Monday, October 29, 2012

Wedding Crashers

Ben and I went to a wedding on Saturday.  It’s been a long couple of months with the whole Mihiretu-kicking-Kingergarten’s-ass debacle so the twenty-four hours away from the kids, dressed in finery, was a welcome departure.

To celebrate his birthday, Ben took the day off on Friday and rode his bike.  For ten hours.  That’s his idea of a really good time.  He did indeed have a really good time but maybe 42 is the magic number because from Friday night on through the weekend he had tummy troubles and non-stop hiccups.  We arrived at the wedding looking good but in full diaphragm spasm.

We’re at a stage where we don’t know a lot of people getting married.  The year I turned thirty, forget about it, lots of weddings, but now it’s pretty much dried up.  We’re in a slump until the second marriages and weddings of offspring start happening.  That said, this particular wedding was a first for both bride and groom.  I don’t know them well but what I know I like an awful lot.  Clearly in love.  No question they have a happy future in front of them.  Those are the kind of weddings you want to go to.

The groom is a cyclist (I can’t get away from them) and so, in the ceremony, along with the customary oaths of mutual respect, death ‘til us part, etc, (all completely within this couple’s capabilities) she vowed “I promise to never get in between you and your bike.”  I muttered to myself, “Whoa, that’s a big promise.  Good luck with that one.”

The event was outside, the couple somehow landing on an eighty degree day at the end of October.  After the ceremony, as the crowd nibbled on crackers and brie, I found myself in the lucky position of chatting with the bride.  Like I said, I don’t know her well, so this was exciting.  In my giddiness, however, in my post-wedding, you’re-meant-for-each-other gush, I managed to gesticulate widely enough to karate-chop her wine glass from her newly bejeweled hand, sending it, and the red wine it held, smashing to the ground at her feet.  The crowd gasped, then seeing it was the bride with red wine splashed up her gown, mysteriously applauded.  Perhaps they thought it was on purpose?  Some sort of vaguely Jewish breaking of glass?  I learned later than everyone thought it was her that dropped the wine.  Criminally unjust.

I apologized, of course, profusely.  The bride was gracious, this woman is so poised it’d take more than red wine on her wedding dress to throw her off her game.  I told her that we were either going to be best friends from here forward or she was never going to talk to me again.  I fear the latter.

Later, much later, my hiccupping groom and I made our way back to our hotel.  At home we have a Tempurpedic mattress and so the hiccups of the previous night hadn’t really affected my sleep.  Here, however, we were on a standard mattress, on what turned out to be the equivalent of a bowl of Jello.  He’d hiccup, the bed would shake.  All night.

It’s kind of marriage in a nutshell, right?  You pledge to never get in between him and his bike.  You get red wine dumped on your white dress by a giggling acquaintance.  You go to bed on a jerking marital mattress.  If you’re lucky, that is, if you’re very, very lucky.

Monday, October 1, 2012


For the last year we’ve been thinking about getting a dog.  If you know me at all, you might think that was a very bad idea.  I’m fastidious; I don’t like to get my hands dirty if I don’t have to, there is nary a crumb on my floor, the bed is always made, the house generally looks ready for a Pottery Barn shoot at any given moment.  Plus, my life is chaotic.  I have three strong-willed children, the youngest possibly the loudest person ever created.

We have thought, though, that a dog would be good for the kids.  Mae is all about animals – I wouldn’t be surprised if she was a vet as an adult – and until very recently the only pets she had at her disposal were three chickens and an elusive black cat who spends the majority of his time outside on the prowl.  Lana, to be frank, doesn’t give a shit about animals beyond naming them but, here too, is an opportunity to broaden her experience, maybe teach her how rewarding a relationship with a pet can be.  And then there’s Mihiretu.  If ever there was a child that could benefit from the non-verbal, unconditional affection of a dog, it’s him.

Because of Mihiretu’s unique history and accompanying set of issues, we considered a service dog.  First we signed up with Guide Dogs for the Blind for a flunkee (they call them “career change” dogs) but these dogs, because of their breeding and temperament, are highly desirable.  We’ve been on that list for a year.  We also applied for a therapy dog from Canine Companions, a service dog non-profit.  We were on the third round of the application process before they decided that Mihiretu was not quite bad off enough to be a recipient.  So we got on their flunkee list, also a long one.

We debated getting a puppy but that just seemed crazy.  I really don’t need more misbehavior in my house.  My friend, Ann, almost conducted a puppy intervention when I broached the subject.

And so we’ve been waiting for the right situation, hoping for a mature, sweet, well-trained dog who will not be freaked out by the loudest boy in the world.  A couple of weeks ago I got a call from my friend, Lisa.  She was in Bolinas at a yard sale and the family running the sale happened to be retired dog breeders and they happened to have two beautiful dogs that needed homes.  Long story short, Lisa adopted one dog, we met the other and said we’d pick her up in a few days.

In those few days, I got cold feet.  The breeders said the dog was a “dominant female”.  What that meant, specific to this dog, I couldn’t really get to the bottom of.  The thought of procuring a four-year-old dog with behavior problems that I couldn’t change was daunting.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  We passed on the dog.

A week ago Saturday, I was, for the first time in a long time, doing errands without children.  I stopped at Anthropologie (my happy place) to return something.  Camped outside was the Milo Foundation, a non-profit that rescues animals from high-kill shelters and fosters them until they find homes.  There were ten dogs or so barking it up and one of them was magic.  I saw her and thought, uh oh.

Sunny is three months old.  She’s some sort of labradoodle with maybe a little something else mixed in.  So far, she is calm, she is sweet, she is trainable, she is tolerant. She has hair instead of fur, for god’s sake.   I love her with an intensity I could not have predicted.  She follows me around the house, gazing at me adoringly.  She whines when she can’t see me.  She sleeps next to my bed.  I had forgotten how uncomplicated the love of a dog is.  Humans, very complicated.  Mihiretu, extremely complicated. This pup, just sunlight.

I wanted a therapy dog.  I just didn’t realize I was the one who needed the therapy.