Archive | September, 2012

Midnight in the Garden of Dogs and Spiders

27 Sep

I am a dog owner: not to be confused with a dog lover.  Dog lovers swoon over their dogs, snuggle with them in private, and secretly wish all people were more like dogs. I am not that. I know a lot of dog lovers,and I don’t want them to think I am cold-hearted or mean because of my limited affection for four-legged creatures.  I think what I lack for pets, I more than make up for towards children. Regardless, I am a very conscientious and responsible dog owner who takes really good care of the animals, is always kind to them, and is thoughtful about their needs.  So, when I returned to the States a few months ago and commenced a stent of living alone with my 22 year-old, two dogs and two cats, it was important to establish some respectful boundaries for all of us.

The first rule I had to enforce was no dogs in the bedroom overnight. The scratching and ear flapping wake me up and I sleep a little uneasily anyway, so its a reasonable limit.  I bought two crates and two dog beds and re-crate trained the canines to sleep alone downstairs.  I feel just guilty enough that I let them stay with me until the absolute latest moment I can remain awake, then take them down,let them out one more time, give them a  milkbone and then into the crate they go until I let them out around 5 am.

Unfortunately, that’s not how the series of events unfolded on Tuesday night.  At around eleven, I let them out and immediately heard the lapdog tear off into the wooded part of the lawn.  The leaves crunched rhythmically beneath his paws as he tore a path along the fence, back and forth, back and forth, crunch, crunch, crunch. When I called them in, only one appeared. I groaned with frustration, crated the dutiful and obedient beagle and went back for the pest.  “Oscar.”  I pleaded, cajoled, commanded,  but nothing worked.  Crunch, crunch, crunch, the sound of his feet trotting the quickstep back and forth through the foliage was all I heard.  “Oscar!”  I yelled one last time and then gave up. I went upstairs and asked my son to try again in a few minutes.  Almost immediately, the barking started.  Short, sharp, and incessant.

The next thing I heard was my son on the phone explaining that he was going out to see about the dog agreeing that the barking was odd.  From my bedroom, I heard “Oscar, come here. Get over here. Come here, you bastard.”  My son too was out of patience and getting no response.  The barking was relentless.

In a huff, I put my clothes back on, put on my tennis shoes and descended the stairs, resigning myself to having to physically retrieve the damn dog from the backyard.  When I got outside, Aaron had the flashlight from his iPhone trained into the wooded part of our lot and he filled me in.  Oscar was squared off with a possum. “Get me a stick so I can shoo him away and we maybe we can go to bed.” my son offered.  I went back inside and got a broom.

We quickly concluded that he would hold the light and I would do the shooing.  What happened next was the culmination of my slow reflexes and my serious lack of previous experience with vermin known as possums.  From a safe distance, I pushed the broom toward the possum’s face fully expecting it to simply run away.  Wrong.  The possum stood its ground and gave me a loud open-mouthed hiss revealing an obscene number of needle-like daggers in its ridiculously huge mouth. The hiss clearly cued Oscar that he and I were on the same team, and since the possum was now out-numbered, his moment to attack had arrived.  In a split second, the two became one ball of fur and teeth rolling through the woods.  I let out a scream and started beating the heap with the broom hoping to limit the damage to my boutique, freshly groomed, a-hole of a dog. Running through the woods, wielding a broom, screaming “STOP IT! STOP IT!”  with each blow of my broom – it was not my finest moment.  After three or more swats, Oscar dropped the possum. Finally, it acted the way I expected it to – it played dead. I chased the insolent dog into the house and tried to regain my composure.  Standing in the kitchen, panting and cursing, I caught a glimpse of my sweater sleeve in the light.  I was covered with spider webs and even had a few hangers-on dangling from my arm.  More screaming, clothes stripped off, hair shaking – a full-blown, heeby-geeby, freak-out ensued!

There is nothing like a midnight adrenaline rush. Just as I regained my wits, my cellphone rang.  It was my neighbor, Peggy.  “Allison, you okay?  I can hear the barking and screaming all the way over here!”  “I’ll be just fine as soon as I kill a dog and take a shower, Peggy.  How are you?”

Dinger vs. Buzzer

8 Sep

Last Saturday night I volunteered to go on-stage during an improv show.  It was only the second-ever improv show for me and I admit, I was only there because I was being nice to a dear friend who was visiting.  I don’t know what possessed me to volunteer.  I think I was worried that no one else would.  Anyway, I was there because the troupe included a high school buddy of my friend and yadda, yadda, there I was on-stage being interviewed. 

“Do you have any children?”  she politely started.  “Yes, I have two boys.  The oldest is living with me, the youngest is at UNC-W.”  “Oh,” she went on, “What does he do?” “He’s a barrista at a local coffee shop.”  “And what do you do?”  “I teach 8th grade.”  “Are you married?”  “Yes, my husband is currently living in London.” And so it went for a few more questions, when I it suddenly dawned on me. “Oh my god.  Are you going to act out my life?”  

It turns out that they were indeed going to attempt to recreate the mayhem that is my life, on stage as an improv act, but they wanted me to guide the acting.  They sat me at a small table with a bell and buzzer. I was instructed to ring the bell when they got it right, or hit the buzzer when they were off track.  DInging would cause them to continue in that direction even pouring it on a little more, and buzzing would cause them to correct the course.  

The act opened with a very sexy Latino man promenading across the stage.  My first thought was “Who is he supposed to be?”  Ha!  Me?  “Can I ding the choice of players?  If I do will look more like him?”  Then, he pretended to write on a chalkboard. Bzzz.  <course correction>  He opens a laptop.  Thank you, this is 2012.  Ding!  He addresses the class and I ding him into being nice and enjoying it. There were a few laughs.

The second act included two lanky guys pretending to make espresso and discussing “Hey dude,  what should we get Mom for her birthday.”  BUZZZZZZZZZZZ!  -as if my boys even realize I have a birthday.  <course correction> “Hey dude, I think we missed Mom’s birthday.” Ding! Ding!  The audience started to get into it.

The finale was a raucous depiction of my home life that included a woman pretending to be Steve on Skype while Mr. Handsome pretended to drink coffee.  I liked it!  Ding, ding, ding.  Then Steve and I were totally upstaged by the dogs humping each other with great gusto.  Ding! Ding! Ding!  That about summed it up.  I have to admit, laughing at the absurdity of it all made facing Monday much easier!