Sunday, May 10, 2009

Live long and slobber

The little girl saw us coming from three hundred yards back. She dismounted her training-wheeled bike and stood by the side of the road, waiting to say hello to my dog Memphis, who was out on her daily walk, painting the town slobbery.

My understanding of canine endocrinology is a little rusty, but it’s pretty clear that when Memphis doesn’t get her daily walk, her glands begin to secrete crack. By the end of a walkless day, she gets all jittery, jumping at the slightest noise and barking at the carpet. Whenever I try to go two days without a walk, she starts robbing liquor stores.

Seeing an attention-getting opportunity ahead, Memphis yanked against the leash, legs and tongue flailing. If she were a human, she’d be a Wal-Mart greeter, and not the surly kind. Saying hello is her life’s passion. To say she wags her tail when greeting someone is to say that the space shuttle generates a bit of horsepower when lifting off. Her wags start at her nose and ripple backwards through her body, turning every one of her joints into a wildly swinging saloon door.

While Memphis had no reservations about the impending encounter up the street, I’m never quite sure what to say to little kids. As a childless person (for the next three months) in my early thirties with no nieces or nephews, on any given day, I’m one tenth as likely to have a conversation with a child as I am with a microphone at a drive-through window.

As we approached, the little girl pushed her pink bike helmet back and looked up at us. Since the time when I was a kid, parents have somehow figured out how to get kids to wear helmets. Perhaps it’s because helmets these days actually look pretty cool. Twenty years ago, a kid wearing a bike helmet looked like he tripped and got a dinosaur egg stuck on his head. Even if you could get a kid to wear a giant Styrofoam globe around when he was in your driveway, he was apt to stash it in the bushes as soon as he got around the corner.

Not that I know anyone who did that. And even if I did know anyone, the statute of limitations would have certainly run out by now. You can’t give a timeout to a thirty-one-year-old. At least I hope not.

The little girl held out her hand cautiously, as if Memphis was a cookie that just came out of the oven.

“You can pet her if you want. She’s nice,” I said. The girl took a step closer, and Memphis instantly transformed into thirty-five pounds of slobber-dispensing zeal.

“She’s licking me!” the girl yelped, giggling, as Memphis gave her a coating that made her look like Bill Murray after a run-in with Slimer.

After Memphis finished basting the girl, we said goodbye and continued down the street. A moment later, I heard the girl yelling, “I petted the doggie!”

“You were a hit,” I said as Memphis pranced along, smiling. Yes, dogs can smile. Cats can, too; they just choose not to.

As the specter of impending fatherhood becomes real – nine months once sounded like an eternity – it’s nice to be reminded that children aren’t something to be feared. In truth, kids really aren’t scary at all. Babies are, though. Thanks to “The Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel, I now know far more about how to catch Opilio crabs in the Bering Sea than I do about changing a diaper.

Every day, my wife Kara ventures further into her third trimester, and I feel more and more like Captain Kirk venturing into an uncharted wormhole. Except that I’m not wearing a onesie.

You can knock off a liquor store with Mike Todd at


  1. Wanna know what's great about having a baby and a dog at the same time? Your entire life suddenly becomes all about dealing with doody. Walk the dog, change a diaper, walk the dog, change the babies clothes because the poop ran out of the diaper, walk the dog, abruptly stop the baby's bath because he just pooped in the tub and you need to clean the tub, refill it and finish the bath...etc

    They should change the name from "Fatherhood" to "Doodyhood"

    Also, what was going on in 2007 when you didn't win a keystone award.

  2. " Captain Kirk... Except that I’m not wearing a onesie." Or a crappy toupée.

  3. ...the statute of limitations never runs out on hiding a bicycle helmet in the bushes...

  4. Perlson -- That doesn't sound like that much fun. You should just let the dog doody go, man. Nobody's giving you extra credit for the optional ones.

    Chris -- Dude, he was wearing a toupee? I had no idea. And I also have no idea how you got the accent on toupee. Very impressive.

    Mo -- Ha! Dude, you guys never made me wear a helmet at all. I just like making these things up. If I had stashed a helmet in the bushes, at least the bush's head would have been protected.

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