Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Live Like Lou

Yet, today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth... I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.
-Lou Gehrig Farewell Speech, July 4, 1939

Despite the fact that it was made twenty-six years before I was born, I can remember watching Pride of the Yankees when I was a kid and crying my eyes out at the end, when Lou Gehrig made his farewell speech to baseball. I didn’t understand exactly what was going on, or what Lou Gehrig’s disease was – I just knew it was sad. I learned later that what we Americans often think of as Lou Gehrig’s disease is officially amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. And while the movie focuses more on the successes of a sports hero and the sadness around his getting sick, it could not begin to show the true devastation that ALS causes to the people affected by it.

ALS is a neurological disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of motor neuron cells in the spinal cord and brain, which ultimately results in paralysis and death. Patients in the later stages of ALS are totally paralyzed yet, through it all, their minds remain unaffected. There is no meaningful treatment for ALS and there is no cure.

Over 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year (15 new cases every day). 60% of the people with ALS in the Database are men and 93% are Caucasian. Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis, but the disease can occur at a younger age.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to go through something like that. The terrifying feeling of losing everything and knowing it. The heart-wrenching sadness of watching a loved one trapped inside a body that is giving up on them. Upon diagnosis patients live 2 – 5 years on average, with approximately 10 percent living 10 years or more. 2-5 years is nothing. Even 10 years is nothing compared to a lifetime. Especially when those years are spent with ALS.

Neil Alexander is a Pittsburgher who does know what it is like to live with ALS. He was diagnosed at the age of 46. And this active, fun-loving husband and father from Pittsburgh knows what is ahead for him and other with ALS. But he decided he wouldn’t just sit back and focus on the negative. Instead, he and his wife created a foundation called LiveLikeLou.org to honor the example Lou Gehrig set for all people living with ALS – determination, hard work and grace in the face of adversity. Their goal is to have a meaningful impact on the disease locally and nationally for years to come.

Funds raised by LiveLikeLou.org will raise awareness of ALS, provide care and comfort to ALS families in Western Pennsylvania, and support scientific research targeted at finding a cure. In fact, LiveLikeLou.org made its first grant in January, 2012, purchasing two pieces of critical equipment (that are not covered by insurance) for the ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter’s “Loan Closet”.

Go check out LiveLikeLou.org and learn more about ALS, Lou and Neil. Think about donating, if you can spare it. If you do, your money will go to help people – and their families – deal with this terrible disease a little better. Click here to donate. But don’t take my word for it – let Neil himself tell you about it:

Neil Alexander at The Pittsburgh Foundation Board Meeting from The Pittsburgh Foundation on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm Considering a New Career

I have an addiction to reading advice columns. I don't know why, since between the dumbass questions people send in and the often dumbass answers they get in return, I usually end up irritated. After reading today's Dear Prudence columns I tweeted this:

And I swear I'm right. Here is a sample of some of the letters, and my responses to them:

Q. Stripper for a Daughter: I had been struggling to make a living at my job for a few years now and decided to apply as a bartender at a local strip club. After a few days of working there, the manager said he was low on girls for the night and asked if I would like to dance for the night. I was a little hesitant at first but decided it was just one night. I ended up loving it and made around $800 in a few hours! We talked, and I became a dancer overnight. This was about a year ago. The other night while doing a set, one of my parents’ friends comes up to the stage and asks for a VIP dance. The entire time he was telling me how he wants a cut of my earnings to stay quiet and not tell my parents what I am doing! I either have to come clean to my parents (who are VERY religious and would disown me), quit my job and get further in debt, or start paying this guy half of my nightly earnings.

A: Let’s set aside the fact that A) what this guy is doing is possibly illegal, and B) You are an adult and can work wherever you want and focus on this: If you take a job that will make your parents DISOWN YOU if they find out, and do so close enough that a family friend can walk in and see you, then you, my dear, are a dumbass!

Q. Gay Parents: My son is in second grade and a classmate of his has "two daddies." My son wants to go over to his friend's house to play, but we are nervous about this. I know my opinion is probably unpopular, but it is still my opinion: I do not know if this is a good environment for my son at his age. We do not talk about topics like homosexuality in our home. We do not want to field questions yet about these kinds of topics; we want him to be able to just be a kid instead of dealing with complex sexual issues. His friend plays at our house and he is a very nice boy, but eventually his "daddies" will want to know if my son can go to their house. How do we tactfully tell this couple that we would prefer if their son plays at our house? My sister thinks that I will just have to "get over it" and send my son over there. But isn't it my right to monitor environments and control influences for my children? I fear that children in modern society are exposed to far too much far too soon—what happened to letting kids just be kids?

A: Really? You are a dumbass.

Q. Grandchild's Baby Name: My son and daughter-in-law are expecting a girl in the next 10 weeks. They announced their baby name, and I find it rather distasteful. My daughter-in-law has been an avid Gone With the Wind fan and is using Scarlet as the middle name. The first name is a traditional girls’ name. I told my son, privately, that I think it is wrong to use a name like Scarlet as a middle name because her character in the book was not something a little girl should know about or aspire to be. My son told me that a middle name is hardly even used, usually just an initial is fine, and their daughter will be known by her traditional first name. Should I talk to my daughter-in-law about this?

A: Are you for real? Because if you are, then you are a dumbass!

Q. Losing My Self Respect: I got married and moved to the USA. I love my husband. I used to be independent, and used to always believe in equality. I believed that husbands and wives have equal rights. But my husband becomes abusive occasionally. I told his family and my family about it, and they keep telling me that I should find ways to avoid situations which cause him to get that way. The problem is I have to be careful giving my opinion now, because anything could lead to an argument and then could get physical. I don’t want to leave him, because most of the time he is a good person. But I'm torn between my principles, self-respect and dignity, and letting myself down to avoid him getting mad at me. What is the right way to tackle this?

A: If you don’t stop listening to your dumbass family and leave this idiot, then you are a dumbass.

Q. Semi-Famous Blogger Crosses a Line?: My daughter is in second grade and is good friends with a girl whose mother writes a blog that has extensive readership. I read her blog and she is very careful to never mention any of her daughter's friends by name or post their photo. However, she posts her daughter's photo and writes blog posts about her frequently. In the past few weeks, my daughter and some of their other friends have started wanting their parents to write about them, too. I think these girls are at the age where female competition rears its ugly head and they are jealous that their friend is broadcasted on the Internet for lots of people to see when they are not. Is this something I should bring up with this girl’s mother? If I were her, I would want to know that my actions were causing some friction between young girls.

A: WTF? Let me get this straight – this blogger respects the privacy of others and doesn’t do anything offensive or unkind? So basically, what you’re saying is that her success makes you feel inferior? Say it with me now: DUMBASS

Q. Daughter's Adoptive Baby: I have been reading you for ages. My daughter is a very successful businesswoman, a senior vice president at a company you would recognize. She is also 37 and single, sacrificing a personal life for a professional one. Lately she has been exploring the option of adopting a foreign baby and being a single mother. I tried to explain to her that celebrities make this look far more glamorous than it actually is. I told her that she chose a career over a family quite some time ago and trying to have both now is going to be extremely difficult. She got upset and told me that what she is doing is perfectly normal. My husband and I are divorced, and I know how hard being a single mom can be. How can I explain this to her differently?

A: Hi – I just spoke with 1957 and they’d like their antiquated, dumbass attitude back. Dumbass.

Q. Housekeeper: This is a problem I am sure a lot of people would love to have. My boyfriend and I are in our late 20s and we both have good salaries. We talked about moving in together and we are fairly compatible. But here is the thing: He has a housekeeper. (That sound you hear is all my girlfriends rolling their eyes.) I do not think we need a housekeeper. Two people keeping a two bedroom apartment clean should be manageable. He thinks that if he hates to clean and can afford to pay somebody else he should. While I can't see anything outright wrong with that, part of me feels like he is indulgent and immature. I don't like to do a lot of things, but I do them anyway. He told me that if we let the housekeeper go then I will be totally responsible for all the cleaning. I think that is also unreasonable. Why can't he just pick up after himself? What if we can't afford a housekeeper in the future? Will he have any idea how to be self-reliant? Is it so wrong that I think we should be responsible for keeping such a small space clean?

A: The guy is willing to pay for a housekeeper and that’s a problem? I can find 35,624 women in the next ten minutes who would happily take this problem. You big dumbass.

See? I should totally be an advice columnist! Send me a question - I'll solve all your problems. Or just call you a dumbass. One of those.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Life with a Drama Queen

Since she hit about 18 months, the girl has been a drama queen. Everything is either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, her favorite or “EWWW – I hate it!” Everyone she knows is her best friend or she doesn’t know them at all (you might have thought I was going to say her worst enemy, but no - she loves everyone, except maybe bigots and mean people, all of whom she will try to reform). So needless to say, when she claims to be sick or injured, I tend to take it with a grain of salt.

One of my big parenting fears is becoming one of “those parents.” You know the ones – they call the doctor over every little thing and when the doctor tells them everything is fine, they rush off to the ER or find another doctor (I personally know a set of parents like this and they are a constant, crazy reminder to calm the fuck down, mama). When it comes to illness, I can usually tell when it’s real or…well…not fake, but…I don’t know…dramatitized (That doesn’t seem to be a word, but some people coughwordswithfriendscough don’t think dementors is a word, either, so fuck it). When she is sick, she gets lethargic (something she has way to much energy to fake), and pale and sleepy. But injuries are a little harder to judge.

So when she was complaining of knee pain, I figured it was more theatrics. It was evening and there was no way I was taking her to the ER for long waits, and germs, and billing problems and nonsense. As the night went on, I started to become slightly more convinced that she was really hurting, though. I slept with her that night and she whimpered in pain in her sleep. And in the morning, before she fully awake, she did the same thing. So I took her into the doctor’s office to be seen. The doctor said that she had definitely done something to it, but she didn’t know what and that we needed to wait for the swelling to go down to really tell. SO in the meantime – crutches.

Now, I remember being a kid and thinking crutches were cool (until I had to hobble around on them for months, that is), and the girl was no exception – she was dying to go to school on crutches – oh the drama she’d squeeze out of that one – being on crutches in second grade is the absolute height of celebrity. But the doctor’s office didn’t have any in her peanut size. Neither did any of the local medical supply places (my kid is tiny). So the last option was Apria, who would deliver them to our house right away. I carried her to check out and was informed that Apria had suddenly amended “right away” to “first thing tomorrow.” OK – no big deal – I could handle carrying her for a little longer. But it was a big deal to her – she wanted to go to school and bask in her crutch-filled glory. She was NOT happy. But I told her that as soon as the crutches came I would take her to school.

Friday morning, the first thing out of her mouth was “Are my crutches here?” She was not amused by my answer of “no.” A few hours went by while she bemoaned the pain in her knee (by which she meant “the pain of not being able to be the Second Grade Queen of Crutches”). And then I got a call. A horrible, terrible, no good, very bad call. Apria was calling to get my credit card number (because I have a deductible and god forbid they bill me), and to let me know that the crutches were on their way – they’d be there…dun dunh DUNNNNNNHHHH…Saturday!

Oh, the horror!

Needless to say, I had an unhappy Drama Queen on my hands. I was pissed at Apria, because WTF? She was pissed at the entire world, because see: drama queen. I explained to her that she couldn’t go to school since I obviously couldn’t carry her around all day. Eventually, she got over it and a funny thing happened. She started being able to out weight on her knee. Don’t get me wrong – it was clearly still a little “off” and she was walking funny, but suddenly – since she wasn’t going to be able to be Second Grade Queen of Crutches – sitting around and waiting for me to carry her from place to place was slightly less appealing. By evening, she was walking pretty normally. By Saturday morning, she was running and jumping and dancing and leaping.

Clearly, she was completely recovered.

Until early Saturday afternoon when the crutches came and she suddenly was in pain and thought she should use the crutches to go to the birthday party she was invited to that afternoon. Forget it, kid. I’m onto you.

See - not dramatic at all, right?

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Not that there's anything wrong with that

I have been in a real funk lately – just feeling depressed & to use the scientific term: yucky. But my oldest friend Hedge came up last night for a drunkover and what medicine that was – she’s the yuckiness antidote. We don’t see each other nearly enough, but when we do, we just get each other. We have a way of making each other feel better without the need to have deep meaningful conversations & cry-fests. We support each other in an unspoken sort of way. Like she says “Poop” and what she really means is “I’m here for you” and then I say “Boobs” and I mean “I love you, too.” And then we laugh our asses off. Last night was no exception.

Me: I think I told the boy’s friend’s mom I was gay

H: What?

Me (louder): I think I told the boy’s friend’s mom I was gay

H: I heard you, jackass, but what the hell are you talking about?

Me: Well, we were talking about being gay, and I said something that I think came out the wrong way so I think she thinks I was saying I am gay.

H: Did you correct yourself?

Me: Well, no, because I don’t care. Also, because I didn’t want to come off like it was an issue in any way.

H: Yeah, you don’t want to be all Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”

Me: Exactly.

H: Well, how is it that you were talking about being gay anyway?

Me: We were talking about that weird homophobic facebook person.

H: Oh…her

Me: Yeah

H: You know what would be awesome? If her kid turned out to be gay.

Me: Not just gay, STAGE GAY.


Me: By the way, right after I implied I was gay, I mentioned you were staying over tonight, so…


Me: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I love you, Hedge!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Movie Meme

OK, so for Valentine’s Day, I’m jumping on the Valentine Movie Meme bandwagon. Mostly because I have nothing mushy to profess and because my other option was to share my worst date ever. So even though I am not really a movie person (I like movies, but they don’t stick with me like books do), here I go…

1. What is your favorite romantic comedy?

I’d say either When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle

2. What is your favorite romantic drama?

I’m not one to rush to romantic movies in general – romantic comedies are a little more likely because of the comedy part, so I can’t really pick one.

3. Worst romance film you've seen?

I don’t know – maybe that one with the asteroid & Ben Affleck? I kind of dislike Ben Affleck. And world-is-going-to-end movies just piss me off.

4. How do you feel about the majority of romantic films being labeled "chick flicks"?

I don’t care what you call them – if I like them, I like them. Call them Harold for all I care.

5. Favorite on-screen couple?

Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle. No – Ron & Hermione!

6. Favorite off-screen couple?

Jessica Tandy & Hume Cronyn – they were lovely.

7. Best kiss in a movie?

Rhett & Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. Or Ron & Hermoine in Deathly Hallows. Or Westley & Buttercup in The Princess Bride. Or Milton & Karen in From Here to Eternity. NO! LADY & THE TRAMP!!

8. Favorite romantic scene?

Oh man – this would be the scene in The Horse Whisperer when Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas were dancing. They were in love, but she was married. And her husband was sitting across the room. For some reason, that scene – though kind of sad, and not particularly sexy – is one of the most gut-wrenching, yet romantic and sensual scenes ever to me.

9. Who are 2 film characters you wished had gotten together, but never did?

I don’t know – I tend to accept whatever the movie is, without becoming particularly invested. Maybe Brad Pitt & Julia Ormond from Legends of the Fall, but I liked him with Karina Lombard, too, so…

10. Two actors you think would have great chemistry, but have never done a film together?

Me and Tom Selleck. Except for the part where he’d start talking his right wing crap and I’d be forced to silence him using magic. Or a sword. Fine - I'm not an actor. Whatever.

11. Favorite romantic song in a film (doesn't have to be from a musical)?

Either To Make You Feel My Love, from Hope Floats or A Soft Place to Fall from The Horse Whisperer (the scene I mentioned previously)

12. Best score from a romance film?

Beauty and the Beast. Shut up.

13. Most romantic film quote?

My second favorite would be the one from When Harry Met Sally:

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

But my all-time favorite would be from The Jerk:

“The first day seemed like a week. And the second day seemed like five days. And the third day seemed like a week again. And the fourth day seemed like eight days. But the fifth day you went to see your mother, and that seemed just like a day. But then you came back, and later on the sixth day, in the evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days. So in the evening, it seemed like two days spilling into the next day and that started seeming like four days. So, at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days. And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half. I have it written down, but I can show it to you tomorrow if you want to see it. Anyway, I've decided that tomorrow when the time is right, I'm going to ask you to marry me. If that's okay with you, just don't say anything.”

14. A film you'd recommend to watch on Valentine's Day?

Any of the above.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Driving Me Crazy

Driving with my husband can be described in two words: "Absolutely" and "Terrifying." Or, actually, I should probably clarify that - what I am referring to is riding with my husband while he is driving. Because "driving with my husband" could refer to the times when I am driving and he is in the car. That isn't terrifying at all. That is nice, since if I am driving, we are most likely on our way to a vacation, since he is completely incapable to staying awake while driving to vacation.

I don't know why driving to vacation is so exhausting for him, but I suppose it has to do with a few different things: 1) the length of the drive - we generally go somewhere at takes 7-12 hours and his attention span is not that great (as evidenced by my houseful of unfinished projects and his penchant for daily afternoon short power naps, which are neither short or powerful), 2) the fact that we often drive at night, because I am crazy and I want my vacation to start as early as possible, rather than spend half of my first day driving rather than enjoying my vacation (by enjoying my vacation, I mean drinking and pounding advil while my kids loudly harass me to to take them down to the beach/spend $783 to get into an amusement park/go shopping (???)/fight over who gets what room because that bathroom has yellow and yellow is my favorite color and HE ALWAYS GETS WHAT HE WANTS!!!!. (you can see why I'd be anxious to get that started, cant you?), and 3) I have an ego-stroking hypnosis routine I use on him while we pack the car & start the drive with him at the wheel, so I can get him out from behind the wheel as soon as possible, because have I mentioned how terrifying his driving is?

Why is his driving so terrifying, you ask? OK, fine, you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway. There are multiple reasons:

1. His goal in life, as far as I can tell, is to get from Point A to Point B without using his brakes. It doesn't matter if Point A is 10 feet or 10 billion miles from Point B - he wants to get there without braking. This results in him not hitting the brakes until he is 100% certain that the light is not going to change to green and that the giant backup of cars in front of him is not going to miraculously clear out of his way before he closes the 20 feet between us, thus slamming them on at the last minute and scaring the poop out of me. Even an 8 year old knows this is terrifying - Recently, The Girl - after one of the many near-whiplash, gasping in fear moments, piped up from the backseat: "Should we let Mom drive?" Yes, honey, we should.

2. He drives like he is on a tour. When that man gets behind the wheel, suddenly his surroundings are beautiful and he can't take his eyes off them - houses, cars, businesses, trees, people standing in their front yards, the sky, stray dogs, road kill, rocks, yard flamingos, you name it - he wants to look at it all. What isn't at all interesting to him and not worth looking at while he is driving? The road.

3. He fancies himself a comedian: He likes to joke and make faces and act goofy and dance around. Unfortunately, as he dances and goofs off, his entire body goes goofy with him. So while he shimmies to the right, so does the car. To the left? Yep - so does the car. I know firsthand that this is not a good idea - I once wrecked a car that way. Also - he's not particularly funny in the car - though it may be that I can't appreciate the humor through my terror.

4. Suddenly eye-contact is important to him. The same man who in the house, will barely look up from his phone or computer or hockey game when the kids and I try to get his attention, suddenly becomes Stuart Smiley when he is behind the wheel - turning to talk to me, or turning around to talk to the kids in the back seat.

5. Outside the car I'm lucky if I can get him to do one thing. Inside the car, he's suddenly the world champion multi-tasker - he's driving and trying to find a cd somewhere in the car and adjusting things and looking for his phone charger.

6. His shortcuts. If you are ever in the car with my husband and he says the word "shortcut," be prepared to settle in for the long haul, because his shortcuts are never, ever actually short.

7. He doesn't use the windshield wipers or high beams when he should. We can be barreling down a curvy, unlit road in the dead of night when there is no moonlight in the pouring rain (all the while trying not to use his brakes), and he won't turn on the high beams or wipers until I beg him to (because if I can't see, I know damned well he can't either).

8. He gets furious when the person behind him is tailgating him (as do I), but he has no problem climbing up the ass of the person in front of him. I suspect this has less to do with his opinion of how fast the person in front is traveling and more to do with the aforementioned refusal to use his brakes.

9. At the risk of sounding like my mother when I was a teen driver ("Both hands on the wheel, Gina!"), the man never has more than one hand on the wheel. I will admit that my hands are not always at 10 and 2, but most of the time, they are both somewhere on the damned thing. Not only are his not both on the wheel, his left hand will be sagging over the top of the wheel, while his right hand is as far from the wheel as it can get - under his leg, in his pocket, searching for a cd between the seats, reaching into the back seat to do something goofy for the kids. It doesn't matter if the roads are wet or snowy, or if we're driving a winding, switchback, narrow road through the mountains - ONE HAND ONLY!

And my own personal favorite:

10. He thinks that lane markers are merely suggestions.

So is it any wonder that I would prefer the less terrifying option of being the driver? Notice I didn't say "less peaceful" option, since when he is riding, he generally falls asleep and starts snoring. And his snoring? EPIC. The only reason he survives these in-car snorestravaganzas is that I wont take my eyes off the road long enough to find a pillow and my hands off the wheel to shove it over his face.

Sadly, on the long drive home from a family visit this weekend, I discovered a new downside to him being the driver: The angle of one's (fat, middle-aged) reflection in the side view mirror. It prompted me to consider putting and ad in the classifieds (perhaps the trade/swap section):

Wanted: One neck. Willing to trade several chins.

If only his driving would shave off pounds instead of years. I'd let him drive all the time, lane-markers be damned.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

He Might Not Actually Be a Dog

I’m a dog person. Actually, I’m also a cat person and a horse person and a camel person and a hermit crab person and basically an animals-in-general person. But right now I’m talking about dogs. So: Dog Person. I am the person that goes to a party and while the kids are in the playroom, and the adults are in the kitchen, I am on the floor making out with their dog. I can’t help it. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t have a dog. Everything from beagles to shih-tzus to boxers to labs to mutts. And I love them all. But it’s never been a secret that I hold a special place in my heart for golden retrievers.

I always thought they were great dogs, but it wasn’t until mr b and his golden, Cosmos, came into my life that they became the dog for me. The reasons I love goldens are many: they are intelligent & easily trained. They are friendly. They are loving. They are patient and gentle – even with high strung, noisy, tail-pulling children. They are not huge barking barkers (I get enough of that from The Barking Fucker next door). While not aggressive, they are good watchdogs. They are active. They are loyal. They are playful. They get along well with other dogs, cats, and pretty much any other living creature (even when they relentlessly pursue squirrels, they really only want to play with them).

After Cosmos died, we wanted to get another golden, but we didn’t for a couple reasons. For one, we didn’t have the kind of money to shell out for a purebred puppy. And we really wanted to help out a dog that already needed a home, rather than another breeder dog, anyway. So mr b came home one night with a little black lab mix (whose owner realized she couldn’t take care of him) who for 12 years both drove me absolutely insane and gave me much love and joy. He didn’t have the smarts of a golden, but he was a big love pig who pretty much wanted to wrap himself around my head like a turban and stay there forever. But despite the success we had with an adopted dog, when we decided to get a second dog, we knew it was time to get our version of the king of dogs – another golden retriever.

We found a reputable breeder, visited & chose him, brought him home & loved him through all his crazy puppy crying all night/pooping all over the place antics, and waited for the insane devil dog stage to pass so he could turn into the perfect dog that all goldens are.

Or so we thought.

All of those reasons we love goldens? Charley is pretty much not (most of) them. Seriously. Let’s see:

Easily trained: No – not even close. I mean, you can call him and call him and call him, but unless there is beef in your hand, he will sit there and look at you. Or ignore you completely. You remember Eddie Murphy talking about his childhood dog:

The dog don’t give a fuck cause he doesn't know his name. The dog is three years old, don’t know his name. Watch this. Cocoa? Where the fuck is he going?

That is Charley.

Intelligent: HAHAHAHAHA. Bless his heart, but there is nothing going on in that head. True Story.

Friendly: Ok, if you mean friendly as in “doesn’t hate you and want to rip your face off,” then sure – Charley is the friendliest guy around. But if you mean friendly as in “actually gives a shit that you are here, or not here, or – in fact – even alive, then forget it.

Patient and gentle: OK – he is patient and gentle. We can do pretty much anything to him – pull his tail, put clothes on him, brush his teeth – you name it, he takes it. But this has less to do with his patience and gentleness and more to do with his COMPLETE APATHY. He is the honey badger of dogs, as far as the not-giving-a-shit goes.

Not huge barking barkers: This one is true. He only occasionally barks – when he sees squirrels, other dogs (sometimes), or my asshole neighbor (which pleases me). I think this is also related to the aforementioned apathy. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind hearing his voice a little more, since he is going through that awkward teenage voice-cracking stage and it’s pretty funny.

Loyal: I can’t really comment on this one. I mean, there haven’t really been any opportunities for his loyalty to be tested. But I am skeptical. I think if I was trapped in a well & the guy who put me there had beef, there would be no heartwarming Lassie moment for me.
Get along well with other dogs, cats, and pretty much any other living creature: Also true. Also may be related to apathy.

Playful: Sure, in a lazy kind of way. Meaning you have to do most of the work. Unless there is a laser pointer around, in which case he will completely lose his shit. Or cat toys. He gets super playful with those. And by super playful, I mean, acts like a dick and takes the cat’s toys from her.

Loving: Oh, man – this is the one that gets me in the heart. My dog is not lovable! Actually, he’s lovable in the sense that I love him, but he is not lovable in the way that every other dog that has been in my life was lovable. He does not want to sit on me. Or lay on the couch with me. He doesn’t shove his head under my hand so I will pet him. He doesn’t follow me around (unless I have beef). He doesn’t get in bed with me. He tolerates being loved on for a very short time and pulls away from hugs. He doesn’t shove his way into groups of little girls, no matter how loud they’re squee-ing over the “sweet puppy.” The only time he acts even remotely happy to see us is when we first come in the door, and even then it’s 2 minutes of a happy-ish tail wag before getting back to his nap.

Recently, I googled “My dog hates love” to see if anyone else had the same problem and guess what? No results came up! NONE! I assume because a dog hating love is absolute nonsense that HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I am starting to suspect that he’s not a dog at all. He’s a cat in a dog suit.

Good thing I’m a cat person.

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