Sunday, January 24, 2010

Attack of the plastic monstrosities

“Oh, pooch, I’m so sorry,” I said to my dog Memphis as she pressed against my shins, cowering like she’d done something wrong. We’d just strolled out into the street for our nightly walk, an event that we usually both enjoy, or at least we do when we aren’t wearing shock collars that should have been removed twenty feet ago.

While I once had some misgivings about hooking up our dog to a system that is designed to treat her like a bug zapper treats a moth, I’m now a huge fan. Memphis has freedom that she’d never otherwise have, and she never tests her boundaries. The system works perfectly, if operated by a non-moron. At least I assume that it would.

I’d take full blame for not snapping off the collar for her invisible fence before taking her off our property, but really, if we’re being honest, the dog should never have trusted me. She knows that my brains are slowly turning into strained carrots.

Our normal routine had been shaken up minutes earlier, as I’d made several trips back to the house to drag appliance-sized boxes out beside the trash can, boxes that once contained the gigantic plastic monstrosities that now inhabit our living room.

One of the worst symptoms of baby-having syndrome, besides thinking that everyone wants to hear stories, see pictures, watch YouTube clips and read newspaper columns about your baby, is that every square inch of floor space in your house gets occupied by things that end in “-eroo.” Bounceroos, jumperoos, this-cost-$150-but-your-kid-would-rather-play-with-empty-Doritos-bageroos, those kinds of things.

Our seven-month-old son Evan now has more furniture than we do. Admittedly, my memory from that era is a little spotty, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t have nearly this many gigantic plastic monstrosities when I was his age. Back then, kids just stared at the wall, waiting for Super Mario Brothers to be invented.

Last year, my buddy Josh called to complain after he’d spent all afternoon assembling a huge plastic activity center for his son. “Dude, this stupid thing came in seven hundred pieces. I had to bust out a screwdriver and everything,” he said.

“You have a screwdriver?” I asked. Josh is a computer whiz, but he has less experience using tools than your average chimpanzee.

“Go ahead and make fun, but you’ll understand someday,” he said.

Someday is here, and while it might take all day to put one of these things together, if you want respect, you’d be better off playing guitar in Times Square in your underpants. Nobody is ever going to say, “Oh, man, you built that Fischer-Price jumperoo all by yourself? I had no idea you were such a stud!”

Whether or not getting distracted by the baby stuff was a sufficient excuse for getting the dog shocked is a matter for debate, one that I’d lose, but it does go to show that there’s hardly anything for which having a baby doesn’t at least supply a plausible excuse.

When the dental hygienist gives you a hard time about your lack of flossing, you just say, “Flossing? I have a baby. I’m lucky my shoes match.”

When you show up an hour late for dinner with your friends, you just point at the thirty-pound car seat that you’re lugging through the door, and they immediately understand. I mean, they would hypothetically understand, if you ever saw your friends anymore.

As far as Memphis was concerned, no excuses were necessary. One Milk-Bone and several apologies later, all was forgiven. I’ll have to be on my toes from here on out, though. You mess up with a dog, it costs you a biscuit. You mess up with a kid, you just might have to build a plastic castle where your dining room table used to be.

You can shock Mike Todd at


  1. Hope you realize that God, & the rest of mankind, only allow you to use the "I have a baby" excuse for the first year. When you do find the time to construct Evan his first Castleroo, your readers will be happy to see the pictures. Mind you, Memphis will probably want a Doggieroo...and we'll still want to see the pictures.

  2. Hi,

    Saw your post on January 24th on "Attack of plastic monstrosities." We would like to buy a link from the phrase "invisible fence" on that post that links to our site. We are starting an online electric dog fence company. We are happy to pay upfront. Let me know if you are interested.


  3. Dood! That's some great stuff, Mike. Seriously, they want to pay for a link to the expression "invisible fence"? Isn't that trademarked already?

    Anywho...... back to all things "-eroo", why do you think you went and purchased that big houseroo you live in anyway? :p

    Have fun!

  4. Loon -- Only one year? I thought I was all set for the next 18 or so. Dang.

    Misty -- Tempting! But I already made $13 on my book sales (minus the $150 it cost up front), so I worry that my reader(s) might start to think I'm no longer a man of the people if I keep raking it in like this.

    Jim -- Dang, man! Good to hear from you, Buckeroo.