The Good Boy


lajbkos

I called my Mom to wish her a happy birthday and she told me the dog died.

She had to put him down  because he couldn’t even walk.

I was standing in the living room wearing nothing but my underwear and a red North Face t-shirt I accidentally stole from my friend Jeff several years ago.

The cliched thing wold be to say that I had to steady myself on the couch, that I cried, that I felt like I was punched in the stomach, that I coughed, that I bit my lip, that I did moaned in agony or beat my chest like an ancient Greek..

I didn’t.

I went into the kitchen and put a pod in my Keureg. Neither of us said anything. I watched the coffee drip into my mug with a giant letter C on it that a friend had bought me because it meant a lot to her.

There was a time, she said, when she was so poor that she could barely afford to eat. One day she came across one of these mugs the first letter of her first name on it and she bought it on a whim. She must have suffered for her minor splurge, but the mug was all the more valuable for it.

Years later, she bought one for all of us, all of her friends, and hoped that it would be as special as it was to her.

There was silence on the line. Neither of us wanted to talk because we were afraid to say anything.

So I changed the subject. This and that, birthday plans and I hung up.

The crisis of adulthood is trying not to think about death. It haunts you in the news, on the internet, at the other end of the text message from a relative that simply says “call me.”

Just don’t think about it, you say. It’s why TV exists.

My Dad texted me later that day, distraught that I hadn’t been able to see the dog before he went. I was coming home in a month.

I couldn’t think of what to say, so I smashed some words together and said “he loved and he was loved and I think that, in the end, he knew that he was always loved, and that’s really what matters.”

My dad said “you’re right” and we didn’t talk anymore.

I went to work and didn’t bring up the dog.

I feel like I need to preform when I’m with a group of people. Not always, only most of the time. It probably comes from my theater background, or maybe not. Laughter and applause are easy ways to know you are doing well.

I used to struggle when I wasn’t the center of attention. It would baffle me why certain people, people I considered boring, would be invited to things I wasn’t invited to. They didn’t do anything.

They were just there.

That’s it.

Just there.

And so dogs.

What do dogs do?

Dogs do nothing.

When dog people talk about dogs it often times sounds like they are talking about mini-deities. They extol the canine virtues, those little beings of transcendent love and obedience, unconditional caring and good-natured heroism rolled up into a ball of fuzz and fluff with a tail and a tongue and a smile.

I don’t know about that, but I do know that dogs have an uncanny sense to know when to be there. There for you. There for me. Just there.

See here, the boy crying on the white-tiled floor because he can’t remember what was there before he was born. It’s just dark. Just nothing.

His door is only mostly shut, and a snout nuzzles it open and in walks a golden retriever, his loping, side-to-side gait indicative of the hip problems associated with the breed.

The boy cries. He’s afraid and the scariest part of his fear is that he doesn’t know what he’s afraid of.

The dog doesn’t try to cheer him up. Doesn’t ask questions. Doesn’t pry. Doesn’t want to fix things. People want to fix things but dogs don’t want to fix things.

He lays down in a huff next to the boy and puts his head in his lap.

Dogs are just there.

I know a lot of dogs that are good at things. They run through things and jump over things. They bark at things and catch things. They attack things and protect things. They chase things. They follow things.

My dog Cosmo didn’t do any of this. He wasn’t faster or smarter or funnier or better than other dogs, but I think he knew something that some other dogs don’t. That some other people don’t.

He knew the secret. The key to the pinnacle of life.

It isn’t to be well trained or be obedient. Certainly not that.

It isn’t to be the best, or to be the worst, or to be the middle, or to have the things, or to not have the things or to run or to fly or to joke or to think or to puzzle or to write or to dance or to eat or to sing or to play or to anything or to nothing.

It’s none of that.

It’s to love and be loved.

It’s to jump on the couch even though you’re not supposed to and lay your head on someone’s lap just because you know they won’t mind. It’s to bark at strangers when they’re far away but wag your tail and kiss them when they draw close. It’s to lick people for no reason. To cry. To smile. To frown. To whatever.

It’s to know that there is no other virtue required of you in anyone’s company other than your presence. That’s it.

That’s all it ever was.

You don’t have to be smart. You don’t have to be dumb. You don’t have to be quiet, don’t have to be loud, don’t have to be happy, be sad, be funny, be stoic, be angry or passive or active or monotone or baritone or any tone or no tone or anyone, no one, this one, that one, me, you, him, her, he, she, it, them, they all of us and none of us or everywhere or nowhere or this or that or whatever.

You just have to be here. Be yourself. You can wag your tail if you want, but it’s not required.

Just be here.

We’ll fill in the rest.

Be here.

Like a good boy.

That’s it.

Just a good boy.

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Dogs and Babies Are The Same Thing


dumb ass dogs

My family is a dog family.  My parents have a golden retriever.  My sister has a pug.  If I were able to afford to feed another being other than myself, I would probably have a dog too.  Well, maybe if I didn’t live in LA.

Los Angeles must be hell for dogs.  Their acute hearing must ring with every horn honk and fire truck siren, the stenches of human secretion and garbage that grace the streets must ravage their sensitive noses.  The hundred-degree concrete can’t be good for their paw pads, and the only grass in my neighborhood is already so full of poop that it basically is poop.

Careless dog owners leave the poop.  I like to imagine they think they are doing the grass a service.  In this drought-ridden land, where water is scarce and sprinklers are basically outlawed, dog poop might be the only moisture the grass gets.  In their minds, I think, they are keeping LA green with a little bit of brown.

The poop thing doesn’t really bother me.  I live in an apartment.  It’s not my grass, and after my second or third venture into a plot of turf, I’ve learned just not to walk on the stuff.  City dogs don’t bother me, either.  They’re always on leashes and seem so blasé about every new stimulus they come across that I feel sorry for them.  Here comes a doberman pincher, its face droopy with ennui.  A squirrel crosses his path, and the doberman merely watches it trot along before wandering over to a three inch by five inch tuft of scrub to defecate.  Back it goes, into a tiny studio apartment, to sit on a couch and watch re-runs of Law and Order while it’s owner asks it for notes on her audition.

“Yeah, I wanted that line to be ‘bark’, but what if I tried it less ‘bark'”?

The only dogs that bother me are the dogs that people bring into the mall.  If I had to make a list of places where dogs don’t belong, the mall would be included, along with hospitals and the surface of the sun.

I saw one urinate on some of our fake plants one time.  Its owner told him “good boy” and then just walked away.  I’m supposed to call someone when this happens.  Mall security, I think.  I never do, though.  It’s not my fake plant.

Sometimes, when I can’t fall asleep, I wonder if dogs poop in the fake plants.  It’s why I don’t use the escalators anymore.  They’re just too close.

The only thing worse than dogs are babies.  You would think that babies wouldn’t be as bad.  You can leave a dog at home.  You can’t really leave your baby at home.  Babies are only good at a few things, and finding creative ways to injure themselves seems to be one of them.  “I have no idea how she fell down the trash chute, officer.  I had only popped over to the mall to walk my dog for an hour or, so.  Honestly, how did she have the time?”

Babies are worse because dogs eventually get tired of making noise.  Babies never do.  More often than not, I’ll be on register, writing down someone’s very berry hibiscus refresher on a trenta cup (no ice, extra berries), and a baby will be wailing.  It’s impossible to discern where the noise comes from.  There are dozens of strollers in line, and dozens more waiting for drinks.  Strollers prowl the walkways and block the elevator.  Strollers gently rise up and down on escalators, and jam up the exit routes.  If there were a fire, only people who ran hurdles in high school would be able to make it to safety.  The strollers would foil the rest of us.

I was cleaning the stores lobby when a baby barked at me.  I turned to its stroller, and it wasn’t a baby.  It was a dog.  The dog smiled, wagged it’s tale, and barked again.  It must have been two or three, and seemed to be in perfect health.  Its owner turned and looked at me.  The expression on her face said “well, aren’t you going to complement my dog?”

I looked next to her, where another woman stood behind her stroller.  There was a baby in her’s, and a young couple were fawning over it.

And that’s when I got it.

You don’t bring your baby or your dog to the mall for their enjoyment, or health, or benefit at all.  You don’t take them because you can’t leave them home.

You bring them because it makes you special.  It sets you apart from the rest of us.  Your a mother, or a father, a caretaker of some kind.  You want to be complemented.

You’re showing off.  That’s why you bought the bright pink, two thousand dollar stroller that has a mini AC in it.

The dog owner was still looking at me.  Her face still longed for validation.

I gave in.

“Dogs aren’t allowed in the mall” I told her.

She blinked.

Thirty minutes later, my shift ended, and I got to go home, to blissfully continue my life, free of both babies and dogs.

Because, really.  Can you tell the difference?

dog and baby

It couldn’t stay buried forever forever forever


In lieu of posting anything new, though I am working on some stuff, I’ve decided to do my last repost from my old blog.  I wrote this in 2010 during the men’s world cup.  It was pretty much my first post like the ones I post now, with pictures and everything.  Hope you like it.

Power Leg(s)!

In anticipation of the World cup, my roommate and I have been, as we call it, practicing soccer, or, as onlookers call it, flailing about like idiots. It has been a wonderful way to spend my afternoons, apart for the swarms of gnats that seem to think my head is an all you can land buffet. It isnt. Unfortunately, I have recently come down with a self diagnosed condition I like to call “Soccer leg.” Since I am right footed, my right leg has been infused with incredible power while my left leg has resigned itself to wither away in disuse. The problems with this are twofold: firstly, my right leg is slightly larger and more buff than my left and scientists speculate that if the current trend continues my right leg will continue its unparalleled growth and, I fear, end up absorbing my left leg, much like a fratricidal twin in the womb, and I will be left with one all-powerful Gargantuleg. Secondly, as I discovered today whilst running, the extra use that has given my right leg it’s strength also weakens it after a soccer practice, and around a mile into my run I found myself with an over-exerted right leg. This was my left legs chance! It desperately wanted me to press on, but sadly for me (and for my left leg) all I could manage was a swift hobble, which is slower than a lethargic stroll. All seemed lost. It was not however a total waste, for my slowness of pace did allow me to take note of my fellow “runners” and I, like any insane person would have done, began to categorize them into several Archetypes, 5 of which i will display now.

The Running Archetypes
A study by Charles Brock
1. Fat Woman With Dog
The first person one sees on a running path is always a fat woman. With a dog. They seem to congregate around the beginning of paths and never stray father than the middle. Pink of face and heavy of step, these woman are oft found with comically large water bottles and are always in some sort of pink exercise attire, most likely bought at the same store. Why they have the dog is a mystery to me. It’s not like they are taking a stroll down MLK blvd or the DMZ between the two Koreas. What use is a dog? The dogs themselves are seldom terrifying, or even worrisome. Their stature could best be described as bite-sized. I began to think that every obese woman just naturally brought a dog everywhere they went, be it walking on a path, McDonald’s, surgery or any number of other activities. But then I became aware of some fat women heading towards me with no dogs at all. This puzzled me for quite some time, because i seemed to remember that these women used to have dogs. Where could they have gone? And then I realized that the main difference between obese women with and without dogs wasn’t something tangible, it was merely a matter of time. For you see, they headed down the trail with their furry friends in tow, yet they returned with nothing but full(er) bellies. They had been eaten!
2. The Inexplicable Children
The inexplicable children are possibly the most baffling archetype of all. They are simply kids, wandering about on the running trail for no reason whatsoever, and doing nothing apart from being bothersome. If someone tripped over a child they could seriously injure themselves! These kids are just wandering about with no supervision whatsoever, getting in everyone’s way. I mean, who fucking does that?? Who lets their kids wander around a running path by a busy road?? If I were a child molester, my job (hobby?) would have been made laughably easy by these inept parents. They would take to being kidnapped like daisies to a plucking…
Moreover, who are these children? Where did they come from? Where are their parents? Why are they galavanting about on a running path? The answer to these questions, however, lie in the same place as the answers to the questions of Lost: nowhere.
“You mean you actually watched the whole thing? LOL!”
3. Bike Guy
The second most feared archetype in the outdoor fitness world, this guy doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything except biking and pissing people off. He will run you down as if you were the little kid in gladiator and not even think twice about it, and there is no Russel Crowe to exact revenge for you (probably). For some reason he prefers to bike on paths too narrow to pass obese walking dog ladies, or even regular runners/strollers/squirrels/anything. And yet he does pass…with a vengeance. Most often when bikes are coming up on you, you hear the clank of metal or the bike chain or something, but not when this asshole approaches. When this guy comes up on you, you’ll only know it by a whoosh of air to your left, an unexplainable bike which has just appeared 20 meters in front of you and is receding at a breakneck speed, and a vague feeling that you should be dead but have somehow narrowly avoided your fate. Since I didn’t have my scanner with me I couldn’t get an accurate reading when a bike guy passed by me today, but his power level must have been somewhere in the range of 9000!
But there was no way that could be right…
4. Out of Place Couple
Most people come outside to exercise, but not these guys. Normally a middle aged husband and wife, these people may not be burning the calories, but they like to pretend that they are. They dress up in sporting paraphernalia and have water bottles, so they areexercising, right? They often wander side to side on the path in unpredictable patterns that can be hazardous to other trail users.
5. The Silver Bullet
The most feared man in the running world, the silver bullet is indeed a force to be reckoned with. He is faster than many runners will ever be in their prime, and the dude is 90 something years old! Like the bike guy, the only thing keeping the silver bullet alive is the constant movement and endorphin rush of running, and run he does. Faster than the dreaded Cassowary, the silver bullet can even reach speeds fast enough to travel back in time! Who could make it so that you were never born. Or he could be your father. Perhaps he is everyone’s father. Who can know except for him? Some even attribute near magical powers to him, akin to the force. Be afraid.

“Skateboarding on my sidewalk, you young rascals? FEEL MY RAGE!”

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