Pepys. Are there Blog Studies courses in colleges yet? Is anybody archiving this stuff? It looks like useless ephemera now, but mark my words, a hundred years from now cultural historians will be glad we had so much time on our hands. Blogs will prove an historical bonanza.

Speaking of which – not that this will add anything to any important demographic studies – here’s a little ditty I wrote some years ago, and since I’m in a hurry to post and get out of here (here being work), I’ll share it with you for posterity. Sing to the tune of “Bonanza.”

I know there aren’t any words to the theme of Bonanza
I’m well aware that there aren’t any words to Bonanza’s theme at all
I asked Pa, I asked Hoss, I asked Little Joe
They said there aren’t any words to the theme of Bonanza
They said there aren’t any words—to Bonanza’s theme at all

(Actually, there are words to the theme of Bonanza. I even have a recording of Johnny Cash singing them. But I think it’s a given that those future historians are going to have to sift through a certain amount of disinformation.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Man on the Tracks

I was standing on the BART platform this morning, waiting for a train. I must have just missed one by a small margin, because the sign said the next one wasn’t for another seven minutes. Rather than staring at freeway traffic for seven minutes, I opened up my book and read.

There are mysteries to BART known to the regular commuter but hidden to the irregular/weekend user. Stand right/walk left on the escalators, for example. Always increase your ticket on the way out, not the way in, for example (that way you’re not standing at the fare machine when your train’s coming). It’s not only possible but advisable to form a line where the train door’s going to open, for example. Two lines during commute hours. If it’s not your train, you step to the outside of the doors to allow passengers to enter and exit. It could all move so smoothly if everybody knew these things.

Anyway, I was at the front of my line for this particular door stop. In fact, I was the only one in line. This means there was nothing between me and the track but the yellow rubber warning strip. Mama Dog has edge-of-the-track anxiety; I tend not to, but I hate it when anyone’s moving around behind me when I’m at the front of the line. As I read, I became aware of that very thing. There was someone walking behind me. My customary paranoid reaction when I catch a glimpse of someone passing at the extreme limits of my peripheral vision is to plant one foot firmly in front to make myself more difficult to knock over. I did that, and glanced back. The guy was passing, heading to the very end of the track. It didn’t look like he was going to join an orderly line, but it didn’t look like he was going to push anybody off the track either. I went back to my book and forgot about him.

After a few more minutes, I saw out of the corner of my other eye the sign flashing to announce the arrival of the San Francisco train. I put my book away and looked down the track. The train was a few hundred yards east, stopped, waiting. I started to imagine a disabled train limping up and disgorging all passengers to await its five-car replacement. Or perhaps a train that would bravely soldier on through downtown Oakland only to stop dead in the middle of the Transbay tube for twenty minutes. One never knows.

After a couple of minutes, the train started up again and slowly approached. I became belatedly aware of a contingent of BART personnel standing at the end of the platform. There was a BART cop, a station agent, and another person out of uniform. The cop was talking on a walkie talkie. The train started to slow again as it approached the platform, and stopped at the very end. The driver poked his head out to speak with the BART cop. He pointed down the track and described a man who was apparently out there, walking between the tracks, headed east. I looked around and realised the man he was describing was the one who had passed behind me and given me my paranoid moment. He had apparently continued on to the end of the platform, out the “DANGER – AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY” gate, down the steps to the ground, and was on his way to the tunnel to Orinda.

Papa Pirate told me once that nine times out ten when you see a BART train standing still for no apparent reason, it’s because some idiot is walking along the tracks. This was the first time I’d ever seen confirmation of that principle.

When the train finally pulled up to the platform, it missed alignment with the door stops by several feet. We were all regular commuters. We stepped as a line to the left to compensate.

In other stuff – Unforgivable Blackness, Ken Burns’ new documentary about the life and persecution of Jack Johnson, started on PBS last night. I missed Part 1 , but it’s repeating on KQED in the wee hours tonight (or tomorrow morning, if you look at it that way), and I imagine most PBS affiliates are doing the same. This is a story about America that all Americans should know and surprisingly few do. Don’t leave it to some Canadian to tell you about it. Watch the documentary.

Monday, January 17, 2005

It's MLK Day, Which is a Holiday, So Don't Give Me a Hard Time About the Dinky Post

Baby Dog started to act up at the doctor’s office, but she fell asleep in the car on the way back, and I managed to get her out of the car seat and into the crib without waking her. This was no mean feat, because Doggy Dog was just then starting to go berserk in anticipation of evening walkies. He started to bark and I had to drag him into the kitchen and put him in a headlock until Mama Dog was ready to put the leash on. She managed to get him out without the baby waking. Minor miracles. They get you through the week.

So – as mentioned, I finished my story. If there’s anybody who hasn’t already seen it and wants to, send me an e-mail.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A Couple of Days that Were Busier than they Probably Sound

It’s already hard to believe how much we’ve packed into this weekend, and I’ve still got a day to go. I spent most of yesterday afternoon writing, finishing an outline and banging out the first 2,000 words of my story. When Mama Dog had to run out for errands, Baby Dog was still snoozing, so I was able to get a bunch done. When the wee one woke, I gave her a test spin on the Exersaucer, and she gave it two very enthusiastic thumbs up – way up! Mama Dog points out that this is the first play environment she’s had which involves and upright rather than recumbent position. This, I suppose, is the first step of learning to walk. Already, she’s figured out how to swivel herself around in the saucer. Rachelle, it’s not really that hard to assemble. The hardest parts are the ones involving springs. The yellow pieces with the little springs in them fit on in a weird way that’s not immediately intuitive. The green pieces with the big springs really require an extra set of hands to put together.

At five, I sprang into domestic action, putting away dishes, clearing off surfaces, and digging the fondue gear out of the back closet. I got Mama Dog the fondue set for a birthday or something a year or two back, and this is only the second time we’ve used it. Mama Dog says fondue is really easy to make, but somehow just wrestling all the bits of equipment out of their hideaways seems like a big task. J & M brought some Swiss wine for use in the fondue recipe, and Mama Dog added squash and salad on the side. It was quite a repast.

Baby Dog was in a grumpy way when J & M showed up. “This is the down side,” I said, carting her about and trying to bring out some of the jolliness for which she’s rightly known. Mama Dog was hurriedly whipping up some rice cereal to accomplish that very task, and J & M were astonished by the rapid transformation once she started eating. By the time her tummy was full, Baby Dog was restored to charm machine status. She played happily with toys on her highchair tray while we dug into the fondue. When the big people were all stuffed with bread and cheese and apples and squash and vegetation, Mama Dog discreetly withdrew to give Baby Dog her bedtime meal, then settled her down in the crib. I followed up with a brief shushing, but it didn’t take much. She was quite ready to fall asleep. We whiled away the rest of the evening talking about writing and movies and books and work and ex-spouses and family, gradually killing off a bottle of Pinot Grigio and then starting in on the leftover Swiss wine.

When they left, I looked around and saw that the kitchen was a wreck of cheese-filmed pots. I promised to take care of it in the morning. Mama Dog was too tired to disagree, even were she so inclined (which she wasn’t). She went to bed and I stayed up for another hour or so working on the story. When I was ready for bed, I opened Baby Dog’s door to give her the benefit of the heat from the living room. She didn’t stir, so I tiptoed back to our room. Just as I was about to get into bed, she broke out crying. I checked her diaper, which was wet. She was really just crying in her sleep, but by the time I was done changing her, she was awake and hollering for food. Poor Mama Dog had to crawl back out of bed to feed her daughter. I stayed up reading until she was done. It was after one by the time we again turned out the light.

Mama Dog fed Baby again around 7:30 or so, then tried to coax her back to sleep lying between us. Instead, Baby Dog chose that moment to discover the tattoo on my left arm and busied herself trying to remove it with her fingers. Doggy Dog took this to mean we were all awake and ready to get up, and started whining to be let out. It was around eight, so I decided what the hell. I let the dog out, changed the baby, and told Mama Dog to put her eye cover on and her ear plugs in and get some sleep, which she did. Baby Dog was again happy in the Exersaucer while I got the kitchen cleaned up from the night before. That took a while.

When Mama Dog got up, we breakfasted and I took Doggy Dog out for his morning walk, and then sat down to get some more writing done. Mama and Baby set out on a shopping expedition to SF – Baby’s first time on BART – and I cranked steadily. When they got back to Rockridge around one o’clock, I took a break and Doggy Dog and I walked out to meet them halfway. We had a pleasant family walk home.

After lunch, the handyguy showed up to supposedly finish the work he didn’t finish on Friday. This is a large can of worms, and Mama Dog will no doubt discuss it in her own faversham. Suffice to say that I fed the baby twice while work was going on around us, that it’s hard for her to nap when somebody’s banging nails, and that everything still isn’t fucking done.

Except the story, that is. I was down to the last paragraphs when I had to move away from the computer area to let some shelves fail to get installed. I took the dog out for walk #3. Lucky dog today. Strangely, I feel more like going out for walks when I’m writing. It’s a nice little interval in which to figure out the next part coming up. Doggy Dog probably wishes I wrote more. When the handyguy was done not completing the installation, I sat back down and sprinted to the finish.

Supper was had. Baby Dog is down to sleep now, and Mama Dog is reading my story. I’m completely wiped. Think I’ll watch my stories now.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

More Assembly Required

It’s looking to be a very busy weekend. My honky company doesn’t recognise MLK day as a holiday, but we have a family doctor’s appointment on Monday, so I’m taking it as a sick day. We’re having guests over for dinner tonight, the handyguy’s supposed to come over Sunday to finish the work he didn’t get done Friday, there’s the usual crush of domestic chores and erranding, and I’m supposed to finish a short story by Monday night. So, lots to do.

Among the items on my to-do list was assembling Baby Dog’s new Exersaucer, which arrived courtesy of the United Parcel Service a couple of days back. A daddy’s assembling is never done. I had wanted to spring right into writing action this morning, but Mama Dog suggested that if I assembled the Exersaucer first, I could stick Baby Dog in it when I’m trying to write. It made good sense at the time, but after an hour of crouching over piles of moulded plastic attaching spring B to hook C and inserting pedestal F on saucer base A, my back’s shot and the baby has fallen asleep anyway.

Well, not a moment to waste. She can try out the saucer when she wakes up. I have now officially warmed up by favershamming, and now I’m off to do the heavy lifting (writing-wise).

Friday, January 14, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies, and the Stuff the Cheney White House Comes Up With

Mama Dog read last night’s post, turned around, and said, “It’s hard to check out a woman’s rack when she’s wearing a Bjorn.” There you have it. I was once able to fudge enough details to surprise her with a surprise birthday party she’d asked for, but the minute baby accessories enter the story, she’s Columbo. Or maybe Encyclopedia Brown would be more relevant to this instance. Anyway, into whichever cunning detective she had suddenly morphed, she had caught me in what was once referred to by no less an authority on the art of dissembling than Daffy Duck as “an inmitigated frabrication.” That is, I bent the truth a wee tad for the sake of the story.

So, to come clean: there was a hitherto unmentioned father accompanying the attractive young mother, and he was the one wearing the Bjorn. I struck him out as an inessential detail and a bit of wind resistance in an otherwise streamlined narrative. Moreover, I don’t actually remember what the mother looked like – whether she really was a young mother or whether she really was attractive or even – brace yourselves – anything at all about her rack. I made her young and attractive and rackeriffic for the sake of irony. Oh, the shame. If this were a reputable media outlet I’d probably have to resign now. Lucky for us all it’s just a dumb blog.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Baby Mode

I’ll tell you one thing becoming a parent does for you, it makes you notice other children. A month or two back, Bernardo and I were having lunch at the yuppie food court near my office. An attractive young mother passed by with a brand-new infant in a Bjorn. In an earlier incarnation, I would have been checking out the attractive young mother’s rack – because, let’s face it, lactating women have them some racks – but, oh no. I was checking out her child. I was thinking, “Awwwww.” I was thinking, “I remember when Baby Dog was that small.” I was thinking, “I wish I had my baby here with me now.” Bernardo stared at me, staring. “You’ve gone into baby mode, haven’t you?” he asked. “Can’t be helped,” I mumbled.

Always has it been thus. When I got my first tattoo, suddenly I saw tattooed people everywhere. When we got Doggy Dog, I was suddenly aware that we live in the dog capital of the western world. I was going along just fine not paying much attention at all to the rest of the human race. Then one day some dude I barely knew ripped open my wife and pulled out a child, and now everywhere I look the streets are lousy with kinder. They babble, coo, screech, sigh, wail, and make fart sounds. They are tiny and frail, fat and robust, shy, bold, curious, cranky, happy, focused, scattered, striving, inert, quiet, rowdy, clumsy, and mostly sleeping or eating. They grow and develop. They will replace us. We must make them well.

So anyway…I’ve got another little writing project going on over the next few days. Between that, paterfamilias duty, work, freelance work, and watching my stories, there’s not a lot of time left in the clock. I rather expect the old faversham to get short-changed for the next little while. I’ll still post ever day, but don’t be expecting any epics for a bit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


It’s not really that big a trick to make a baby laugh, but Baby Dog so far is kind of a discriminating audience. She’ll smile readily, and she’ll squawk in a way that might be delight or might be distress (it’s sometimes kind of hard to tell); but the actual laughs are relatively few and far between. Her laugh is thoroughly charming, I think. It’s not an unrestrained senseless giggle. There’s something sly about it, something – dare I say? – hip. She sounds like she’s laughing at something so dumb it’s funny. “I can’t believe you find it amusing to make fart noises at me, Father,” she seems to be saying, “but your faith that it will make me laugh paints quite a comic portrait of your frail human aspirations.” The way that comes out of her mouth is something like, “A-hah.” Or, when I am giving her particularly great ironic enjoyment, “A-hah-hah-hah.” Sometimes, there’s a questioning note to it. “A-hah?” Like, “Am I supposed to find that funny? Okay, I’ll take your word for it.”

Last night at dinner, we were for some reason serving up comic gold. Sometime back – I can’t place when – one or the other of us started saying “booga booga booga” to Baby Dog in an effort to amuse her. I don’t think she got the joke at first, but we kept repeating it, and now she seems to find it risible. I think it’s kind of like that David Letterman technique of repeating some meaningless phrase over and over again until it becomes funny. Letterman used to be able to do that with just a few repetitions. For us, “booga” has taken some months getting there. So last night, Baby Dog was being cranky at dinnertime (ours, not hers). Mama Dog said “booga booga” and Baby Dog laughed. I made “tok tok tok” noises with my tongue on the roof of my mouth and Baby Dog laughed at that too. I popped a finger in my cheek and she laughed. Then I decided to get into the “booga booga” action. I looked at her sideways and, in a normal tone of voice, I said “boogah.” To my surprise, she laughed. I looked directly at her and said, a little louder, “Boogah!” and was rewarded with an “A-hah-hah!” Then I took a deep breath, got my voice as deep and resonant as it goes – and I have a pretty deep and resonant voice to begin with – and, trying to sound like Buster Poindexter if not Louis Armstrong, gave her a great huge “mmmmmmmmm….BOOGAH!” That got me three “A-hah-hah-hahs” linked together, which is Baby Dog’s equivalent of a standing o. Instead of taking a bow, I did encores, three more mmmmmmmmm….BOOGAHs, with steadily increasing responses. Then, changing things up, I whispered “boogah,”

and Baby Dog still laughed largely. For her.

Boogahs and laughter continued all the way to bedtime. She lay down in her crib grinning exultantly and eager for more. It was sad to put her to bed when she was having fun, but it was well past her bedtime and she needed her sleep.

I swear. I’m looking forward to teaching her knock-knock jokes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Meet Cute


This one’s kind of long, and I’m sure there are those in my little constituency who might be put off by what appears to be a catalogue of pathetic shallow/callow skirt-chasing episodes. Please stick with it, though. It does come to a point eventually.


In the uncertain interval between the several ends of my crappy first marriage and the beginning of the promised land that is my last marriage, I wandered the earth like Caine in Kung Fu, only spending more time looking for what the world had to offer me than for what I could offer it. One of the things I did in that time was to collect memorable stories of how I met women. I was hopeful that these would be the amusing and saucy tales we could tell our grandchildren, or, failing that, the crucial “meet cute” moment when I later adapted my misadventures as a romantic comedy. Instead, ten years later, all they are is blog fodder. So here are a few, in what turns out to be not only chronological order but also roughly increasing level of cuteness and decreasing level of sexual and/or romantic payoff. All of them took place in New Orleans between 1993 and 1996.

1. L___

I met L___ shooting pool at Checkpoint Charlie’s. I liked Checkpoint Charlie’s – people called it Checkpoint’s for short, but I still can’t bring myself to muddle the possessive that way. The pool tables were far enough away from the stage that you could still have a somewhat intelligible conversation while some lousy band was playing. Also, you could shoot pool while doing your laundry. I never did that at Checkpoint Charlie’s, though I did it quite frequently at Igor’s, its sister bar, when I lived in that neighbourhood. Put clothes on to dry. Get drink. Shoot pool. Forget clothes. Find them all wrinkly a couple hours later. Put in another quarter to tumble out the wrinkliness. Get another drink. Repeat as necessary. Anyway, L___ was shooting pool with V_______, V_______ lost, and I was up next to play the winner. I’d been mesmerized watching them because they were hot young things and I was drunk, unhappy, and nearing thirty alone. I was impressed with L___’s play. She could really shoot, unlike V_______, who mostly posed. The liquor had loosened my truss of self-consciousness to the point where I could actually speak to a strange woman, and we carried on a harmlessly flirty conversation while we played. Then she made a flawlessly executed reverse bank, and it just sort of jumped out like a sneeze: “Marry me,” I said. She laughed. “Why?” “Because,” I said, groping for the “because,” “it’s always been an ambition of mine to marry a woman who looks like you and shoots pool like you.” Awful stuff, yes, and utterly transparent, but L___ was 19 – more sexually experienced than me at 29 with a marriage behind me, but still only 19. Where a 19-year-old girl is concerned, you can never go wrong with hyperbolic flattery. Nothing came of it, of course. That night is notable today mostly because I also met Avenuu, who became and remains one of my nearest and dearest friends, though we hardly ever talk now, and I hope she reads this faversham and knows I still think of her. But L___ and I became drinking buddies, and eventually I was the handy crying shoulder, and then one night we had sex, and whodathunkit, it really did ruin everything. Guess there’s something in that old trope after all.

2. J___

I met J___ while I was doing a break-and-enter with the intent to leave some money behind.

Pretty catchy, huh?

I owed a recent ex-roommate ten dollars. It was Friday night, I’d just been paid, and I had the usual night of serious drinking in the Quarter, but I very carefully set aside the ten dollars for the ex-roommate and enough for a cab ride back uptown. The ex-roommate worked the graveyard shift at Marquette House, the youth hostel which had been my first Orleanian home, and the best way to catch him was generally at work. Unfortunately, when I showed up at the hostel at three in the morning, the front door was locked and he was nowhere to be found. I rang several times and got no answer. I knew that if I left with the ten dollars in my pocket, I’d surely spend it before I saw my friend again, and I was determined not to let that happen. I was familiar enough with the hostel to know it wasn’t exactly Fort Knox. There was a gate round the corner that let onto the rear courtyard, and from there I could get into any part of the building. All I had to do was get past the gate. I tottered around the corner and looked. It was padlocked, and tall. I wasn’t very confident about being able to hop it in the condition I was in. Then I spotted a ladder up against the wall of the main building. What could be easier? I dragged the ladder over to the fence, propped it up, and climbed to the top. From there, it was just a matter of launching myself over the fence and dropping to the courtyard below. I did; I was wearing a long coat which billowed behind me as I leapt (but did not, thank god, snag on the top of the fence). I made an improbably perfect three-point landing, feeling like Spider-Man. Then I stood up and saw J___ on the balcony above me, smoking, and coolly watching the bizarre show I had been putting on. “Would you like a cigarette?” she asked. I didn’t smoke, so I said, “Yes!” and hurried up the stairs to join her. I babbled at her not to worry, that I was breaking into the place only for the cause of good, not evil. She listened, amused, and gave me the cigarette, which I then felt obliged to smoke. She was English, a little older than me, pretty and sophisticated. She worked for the BBC and was on leave, traveling the world. I told her the reason for my break-in, and enlisted her aid. I left the money at the desk with a note, then J___ helped me move the ladder back where I found it. She had just come in too from a night on the town, and somehow I persuaded her that the best way for us both to cap off the evening was to go over to Igor’s for another one. Either she was adventurous or I was clearly harmless or both (probably both), because we ended up back at my dank little cave, where she let me get just a tad past second base but very sternly no farther. We saw each other a few more times through the duration of her stay, but I was clearly too desperate a puppydog, and she undertook to ditch me. She later sent some letters as she went around the world and a particularly nice postcard from Bora Bora. I called her once in England when I was drunk and lonely. Then she ditched me for good, which is understandable but kind of a shame. She was a really interesting person and if I hadn’t been so focused on macking on her, I might have made a long-term friend. I wonder what she’s up to now.

3. M_____

I had my eye on M_____ for weeks before I finally met her. I’d see her on the Magazine Street bus on my way to work, tall and posed, serious-looking but with tellingly kooky accessories. I was pretty sure she worked at the hospital too. Then I started spotting her in the Quarter and became all the more intrigued. Most everybody else at the hospital dwelt in the ‘burbs and viewed me indulgently as the office freak (except C_______, of course, but that’s a different topic). It would be quite something to have an ally of sorts, a kindred spirit moving in the same bipolar circles. The problem was I was rarely drunk on my way to work and so could conceive of no way to speak to her in that setting. Then one day I got caught in the rain. There had been rain in the forecast, but for some reason I’d gone to work without my umbrella. Does that sound familiar? I guess I have kind of a history with this. Anyway, I was squatting against a wall at Magazine and Henry Clay, hunched in on myself and trying to will the downpour to stop, looking like the cat at the end of a Pepe le Pew cartoon, when M_____ walked over and said, “Do you want to share my umbrella?” I looked up with pathetic gratitude and, seeing who it was, eagerly exclaimed “Yes.” Had she offered me a cigarette I would have smoked that too. We huddled together under her brolly waiting for the bus and I tried in my limited way to carpe the diem. We learned each other’s names – she’d noticed me, too, how splendid! – and where we worked and what we did. It turned out her desk was roughly fifty paces from my own. Who knew? We also learned we had common acquaintances in the Quarter and so on and so forth. We sat together on the bus and talked all the way to her stop. I couldn’t figure out a way to invite myself home with her, so I went to my dank little cave alone.

Over the weeks that followed, we got to know each other better, having lunch together at work, running into each other in the Quarter now and then, having the odd drink or coffee. I was soon panicked to realise that I was stuck in a mode of studied formality and couldn’t see any way out of it. M_____ was surely waiting for me to make some sort of move – she kept coming back for more – but I somehow couldn’t see what was so plainly expected of me. I kept behaving as though eye contact might frighten her off. Finally one day she said to me, with a note of finality, “I had a boyfriend like you. You’re the kind of guy who makes things too complicated.” I was baffled by that at the time, though her meaning is obvious in retrospect. I was making too big a deal out of the simplest transaction. I could have just kissed her on a dozen occasions, but always had to second-guess the moment. I still think she was only half right, though. I build the thing up beforehand, but if I can get just a little nudge to start me, all is splendid simplicity thereafter.

4. X

I don’t even remember this girl’s name, but we had what would have been a perfect “how we met” story if there’d been anything to it other than the meeting. On Hallowe’en of 1994, I had just quit my job at the fuck motel (I really have to post about that place one day) and celebrated my freedom from being professionally obligated to speak with morons (i.e., the paying public) by taking a 24-hour vow of silence. I was tired of the consequences of things I’d said, and thought it would be at the very least interesting to see if I could go a day without saying a word. What better day than Hallowe’en? It struck me that I could even use this as an excuse not to wear a costume to any of the revels. I would go as a mute.

I decided I should get out of the house as early as possible so as not to freak out little trick-or-treaters by opening the door and staring at them without talking. I called a cab and when it arrived, I said what I planned to be my last words of the night: “Canal and Carondelet.” There was a party at David J’s place. I arrived with a steno pad on which I had written several phrases I thought might be handy throughout the night. One was “Excuse me for not talking to you. I am a mute for Hallowe’en.” The next page said, “Hello (your name here), you’re looking lovely as usual tonight.”

One of the people I ran into that night was Ken F, who was visiting from New York. He had left New Orleans for graduate studies at Columbia some months before, and I hadn’t seen him in yonks. It perversely amused me to greet a long-unseen friend with complete silence. As it turned out, we talked though I didn’t speak. We had a long conversation, started off at David’s and continued through several bars – I distinctly remember spending part of the time at the R Bar, and naturally enough ended up at Molly’s. Through the entire crawl, we had a long conversation – we later agreed it was the best we’d ever had with one another – through the medium of my steno pad. Ken would say something, then wait patiently while I wrote my reply down on the pad. I have no idea what we talked about, but I still have that steno pad somewhere in my crap in the basement, so at least my half of the conversation survives. I’ll have to dig it up someday (at the risk of crushing disappointment).

When I had finally hit the beverage wall I wrote Ken goodbye and stumbled out front to catch a cab. It was only a moment before one pulled up, and as I started forward, a woman I hadn’t notice stepped forward too. There was that awkward pause – who was there first? Neither of us knew. She had a beehive. She was the Bride of Frankenstein. I thought she looked smashing. She said, “Are you headed uptown?” Oh, here now. I was stuck. A vow is a vow is a vow. I could not speak. I nodded. She said, “Do you want to split the cab?” I nodded again. We got in. Okay, practical logistics. I had had some notion of passing the cabbie a page from the steno pad with my address on it, but that seemed too freaky with a witness. Stymied, I gave myself special dispensation to say my intersection and no more. “Freret and Joseph,” I said. Beehive girl gave an address further uptown. She looked at me. “What did you do tonight?” she asked. “Shit,” thought I, “I’m done for now.” I really didn’t see any alternative. I said, “I took a vow of silence and these are the first words I’ve spoken all night.” Here’s how simple I am; it didn’t even occur to me what a great line that was. “You’re so hot I’m already breaking vows for you,” is what she heard. It worked like those gangbusters you’re always hearing about. She was purring at me all the way to my place. I don’t remember the specifics of that conversation very well, either. I know we talked about movies. When the cab got to my destination, we had another one of those awkward pauses; we both had twenties and weren’t sure how to split the fare. “Forget about it,” she said, “I’ll pay.” “Okay,” I said, “but you have to let me take you to the movies to pay you back.” Look at me, Smoove B. I got her number and went back to my house wondering what in the hell I’d do about it once I sobered up.

Ambrose would say I should have just taken her back to my place or gone on with her to hers. Ambrose would be correct.

When I called her in the cold light of day, it was clear that sparks weren’t flying sober over the telephone the way they were drunk in the back of a cab, but we soldiered on and made the date anyway. I got the impression she was doing it just to keep her word. Well, I’ll settle for that. We met at Candace on Conti (which doesn’t exist anymore), and had banal conversation for a while. She still looked smashing. I looked like a guy who hadn’t been taught how to dress. Worse, I looked like a guy who was better off sticking with the vow of silence. I’d been Joe Blarney throughout that cab ride. Now I couldn’t think of a thing to say to her. Mercifully, it was a movie date, so not much talking was required.

Could it get worse? It got worse. The movie was Francis Ford Coppola’s Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.* I’d thought it would be appropriate, what with her beehive of the other night. Unfortunately, it was also an overlong tedious slog of self-important puffery. I don’t even remember how we said goodbye, but I never saw her again. It did not in fact become a tale to tell the grandkids.


A few years later I was in Oakland, and completely out of steam. I had had enough of trying to overcome my dating handicaps, and decided that I was just going to abstain from the human race for a while. I was at a barbecue one day and got talking with someone about my dismal life and how I was pretty sure things were all over for me. I had been married, yeah, but I figured it was a fluke. I figured it was pretty much impossible for me to ever have another relationship with a woman. I had nothing like the social life I had in New Orleans. I rarely left the house, and if I did leave the house, my inability to overcome self-consciousness while sober prevented me from ever even presenting myself for consideration. It would take a very forward and very interested woman to get past my natural roadblocks, and it didn't seem likely to me that that would happen twice in my life. You probably see the punchline coming; the someone I was talking with was Mama Dog, and that was really kind of the beginning of everything. “It’s all over for you, huh?” she thought. “I find that strangely intriguing.” And there you have the story we can tell our grandkids.
*Not to be confused with Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though I don’t really know why not.

Belled Her on the Mobby

It occurred to me that I should include an explanation for the titular phrase, which appeared in my last post. Those of you unfamiliar with British slang probably found it opaque and those familiar with British slang probably thought I misspelled it

“Belled” in this context means “made use of a telephonic device” - i.e., caused the bell to ring. “Mobby” is a diminutive for “mobile,” as in “mobile phone,” or what we would call on this side of the pond a “cellular telephone” or, colloquially, a “cell phone.” So “belled her on the mobby” = “called her on my cell.”

Most instances of usage I’ve been able to find on the net spell it “moby” rather than “mobby.” I picked the phrase up from an Irvine Welsh book, and that’s how he spells it. Admittedly, “moby,” with its long o makes more sense as a diminutive of “mobile” than “mobby” with its implied short o, but I stay stubbornly true to my initial source.

My raincoat was still wet this morning, by the way.

(And be advised this is not the official post of the day, just an addendum to yesterday’s – I’ll be back with something else in late afternoon or evening Pacific time.)

Monday, January 10, 2005

Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come Again in San Jose

Dumbass me, I glanced hurriedly at the paper this morning, somehow interpreted the “chance of thunderstorms” icon as “possible light showers,” and decided I didn’t need my raincoat. This was all in the brief moments before heading out the door, and in my addled departure state, I somehow conceived the opinion that the light showers would occur entirely during the time I was inside a nice, dry office building. I had absolutely no basis for this opinion, but it quickly became a conviction, and I didn’t give it a second thought all day.

Mama Dog called just before I was going to leave work and told me that it was raining like a sonofabitch. “Oh,” I said. “I wonder if I have an umbrella stashed here somewhere.” I used to. One in the filing cabinet. One under the archive disks. One over in the backup operator’s area. Then, for reasons I can’t now fathom, I did the same thing again; I formed the conviction that there was no umbrella without even looking. There probably isn’t one – they kept either breaking or finding their way home with me – but I didn’t take even a moment to look. Worse, I contrived a leap of faith that the rain would let up by the time I exited the Rockridge BART station. What am I, the Bush administration? Where was I getting this intel?

So the walk from the office to Embarcadero BART wasn’t so bad. It was really just an enthusiastic sprinkle. I was wet but not drenched, and any discomfort I experienced in the train ride was due not to my damp pelt but to the body odour of the hairy-eyeballed crossword-worrying commuter hag standing next to me.

When the doors opened at Rockridge I finally realised that I was in trouble. I was at the very end of the platform and it was coming down like nobody’s bidness. I ducked my head down, pulled my collar up, and hurried along the six car lengths to the shelter over the escalator. I belled Mama Dog on the mobby and said, “I’m screwn.” Obviously she couldn’t come pick me up – she was feeding the baby – but I had a glimmer of hope concerning a ride in a taxicab if only she had some cash on her, because I didn’t. I glanced this way and that out the windows of the pedestrian bridge and saw cabs on neither side of College, so the point was moot. “Huh,” I said. “I guess I’ll just get soaked.”

At least I was able to walk under the shelter of the freeway for the length of the parking lot, dodging the curtain of runoff every couple of car rows where the slabs meet above. When I peeped out at Miles and Forrest, it was still coming down, and there wasn’t a whit of shelter the rest of the way home. By the time I staggered up out front steps, I was thoroughly bedraggled.

I greeted my little family and towelled my head off, then heaved a sigh before heading back out into it. Doggy Dog needed his walk. At least this time I was able to put my raincoat on. Ironically – I thought – the rain chose that moment to let up. I had been intending to do an abbreviated-on-account of rain walk, but figured our boy deserved better if there was a window of opportunity. I walked him as far as Colby and 61st, where he obligingly took a dump in the sopping grassy strip. I scooped up the prize and we headed home, middling damp and light of heart.

Until we were two blocks from home, that is. That’s when the monsoon opted to commence. This was worse than the sum total of all the rain that had come before. Our exposure was all of two minutes, but by the time we were back inside, my jeans were plastered to my legs, my cowboy boots – not the perforated Seibels, mind – were soaked through, and there was water sloshing around inside my pockets. I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen before.

Mama Dog was standing by to towel Doggy. My bathrobe was standing by to replace my saturated accoutrements, dinner was standing by to be consumed, and Baby Dog was sitting by for her second big “Daddy’s home!” greeting of the night. I’ve showered three times today, I have a home to come back to, and if I have a complaint in the world it doesn’t now spring to mind.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A Day of Inconspicuous Consumption and Other Weekendy Things

Implements of dining are the obsession of the day, in some quarters at least. Like those quarters occupied by Mama Dog. Owing to a horrid dishwashing mishap, all our silverware is tarnished to the point of grottiness. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to put silver in the dishwasher, but we’d never had any problems before. Tip to all: don’t use that damn Cascade Pure Rinse Formula liquid crap. Mama Dog has been scouring the Internet for suitable replacements, and before I knew it she was looking for new plates and bowls too. Fortunately, she reigned herself in before my intervention was required.

We had no particular plans for the day and it finally stopped raining, so we went on a family (minus poor Doggy Dog, who always gets the short end) jaunt to oh-so-precious Fourth Street in north Berkeley – what I used to call “the unknown lands” before I met Mama Dog and her automobile. I looked in at Cody’s, only browsing, which I’ve decided is my best course for a while. I have about two years worth of reading in my to-read pile, so there’s no hurry for more. I did look wistfully, though, at The Stories of John Cheever. I remember when it came out in 1978 and seemed to be at the top of the best seller list the whole year. I finally feel like I’m old and crusty enough to read that sort of stuff…I really enjoyed The Swimmer when I read it last year. Came to it in a kind of roundabout way. A character in Chang-Rae Lee’s A Gesture Life summarizes the plot, and although he doesn’t mention the title, I recognised what it must be from memories of my mom talking about the movie, which was a favourite of hers (probably largely on account of the dreaminess of Burt Lancaster). Anyway, we rented the movie and liked it so much that I scoured the Internet like Mama Dog looking for flatware until I found the very same link provided earlier in this paragraph.

Oh, yeah, the flatware. Guess I got off message there.

So, while I was at Cody’s mooning over Cheever stories that I don’t have time to read, Mama Dog and Baby were looking fruitlessly at first Box and Keg and then Dank. I met her outside Dansk after she’d finished striking out both places, and we went over to On the Table for one last chance at a long shot. No dice. Bookless, disincutleried, we wound up at Peet’s, where Mama Dog bought a pound of beans and got a free cup of coffee. I suppose we could have boosted all the spoons we needed from their coffee prep area, but we didn’t think of that. Oh well.

Our family outing had lasted barely half an hour, which seemed a bit of a waste, so we resolved to drive on to The Walk Shop to get me some new shoes. Remember how I mentioned once or twice that my Joe Seibels weren’t watertight? This is yet another reason why I needed a wife. I was content to walk around with wet socks and complain about it. Mama Dog, on the other hand, actually looked at the shoes and deduced that the big fucking split all the way across the sole might have something to do with the lack of watertightness.

On the way to the car, we saw a man approaching holding hands with a very young girl – his daughter, I was hoping. He quickly made eye contact, smiled, and waved at us. We both drew a blank, and Mama Dog waved back, rifling through the mental Rolodex – “Someone I used to work with? Checker at the Berkeley Bowl?” Then it clicked, and she exclaimed, “Hi, Dr. (name elided)!” Well, blow me down. It was the chap who extracted Baby Dog from the womb. It’s like seeing your teacher at the grocery store. Incorrect context limits recognition. We stopped and chatted, and I shook his hand, which was nice, because I can’t even recall if I saw him again after the delivery, things being as meshugga as they were. I pulled the hood back from Baby Dog’s carriage and said, “You probably remember her.” Probably not the case, really – the guy has delivered hundreds of babies – but he surely recognised us, having been the one to wave first. At any rate, he grinned and bent down to look at what he’d brought forth upon this continent, and remarked upon her size and the likelihood of a nap in her near future.

We said goodbye and headed off across town to the shoe store. I remarked to a single friend recently that one of the great things about marriage is that I haven’t had to select an article of clothing for myself in five years. The first time Mama Dog and I went out to get me a pair of shoes, I said, “Just tell me what I’m getting, I’ll buy it, and we can go.” She didn’t quite follow. She kept bringing me options. “What do you think of these?” she’d ask. “They’re shoes,” I’d reply. “I don’t have any opinions. Just tell me which ones I’m buying.” We have it down to a very smooth operation now. I just plunked down on a chair and pushed Baby Dog back and forth in her stroller. I had forgotten my regular glasses in the car, so I was wearing my prescription sunglasses in the store. Mama Dog later said maybe the clerk thought I was blind and that’s why my wife was picking out my shoes for me. (Rather blankly brisk customer service, by the way. When I bought the shoes, the clerk said, “Can you give me a phone number, sir? Area code first.” I rattled off my number, then paused, and asked, “You did want mine, right?” Not even a quiver headed towards a smile. Oh well again.)

While getting my feet measured – I really should write that down someday – I was staring out the window across the street at the EBMUD Vine Street Pumping Plant. There were balloons by the door and a sign on a stand that read “Now Open.” “Now that’s curious,” I thought to myself. “Why is a water utility open to the public?” There was nothing for it but to go across the street after buying the shoes and check out the pumping plant. Turns out some young fellow has rented the place to sell wine, but has evidently not yet scraped together enough capital to come up with any signage other than “Now Open.” Since “EBMUD Vine Street Pumping Plant” is engraved on the façade, mistaken impressions are likely to abound. It must be frustrating to be a retail wine merchant and have people coming in all day long disappointed not to find industrial water pumps. Oh well one more time. We have a friend who works at EBMUD. Maybe someday he can get us a tour at a real pumping station.

Early supper followed at the Chaat Café on University. By then Baby Dog was getting tired of being moved from stroller to car seat and back, in and out of costumes, and so forth. She threw such a fit in the restaurant that we had to switch to a booth so that Mama Dog could give her a placatory feeding. I ate while Baby Dog did, then I took her on a stroll up and down University Avenue while Mama Dog enjoyed her lamb boti wrap in peace. We really have the mealtime rhythms down pretty well, but every now and then we still have to eat in shifts.

Home then, a nap for Baby Dog, a stroll for Mama Dog and Doggy Dog, and laundry for me. I like the Dan Chaon book so far and I’ve still got a bit of weekend to go.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


“There’s no end of things to do,” Mama Dog just sighed, as Baby settled into a meal and I sealed up the torn side of the Gymini’s bag with duct tape. “Yeah,” I said. “You know why? ‘Cause even if you throw away everything else, there’s always going to be more laundry.” “And dishes,” she said. “And garbage.” Ah, yes. The perennials.

Right now I’m at end-of-laundry-cycle plus one day. The determining element is t-shirts, as I have more plentiful supplies of socks and underwear. Today was kind of a free day because we had our family portrait taken and I was wearing a little-use grey mock turtle for that, and I never bothered to change out of it. I had planned on doing laundry, but never got around to it mainly because, if you’ll believe this, it was raining too hard. The machines are in the basement, and there’s no interior access. I would have had to go out the back door, down the stairs, and around to the rear entrance to make it to the laundry room. I don’t mind getting wet myself, but think of the clothes! Who knows what damage they could sustain getting wet before going into the laundry?

Okay, maybe I’m making excuses.

I’m not a big fan of clothes, by and large. I suppose they’re important for shelter from the elements and all, but they strike me as rather a necessary evil, like eating or going outside. I look at the dog sometimes – perfectly suited for any weather, thickly coated in winter, shedding down to a lighter load in summer. I think: why did we – humans, like – lose our fur? As near as I can figure it, the main evolutionary advantage to shedding our fur accrues to washing machine manufacturers and the fashion industry. Given that we went furless a couple million years ago, it seems kind of a leap of faith on the part of natural selection that it would eventually pay off economically.

In other frontiers of strange hominid behaviour: I know this will make Mama Dog’s eyes glaze over, but I have to make a comment about some of the weirdoes who’ve been looking at this page. For some reason, the number of hits I get through search engines has been increasing, and a lot of the searches seem to be curious about the things their wives or other women might be willing to do with dogs. I see why the search engine is suggesting my page – I am Papa Dog, after all – but why do these mouth-breathers bother clicking on me when the excerpt that shows up on the search page clearly has no relation to bestiality? Particularly galling – because I talked about the late, lamented Movie Pitchers a few posts back, I’ve been getting hits from people looking for “pitchers” of dogs fucking women and what have you. So I’m getting the select crop of not just pervs but illiterate pervs. Avert your gaze while I try to contain my pride.