Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lord of the Leaves

“I think you stole my iPod,” I said to my wife Kara yesterday. She chuckled and shook her head, not looking up from her laptop.

“No, seriously, give it back,” I said.

“Did that help?” she asked. My time-tested technique of locating lost items is to accuse an innocent person of stealing them. The only other effective method is to buy a replacement, which assures you’ll find the original, provided that you’ve also lost the receipt. But wildly accusing loved ones is much cheaper, so that’s Plan A.

“Maybe you should stop looking for it and take the dog outside,” she said.

At the sound of the word “outside,” Memphis jumped off the couch and ran to the sliding glass door, prancing near the handle. Somehow, she’s managed to pick up a foreign language better than I did through five years of Spanish classes. Her vocabulary is still pretty limited, but she understands enough to tell when a trip outdoors is pending, or that I’d prefer for her to stop ripping the heels out of my good work socks. Actually, the second one might have more to do with my delivery than with her English-as-a-Second-Language skill. Screaming is the universal language.

Ever since I dumped a jar of Thanksgiving turkey fat over the deck railing out back, the dog has been trying to go feral. I couldn’t figure out why she was repeatedly ignoring my calls to come back inside until I noticed the slurping sounds coming from just off the side of the deck, as Memphis licked her newfound delicacy off the leaves that I hadn’t yet blown to one side of the yard so that nature could blow them back the next day.

Incidentally, is there any tool that can make you feel more God-like than a leaf blower? You simply point your hand, and the leaves scatter like armored warriors attacking Sauron, or Magneto, if you prefer. And if you don’t know who Sauron and Magneto are, you can console yourself that, while this paragraph might not have made any sense, at least you were cool in high school.

In any event, I’ve learned a new thing this week, which is that liquefied turkey fat is irresistible to a dog, much like steroids to whoever broke the home run record this year.

“Or you could feed the baby, if you prefer,” Kara said.

“Didn’t we just feed him?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “We’ve always just fed him.”

Not that it will do me any good until I find my iPod, but a friend just showed me an article about a new application for iPods that can listen to a baby crying and tell you what the problem is. This application does not sound like it’s worth thirty bucks. I can tell you why the baby is crying: either he’s hungry or there’s a clown nearby.

Babies do not stop eating. The plant from Little Shop of Horrors was probably written by someone with a baby at home.

“Feed me, Seymore!” our son Evan yells every two hours, in so many words.

Of course, it’s not fair to compare a baby to a singing plant that devours people whole, mostly because babies can’t sing. Also, they don’t end your life, just your social life.

Desperate in my search for the iPod, I picked up the lid on our little ceramic pumpkin to see if I’d left it in there. Over Thanksgiving weekend, that pumpkin had severely disappointed Kara’s sister Sarah.

“Dude, cough drops?” she said. “Who keeps cough drops in the candy pumpkin?”

“They’re vitamin C drops,” Kara replied. “We’re trying not to get sick around the baby.”

But that’s who we’ve become: The people who keep cough drops in the candy bowl. Before you know it, we’ll be giving out pennies for Halloween and complaining that we don’t understand how to use any technology that’s been invented since we were twenty-five.

Speaking of which, did you steal my iPod?

You can liquefy Mike Todd at

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