Thursday, December 13, 2012

Max and Bubba threaten work stoppage


By Max and Bubba

Max:  (jumping up on the sofa) Hey, wake up.

Bubba: (opening one eye) Huh . . . Wha . . .? Why?

Max: Because Mom says we sleep too much before bedtime and not enough at night. She says she’s exhausted because we keep getting her up to go outside with the flashlight and then just mill around till she lets us come back in.

Bubba: (closing the eye she opened) That would be my problem because . . . ?

Max: Because she might get really cranky and take her pillow into the guest room and close the door and not get up to give us our breakfast when it’s time.

Bubba: (opening both eyes) You had me at breakfast.

Max: Breakfast is good. (scratching his ear) It’s as good as dinner. In fact, it’s sorta-kinda-exactly like dinner. Only at the other end of the day.

Bubba: Use that brain often, do you?

Max: Nope. I don’t wanna wear it out. (checks out the window for a squirrel) So what are we gonna do? About sleeping at night?

Bubba: Well, whenever I wake up, I want to go outside, so you could stop waking me up by crawling under the bed and digging.

Max: Nope. Can’t stop that. There might be moles.

Bubba: Moles? In the carpet?

Max: You never know. Moles are sneaky.

Bubba: All right, then you could stop climbing over Dad and making him flop over and snore louder and wake me up.

Max: Sounds like you don’t want me to have any fun.

Bubba: Okay, then you could get more exercise before we go to bed. Chase your squeaky football down the stairs a hundred times.

Max: Booorrrrrinnnggg.

Bubba: Okay, then play that game where you run at the sofa and I growl at you and you jump back and spin in little circles.

Max: Also booorrrrinnnggg. You never get off the sofa and take your turn.

Bubba: Why should I? I have seniority.

Max: Seen Who Itty?

Bubba: I’m older than you are and I’ve lived here longer.

Max: Maybe that’s why Mom says you’re too set in your ways. She says there’s no good reason for you to get her up for breakfast when you do.

Bubba: No good reason? It’s 5:30 when I get her up. That’s when breakfast is supposed to happen.

Max: Mom thinks 6:30 would be better.

Bubba: 6:30? That’s practically noon. (standing and stamping her front feet) I won’t do it. I won’t even consider it. I’ll go on strike before I’ll give in to a ridiculous demand like that.

Max: (running in circles) Oh boy. If you’re going on strike, I’m going too. Okay? Okay? Okay? (stops and scratches his chin) What’s on strike?

Bubba: It’s when we refuse to do our jobs.

Max: We have jobs? Like Dad used to have before he retired?

Bubba: Sort of, only different. We take Mom and Dad on walks and clean up stuff they drop on the floor and sit on their laps and let them pet us and do stupid tricks.

Max: Got it. No more walks! No more eating off the floor. No more tricks! No more petting!

Bubba: (raising a paw) Lap dogs of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Max: Yeah. What you said. (sits and cocks his head) Um, except we don’t have chains, we have those plastic leashes. And, um, I’m kinda gonna miss the petting. (Looks out of the window) And the walks. Let’s not go on strike.

Bubba: Okay, so much for my Norma Rae impression. (curling up to go back to sleep) Don’t forget to wake me up at midnight for a trip to the back yard. Tonight could be the night we see a squirrel.

Max: (running for the door) Squirrel!?! Where?

Monday, November 26, 2012

What would Will do?

What Would Will Do?

by Mike Nettleton

 The great thing about having Thanksgiving come hard-on-the heels of a presidential election is not having to work very hard on our list of things to be thankful for.

  • No more slimy, fact-deprived, how-dumb-do-you-think-we-are-? campaign ads.
  • Ditto the presidential debates, which, face it, are just two extremely long campaign ads mooshed together.
  • The possibility that Texas may actually be allowed to secede from the union (Don’t let the door hit you in the Amarillo on your way out).
  • The election eve expression on Karl Rove’s face. Even if you voted for Mitt Romney, you gotta admit watching the smugness sand-blasted off Rove’s pudgy puss was priceless
  • The chance, albeit slim, that our elected officials may actually stop slinging political sewage at each other and come up with some common sense solutions to our nation’s problems.
 Yes, the final bullet-point is far-fetched but nowhere in the rules of thankfulness does it state you can’t be thankful for imaginary outcomes.

The presidential debates were predictable, unhelpful and, most importantly to the television networks, not very widely watched. I have a few suggestions to inject a little entertainment value into the 2016 debates and possibly even provide some information that could allow us to make a more informed decision.

  • Have a gigantic buzzer and floor-to-ceiling neon reader boards that would erupt when candidates bend the truth. They could flash sayings like: really? really?, your nose is growing, and you must be high!
  • Surprise guests could appear, ala the old “This Is Your Life,” T.V. show.  From behind a curtain a cheerful voice could say Barack, remember when we used liquid paper and an old Smith Corona to forge your birth certificate? Or, Mitt, how about the time we drove to Provo with a live hippo tied to the roof of your VW van?

  • Get somebody a little edgier to moderate the debates. Couldn’t you just see Robin Williams riffing on the candidate’s answers? Or tag-team hosting by Jon Stewart and Rush Limbaugh. It could get noisy, nasty and big funesque very quickly.

Finally, the insults the candidates throw at each other have gotten way too policy wonky. You know the ones: Unemployment during your administration rose by 7.89 decibels, multiplied the consumer price index. Or, My opponent believes lowering taxes on the rich will somehow spontaneously lead to a gravitational rise in the consumer index and eradication of acne. Blah, blah, blah.  But what if some of the exchanges went Shakespearean?

Candidate A:  My opponent believes in feeding orphans to wild dingoes on Christmas eve.

Candidate B:  Scurrilous fallydaddle, thou irksome, brawling, scolding pestilence!

Now the fireworks can commence.

Candidate A:   A fine and telling jest, thou base bleating spaniel. But I have invoked nettlesome sculldoggery that shall send smoke billowing from thy bulging codpiece!

Candidate B:  Quiet knave, or I shall thrust my pusillanimous  foundering phalanges into thy spongy sopping-dog innards!

By the way, if you’re frantically thumbing through your well-worn, college-era paperback of Twelfth Night, looking for the Shakespearean jargon I’ve invoked, chill. I took poetic license with much of it (Oh, okay, nearly all of it). In impeccable iambic pentameter, of course.

There’s a handy web site for any, (including aspiring presidential candidates) to construct their own handy-dandy Shakespearean insults. Just go to www.ariel.com.au/jokes/Shakespearean_Insults.html

Imagine the satisfaction you’ll get, the next time you’re standing behind the lout with two full shopping carts in the 11 items or less line, at shaking your finger and booming out for all in (your supermarket here) to hear;

Away, you mouldy rogue, away! Begone with you, thou  starveling, thou elf-skin, thou dried neat's tongue, you bull's pizzle, you stock-fish! O for breath to utter what is like thee! you tailor's-yard, you sheath, you bowcase; you vile standing-tuck!

This, by-the-by is actual Shakespearean text. But if that’s too much to remember, you could always fall back on the old reliable; Thou sucketh!

Wish as we might, we can’t avoid the next round of political posturing, finger-shaking and smirking. All we can do is remember the bard’s words. 

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dizzying Wake-up Call

Carolyn J. Rose

On October 27th, the earth tilted and spun.

At least it seemed to from where I was sitting. For the record, that was (thankfully) in the passenger seat as Mike drove down Main Street in Vancouver, Washington.

It took all my will power not to seize his arm when the street in front of us lifted and rippled and the car lurched from side to side. Somehow, while screaming, “Stop the car! Pull over!” I recognized that jerking his arm—and the steering wheel—would make things worse.

By the time he was able to pull into a parking lot—three to five seconds later—the vertigo had passed. I was shaking with jolts of adrenaline and anxiety, but my mind seemed clear.

I raised my hands above my head and asked Mike, “Can I smile with both sides of my mouth? Are both of my eyebrows going up? Is my speech slurred?”

Shook up and frightened, he didn’t seize the opportunity to mess with me, but gave me straight answers. Smile, eyebrows, and speech were normal. So far, so good. I didn’t feel sick to my stomach and when I got out of the car I was able to walk and keep to a straight line. I didn’t have pain in my chest or shortness of breath. Grateful to all the friends who forwarded bulletins listing warning signs and symptoms, I self-diagnosed that I hadn’t suffered a stroke or heart attack.

Mike wanted to take me to the urgent care center a few blocks away but I refused. Going to the doctor meant I was sick and things were out of my control. Going home meant I was in charge—or in denial.

We went home and, after resting for a few minutes, I logged on to the Internet and began entering my symptoms. Not the smartest thing for a person with an active imagination to do. Within an hour I diagnosed myself with heart and artery issues, dehydration, thyroid problems, and a brain tumor.

It was time to relinquish control to someone whose training was many levels above pointing and clicking.

Putting on clean underwear without any rips so my grandmother wouldn’t spend the rest of her afterlife in a state of impacted embarrassment, I went to the urgent care center.

Their diagnosis? Not a stroke. Not a heart attack. Not thyroid issues.

Rocks in my ears.

He’s been gone for nine years, but I can almost hear my father laughing and saying he always knew I had rocks in my head. No one ever accused him of being the sympathetic sort.

Among the many things I didn’t know about the human body is that tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear can fall out of their pouch and into a canal where they roll around and make the brain think the head is moving—in my case, moving like that of the girl in The Exorcist.

Because age is a factor in these “rock slides” and I may have other episodes, I’m armed with coping strategies like closing one eye, getting to the floor or ground as fast as I can, and taking precautions like going downstairs on my butt—not something I want to do in public. I’m also armed with medication to reduce nausea and an exercise/maneuver to try to move the rocks back where they belong.

The condition isn’t serious—at least not anywhere near as serious as the conditions I diagnosed myself with. Those few seconds of vertigo weren’t a near-death experience, but they made me think about THE END and how unexpected and terrifying it might be.

I got up the next morning making all the usual vows—be a kinder person, have more patience, don’t be as snarky and sarcastic, control my temper, and don’t waste time that could be spent writing. No more games of solitaire, no more rearranging the contents of the desk, no more (or at least fewer) trips to the kitchen in search of snacks.

And next time Mike says we should go to the urgent care center, I won’t argue and I won’t stop off at home to check the Internet. To play off an old saying, “She who diagnoses herself has a fool for a patient.”

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Take it or Leaf It
By Bubba and Max
Bubba: Hey, squirrel brain, warm up your pipes, Dad got something new we’re not supposed to bark at.

Max: Cool! What? A cat? A possum? Another vacuum cleaner?

Bubba: No, but you’re getting warm. It’s a leaf blower.

Max: A whatcher-whooser?

Bubba: A leaf blower. It’s a machine that blows leaves.

Max: He doesn’t need a machine, the wind does that.

Bubba: Yeah, but—

Max: And they go all into the street and over to the neighbor’s yard and then Mom doesn’t have to rake them.

Bubba: Yeah, but—

Max: And when they’re dry they kind of tumble across the lawn and Titan, that new dinky dog across the street barks at them ’cause he’s kind of dumb and he thinks they’re attacking him.

Bubba: Like you’ve never thought you were being attacked by leaves.

Max: Not this week, I haven’t.

Bubba: (consulting the calendar and placing her paw on a date) So 24 hours ago was last week?

Max: Okay, so maybe I barked at one yesterday. But it was scary. It was big and red.

Bubba: Red?

Max: Well, maybe. It’s fall and it was off the tree, so it musta been red.

Bubba: Or yellow. Or orange. Or brown. But you don’t see colors. You’re a dog.

Max: You sure I’m a dog? Mom says I think I’m the king of the world.

Bubba: (muttering) And one of these days I’m gonna crown you.

Max: Clown? Did you say clown? Want to see me dance in circles? And drool on myself. I’m really good at it.

Bubba: I wish you’d get good at leaving me alone.

Max: Know what else I’m good at?

Bubba: I know it’s not listening or keeping your brain train on the conversational track.

Max: (puts paws over ears while he thinks). Brain. Train. Track. Leaf blower. Yeah! (runs in circles barking) Where is it? Lemmee at it. I’ll bark it right back to the store where they bought it.

Bubba: (waggles paw at him) No, no, no. We’re not supposed to bark at it.

Max: Why not?

Bubba: Dad said so.

Max: Dad? Dad? Dad said so? (falling to the floor in a fit of laughter) He says not to sleep on his feet or on his pillow and I do it all the time. He says to come and I give him that blank stare thing.

Bubba: Something else you're good at.

Max: I practice in the mirror. 

Bubba: Why doesn't that surprise me? So you’re gonna bark at the leaf blower?

Max: You bet. Every time Dad turns it on. (he runs in a tight circle and yips) Just leaf the barking to me. Get it? Leaf? Leave?

Bubba: Yeah. But it’s time for my nap, so pleaf leaf me alone.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Cold #327

Carolyn J. Rose

When I woke up this morning, I had the weighted-down feeling that signals either it’s time to start a diet or I’m coming down with a cold. My head was clogged and my throat was sore, so I went with choice number two.

 By the time I got to the kitchen (estimated distance: 20 feet), the first sneeze rocked me back on my heels and I made a lunge for the box of tissues on top of the refrigerator. (You may think that’s an odd spot but, trust me, not a day passes that I don’t grab for that box after peeling onions, chopping jalapenos, grinding pepper, or running the duster across the blades of the ceiling fan. Okay, I admit, I haven’t done that last bit for months, but it has happened.)

A cup of scalding coffee made my throat feel marginally better and being upright took care of some of the head clog so, still sneezing, I headed for my office to do a little research.

When I was younger, someone told me there were several hundred cold viruses. For years I believed that if I continued to catch colds at an average rate of five a year, there might come a time when I would have caught them all.

Well, that bit of wisdom was WRONG.

At least according to the Internet.

One source cites more than 31,000 different cold viruses. Another contends that those viruses (virusi?) mutate constantly so the count is always changing, always rising.


Here I am, suffering with cold #327 (give or take a dozen or so), and knowing that somewhere out there virus #328 is lurking. It’s not a comforting thought.

But there’s nothing to do except prepare, make sure I have a stockpile of EVERYTHING I NEED TO SURVIVE THE COMMON COLD:

  • Tissues (definitely not the bargain brand—at least not for a cold that lasts more than two days, not if I don’t want a nose like that legendary reindeer)
  • Orange Juice (the high-pulp kind is almost a meal in itself)
  • Ginger Ale (that’s what I got when I was a kid and I’m sticking with it)
  • Cough Drops (preferably cherry flavored)
  • Chocolate (just because I always need chocolate)
  • Thermometer (even if the readout doesn’t go above 98.6, having a thermometer by the side of the bed says, “I’m sick. Honest. Why else would I be taking my temperature?”)
  • Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer (to hold in abeyance in case that readout creeps above 100 or I get the chills or my joints become more inflamed than this season’s political ads)
  • Books (preferably mysteries that hold my attention but don’t require too much concentration and/or deep thinking)
  • Movies (see books)
  • TV Remote (and husband to work the darn thing because our TV set-up is far from simple)
  • Dogs (to snuggle with prior to napping, after napping, or any time in between)
  • Pile of Pillows (a full range from soft to firm because when I’m sick, I get Goldilocks syndrome and it’s hard to find one that’s just right)
  • Soup (with plenty of noodles)
  • Mexican food (drowning in hot sauce)
  • Sympathetic friends (to send “poor baby” e-mails and offer to stop by with more chocolate)

How many colds have you had and what’s on your list of cold-survival must-haves or what do you think is missing from mine? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Mike Nettleton  

We arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland after a six hour flight from Newark, New Jersey. After our chatty cabby delivered us to the MacDonald Holyrood hotel at about nine-thirty Friday morning, we were politely informed our room wouldn't be ready until two in the afternoon, perhaps a "wee" earlier. (We later discovered that "wee" is an all purpose adjective to describe everything from breakfast to a brisk walk led by our tour guide. In his book, the Bataan Death march was a "wee" walk through the jungle.)

Jet-lagged to the brink of hallucination, we decided to wander up to the Royal Mile and see if moving our legs might get our brain neurons to resume firing.  After stumbling up a "wee" alleyway, we found ourselves at one end of a narrow medieval street that stretches uphill to the glory of Edinburgh castle. An amazing sight, with buildings that had stood on that spot since the fifteenth century. Not only that, but right at the point where we emerged from the alley I spotted a Starbucks. I'd always wondered where  Mary Queen of Scots and Robert the Bruce bought their morning half-caff, non-fat, white mocha, hold the whip, and now I knew.
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 We staggered around, peering in storefronts and at plaques alerting us to historical factoids like "On this spot Angus McGregor and his band of four sheepherders and a simpleton peat-moss-stacker held off six hundred Visigoths using only a trenching tool and a half-eaten haggis." Or words to that effect.  After an hour or so of sightseeing, we killed the rest of the time lounging in the hotel lobby, reading, dozing and mumbling incoherently to strangers unfortunate enough to wander in. 

To the hotel's credit, our room was ready prior to one. Warned that hitting the sack immediately was a sure-fire way to turn jet-lag into week-long zombie status, we held out until six-thirty, had a wee wee in the bathroom and collapsed. The next morning, after awakening at 3, 4, 5 and finally 6 a.m., I set off in the morning darkness to procure my morning half-caff, non-fat, white mocha, hold the whip, at the espresso joint on the Royal mile.

Understand, that for me, without a good cup of coffee, life, as we know it, ceases to exist. In the Northwest, where I live, you'd be hard pressed to drive three blocks without finding a drive-up or walk-in espresso stand. The running joke is that the only place left in the U.S. for Starbucks to build a new franchise is inside another Starbucks.

I arrived at the Edinburgh version at approximately 6:20 and twisted the doorknob with eagerness bordering on desperation. It didn't turn.
Sticky, I thought, and applied more force. No joy. Than I looked inside. No lights, no sounds, no sign of human activity. My worst suspicions were confirmed when I checked the "hours of operation" sign on the door.
Monday-Friday 7am. Saturday 7:30am, Sunday 8am. This being Saturday, I was facing more than an hour without caffeine.
I walked for half an hour up the Royal Mile, hoping against hope that some independent bakery or cafe might be open to sell me a cuppa. Not a chance. Finally, I returned to the hotel and bribed one of the waitresses in the restaurant to sell me a cup of regular hotel coffee to take up to the room.  It was like a crack addict settling for over-the-counter sinus medication. But it would have to do.

To be fair, once they were open, the Starbucks delivered decent coffee, much like you'd find in any of their seventy-million stores in the Portland-Vancouver area. The late opening times were not peculiar to Edinburgh. I twitched my way through coffee-less early mornings in  York, Ambleside, Liverpool, and London. How do these people jump start their Sunday if they have to wait til eight for their half-caff . . . you know?
The answer. They sleep later. Or, if up early, they brew a pot of the U.K.’s universal solvent, tea.  Coffee is not the fixation in the U.K. that it has become in the states. You'll find espresso in most of the scenic villages and even at some of the centuries-old castles in Scotland and England, but it's generally pre-fab swill. Not that I’m too proud to drink pre-fab swill in a pinch.

It all worked out in the end. The magic tour bus careened through narrow streets of scenic villages all over Scotland and England, taking us to castles and abbeys, foggy moors, seaside villages and the Bronte bedrooms. We ogled the crown jewels, watched a rehearsal at the Globe Theater, and rode the London Underground like veteran cockney commuters.  Our expedition to Scotland and England left us both exhilarated, exhausted, and reveling in the experience.

The only thing that would have made it better would have been a wee cup of half-caff, non-fat white mocha, hold the whip served up in time to get get the blood pumping. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Weight for it . . . Weight for it !!!

Weight for it . . . Weight for it!!!

Mike Nettleton
August 30, 2012

Some of my earliest memories involve shopping for school clothes with my mother in the “Husky Boys” department of the Golden Rule store in Coos Bay.

Husky, of course, is a code word for “Tubby.” my elementary school nickname. Later, when the little taunting hyenas became more sophisticated, a play on my unfortunate last name, Nettleton turned me into “Ton.”

Whether it was my depression-era parents insisting I clean my plate, a ravenous appetite for sweets, or sluggish metabolism, I always carried extra poundage. Sports and puberty changed my silhouette from tubby to chunky, but I never synched up to the ideal height-weight numbers at any point in my life.

Diets? You bet.
You name it, I’ve tried it.
A few of my faves.

  • The Women’s Alpine Ski Team Diet. I’m not sure how I stumbled onto this one, beings that I’m neither female, a skier, or inclined to yodel. All I can remember about this one is that it involved eating about ten eggs a day.

  • The Carb-crammers diet.  This one involves stuffing yourself with pasta, bread, other grains and little else.

  • The Carbs are the spawn-of-Satan diet.  This one promised you’d be struck by symbolic lightning if you even glanced at a bagel.

  • The Cattle Call Diet.  Meat. Lots of meat. Washed down with still more meat.

  • The Only Eat Food That Starts With The Letter Z Diet.  This was a challenge. I ran out of menu options after Ziti and Zucchini. Although, I will confess, in a hunger-driven rampage at a hockey game, I tried to devour a Zamboni.

Since I made my living as a morning radio personality (okay, disc-jockey if you must), I repeatedly got roped into becoming the spokesperson for companies who claimed their combination of pre-packaged food and magical “supplements” would draw the fat out of my body as if being inhaled by lard leeches attached to my skin. I, of course, could have refused to go along with this, but for several mitigating factors.

    1. It’s a drag listening to sales people whine about how I cost them a major commission. They had BMW payments to make.

    1. There was generally a generous talent fee involved and I always needed extra money.

    1. What the hell.  I needed to lose weight and it wasn’t the first time I’d put strange chemicals into my body. In many cases, I’d paid somebody else for the privilege.

So I’d do their program, give my listeners progress reports on how much weight I’d lost, and try to remain enthusiastic about the diet. I did lose weight with all of them, generally because their food was so repulsive I avoided most of it. You can drop a lot of pounds when you’re living on coffee and chemically enhanced tuna surprise.

What I didn’t treat the listeners to was the days and weeks after I’d reached my “goal.” when I rushed to gorge on all the great food I’d denied myself and packed the weight back on. 

One entertaining episode involve something we’ll call the Magic Mulch plan.  With the help of their “just add hot water.” packaged foods and a ton of time at the gym, I dropped fifty pounds in fifteen weeks. 

The mulch was a powdered drink you mixed up and drank 3-4 times a day. It contained some kind of chemical which threw your body’s electrolytes out of whack. As a result I would sit in hundred degree New Mexico heat and shiver as if strapped to a penguin.  Alternately, I could walk into a meat locker and sweat like a politician asked to produce his tax returns.

The entire time I took this stuff, I smelled like a toxic landfill. My future-former wife threatened to divorce me if I didn’t quit the plan.  Thankfully, I saw the light and stop huckstering for this particular client. And my ex had to find entirely different reasons to divorce me. It kept her busy and entertained for the next five years or so.

Here’s the best thing about being 63-almost-64 years old. I no longer diet. There a number of reasons for this:

·       I’ve learned to accept and even appreciate my body type. Maybe there’s a reason God, great kidder that he is, had me born into a family whose last name ends in “ton.” No matter what I do, that little roll at my waist isn’t going anywhere unless I figure out a way to stuff it into a box and Fed-Ex it to a distant island.

·       All of the wacky diets I’ve been on proved one thing to me. They don’t work. The only sane strategy is not eating like an anaconda trying to digest a rhinoceros and hitting the gym regularly.  Oh, and avoiding unfriendly mirrors and talking bathroom scales.

·       I can afford friendly mirrors.  Carnivals are shutting down across America everyday and selling their fun-house glass for next to nothing.

·       I recognize that I’ve used food as a mood-altering drug since childhood. After discovering how hard it was to keep a burrito lit, I ate them instead. Now, I try to approach food as fuel, not a hallucinogen.  My only remaining vices are coffee, procrastination, and dancing like a drunken mime to vintage Donna Summer songs.

Three final pieces of advice for those struggling with weight issues. First, realize, you’re in this life for the long run. Getting yourself healthy takes time. Second, don’t, I repeat, don’t, let anyone convince you they can “magically” help you lose weight. You may drop a bunch of pounds, but then you’ll find yourself, on a hot August afternoon, strapped to the penguin. And you’ll gain the weight back. Third. Try the Zamboni. It’s delicious this time of year.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

 Biscuits of the air variety

By Bubba and Max

Bubba: I gotta say that the air quality around here has improved since Mom and Dad took you for a ride the other day.

Max: (pretending to hunt for breakfast crumbs under the table) No idea what you’re talking about.

Bubba: I’m talking about the gas you were passing. It was strong enough to knock wasps out of the sky.

Max: Gas? Me? It’s all in your mind. I didn’t smell anything. (He wanders away and jumps onto the love seat.)

Bubba: I wish I hadn’t. (She follows and sprawls beside him.) And me without opposable thumbs to pinch my nose.

Max: Hey, it was so totally not my fault.

Bubba: And yet, it came directly out of your—

Max: La la la la la. Not listening.

Bubba: (under her breath) You never do.

Max: I heard that. Again, it was totally not my fault. Dr. Ferguson said it was a bunch of back . . . back something.

Bubba: Back seat? Like where we ride in the car?

Max: No.

Bubba: Back story? Like the stuff Mom and Dad talk about when they’re writing?

Max: Not that, either.

Bubba: Back yard? Where we go to do things we get yelled at for doing on the rug?

Max: Thinking. Thinking. Thinking—

Bubba: Careful, your head might explode.

Max: Back . . . back . . . back . . . bacteria. Yeah, bacteria. That’s the ticket. Blame it on the bacteria.

Bubba: ( Tone of skepticism) Bacteria? You’re making that up.

Max: No, huh, yeah. They crawled into my stomach. They’re real tiny. Itty-bitty.

Bubba: Smaller than kibble chunks?

Max: Way smaller.

Bubba: Smaller than the crumbs dad leaves on the couch when he eats?

Max: Way, way, smaller. Practically individual . . . induhvisual  . . . uh, really hard to spot.

Bubba: If they’re so small, how did Dr. Ferguson see them?

Max: He, um, he didn’t, um, actually see them. He, um, smelled them.

Bubba: Wow. He must have an amazing nose.

Max: Yeah, I guess he’s pretty good at smelling, but I helped out. Guess what I did. Guess. Guess.

Bubba: I’m not sure I want to know.

Max: Okay, then, I’ll tell you. You know how Dad always says “timing is everything”?

Bubba: Uh, yeah.

Max: Well, just as Dr. Ferguson was thinking it wasn’t bacteria and telling Mom maybe it was just anxiety—not that I’m anxious, you know, I’m just high strung being a pedigreed dog and all and—

Bubba: A nerve ending on legs. Get to the point.

Max: The point. The point. Okay, I’m on it. Getting to the point now. Just then I kind of, well, you know, I kind of—

Bubba: Played your butt trumpet? Ripped one? Cut the cheese?

Max: I floated an air biscuit. Just a little one. More of an air crouton.

Bubba: An air crouton.  Oooh-kay-fine.

Max: Dr. Ferguson called it “a diagnostic fart,” so there.

Bubba: That’s putting a positive spin on it.

Max:  No, it didn’t spin, it just kind of snuck out and hung there for a while.

Bubba:  So, did Dr. Ferguson give you something for the bacteria?

Max:  Yeah, some anti-bioptics.

Bubba:  Anti-biotics.

Max:  What you said. And Mom pokes the little pills down my throat twice a day.

Bubba: Have they helped?  (She nibbles at the bare spot on her back fur.)

Max:  Yep.  It’s been an air-biscuit free zone for two days now. But I still like to have a little fun with Dad.

Bubba:  A doggy practical joke? I love those. What?

Max:  You know how I like to crawl up on the bed in the middle of the night so my rear end is kind right opposite his face?

Bubba:  Uh-huhn.

Max:  I make this little sound with my lips (He makes a soft pfffft noise.)

Bubba: LOL!!!

Max: Who knew a big guy like Dad could levitate off the bed like that?