Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sneaking Up On Outrageous

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever considered doing?

I realize this is all relative to your own lifestyle. For my neighbor—let’s call him Gene—it might be putting a forbidden article in his garbage before rolling it down to the curb. For Lady Gaga it’s . . . it’s . . . Hmmmmmm. How can you possibly top wearing raw meat lingerie?

In the late eighties, I considered getting my ear pierced and sporting a gold ring hanging from one lobe. Several things stopped me. First of all, I’m a pain wuss. The idea of somebody shoving something pointy through any part of my face turns me into a quivering puddle of cowardice. Secondly my round face, chin and a half, and Brezhnev eyebrows don’t add up to a sucessful pirate or brooding artist look. Instead I’d come across as a remorseful Elmer Fudd after a cheap wine drunk. Finally, I kept manufacturing nightmare scenarios where fishermen would hook my earring while casting for spring Chinook and I’d be yanked into an icy river or my wife, miffed at some real or imagined transgression, might decide I looked like a 230-pound pull toy.

The earring idea, as you can imagine became a non-starter.

Today, in the shower room at the community center gym where I work out, I observed a guy with an amazing art gallery of tattoos. And before you ask, no, I was not staring at a naked man in the shower. I just happened to notice him while reaching for my oatmeal-hyacinth body wash. Anyhow, he had a three-masted sailing ship, a screaming eagle, a peace sign, a Star of David, a grove (not one or two, folks, an entire grove) of Pacific Cypress Trees, and caricatures of the entire starting lineup of the 1995 Seattle Mariners Baseball team. (Okay, I made that last part up. But he could have had them. He’d left the shower room before I could drop my body wash again.)

Carolyn and I have talked about getting tattoos. She wants a small and tasteful dragonfly on her ankle. I’d almost decided on a buffalo (the animal I feel most cosmically similar to), but now I’m not so sure. After the guy in the shower it feels, well, unimaginative. Maybe I’ll save my nickels and dimes and have a gifted artist stencil the opening dance number from West Side Story on my left gluteal. Or how about the poker-playing dogs from that famous black velvet painting? Or . . .

On the other hand maybe I’m not ready to do something that over-the -top. Perhaps I should ease into it a little. Write some poetry that doesn’t rhyme or order the 20-ounce white chocolate mocha instead of the 16 or show up at the 10-items-or-less line at the supermarket with 12 items. (11 wouldn’t make a bold enough statement).

Maybe Gene had the right idea. Let’s ease into this outrageousness thing. Start small and work our way up. Where’s that empty tuna can? I think I can just make this weeks garbage pickup. Oughta really honk off our neighborhood evangelical recyclers. Then I’ll work up my nerve to load my supermarket basket and clog the express aisle.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Max: Remember last summer when we had fleas?

Bubba: (Biting at her paw) Yeah, it was horrible all that itching and scratching. And every time I got comfortable, Mom came after me with the flea comb.

Max: Or Dad vacuumed the rugs and I had to bark at the vacuum. That thing’s like a dog-sucking monster.

Bubba: I have nightmares. And then Mom washed our beds.

Max: And Dad vacuumed the sofa cushions and I had to bark.

Bubba: And Mom gave us baths.

Max: Dad vacuumed behind the dresser and I had to bark.

Bubba: (Shuddering) And Mom slathered more flea stuff on us.

Max: Yeah. I hate that stuff. It burns. Plus all the little fleas are scurrying around screaming “Help me, Help me.”

Bubba: I thought that was you.

Max:  Nope, I’m way too manly for that. But you know what I figured out?

Bubba: That the house was cleaner than it had ever been?

Max: No. (Runs in a tight circle, then jumps in and lays a full lick tongue on Bubba’s nose) I figured out that Mom and Dad do a lot of stuff for us. They buy food and walk us and brush us and put those drops in your eye, and brush our teeth.

Bubba: And clean up after us. Like the other night when you ralphed on the bed.

Max: (Looking innocent) Must have been that carrot.

Bubba: That’s the ticket. Blame the carrot.

Max: Don’t get me started on what you did behind the chair.

Bubba: I got caught short. The sun was in my eyes. My rising sign was sinking into Venus. I—

Max: Try the carrot excuse, it worked for me. The point is, we should get them a present or something.

Bubba: With what? (growls accusingly) Have you been banking your biscuits?

Max. No, you’d find them and eat them, anyway. Besides, dog biscuits aren’t recognized as monetary units by financial institutions.

Bubba: (Sitting down and scratching forehead with her paw.) Whoa! Big words from a dog who hasn’t figured out what ‘Max come here’ or ‘Max get off Daddy’s chest’ means.

Max: Like you have room to talk, Miss Sits-In-The-Window-and-Barks-Her-Brains-Out-Even-After-Mom-Tells-Her-To-Stop.

Bubba: Hell-oh oh. It was a cat! On our lawn!

Max: Oh. A cat on the lawn. Well, excuuuse me.

Bubba: (turning and mumbling an aside) Secret cat sympathizer.

Max: (Running to get in front of her) But, see, the point is that Mom and Dad get all stressed out sometimes and sometimes we’re kind of not helping that, so we should do something nice for them or they might start thinking that we’re not worth the effort.

Bubba: (Gulps.) Much as I hate to admit you have a good idea, it might pay off to do something to distract them.

Max: I can dance.

Bubba: Not special. You do that all the time now.

Max: Jump through the hoop?

Bubba: (Yawning) Old hat.

Max: Look adorable?

Bubba: (Gagging) Been there, done that.

Max: Load the dishwasher.

Bubba: (Holding out paw) Really? Really? No opposable thumbs, remember, dufus?

Max:  Oh, yeah. The thumb thing. Oooh. Oooh. Oooh. I know what!

Bubba: What?

Max: It’s perfect. It distracts me every time.

Bubba: Not—?

Max: Yeah. It takes my mind off of everything. See next time Mom and Dad are stressed out I’ll just point to the back yard and yell—

Bubba: Squirrel!

Max: (Slams into glass sliding door) Where? Where?