At about 3:30 this morning, a shirtless Simon Cowell* and I were alone on his squash court and were thisclose to covering each other with brownie batter when I was awakened by a sudden pressure on my face and a violent shaking of my pillow. My eyeshades snapped open but the world stayed Sharpie black. I tried to sit up but couldn’t. The shakes continued…followed by a hack and a muffled bark.
Sigh. My dog, Pigpen, had apparently just decided to drop his entire body onto my head so he could tear through the pillow like Marc Summers had hidden an orange flag inside. Cheesed that his Physical Challenge had interrupted the one I’d planned for Simon, I shoved him off my forehead and toward the foot of the bed, a move that was met with a weak growl and, most likely, a mental note to fill one of my boots with partially-digested Pedigree later in the day.
I adjusted my pillow, plopped my head back down and immediately felt something sharp digging into my facebones. I bolted to the bathroom, flicked on the light and saw something small and white jutting out of my cheek. Jesus. Frankenberry. Christ. My precious little beast had dropped a baby tooth into my pillow and it was now EMBEDDED IN MY SKIN.
“Nice work, Douchecake”, I said to the puppy, who was still beaming like he’d presented me with the Hope Diamond and not something that had—just hours earlier—been used to pick up a dead bird. I flicked the tooth off my face, applied a bucket of Neosporin, and stomped back to bed for another few hours of sure-to-be-Simonless sleep.
Having a dog is a full-time, rock around the clock job**. The Pig is four months old and adorably misbehaved in that clumsy, puppy style. He hasn’t grown into his feet or his ears yet (much like Fresh Prince-era Will Smith) which makes it insanely hard to keep my Pissed Face*** on, even when he both tears the blinds down and devours them, giving me the opportunity to relive the incident one baggie of poop at a time. He also has a habit of greeting everyone—from my friend(s) to the Fed Ex guy to potential home invaders—by jumping up and enthusiastically pawing at their thighs, a behavior that won’t be as adorable when he grows to the size of, say, Christian Slater (who probably behaves the same way around strangers, nipping at their hands and demanding a script for Kuffs 2).
So I recently signed us up for Puppy Kindergarten, a Wednesday night commitment that was as much for my benefit as for his. In addition to getting Pigpen under control, I hoped that the class would contain at least one single and/or legally separated dude with an incontinent Airedale Terrier and a thing for scrawny girls with Thom Yorke haircuts. Our eyes would lock during loose leash walking, we'd share a laugh and by the end of the course, we'd be tangled together like a ventricle full of heartworms, the most romantic of parasitic nematodes****.
Anyway, for eight straight weeks, the Pig & I would roll into PetSmart to get our Westminster on, surrounded by squeaky toys, mattress-sized bags of puppy food, and...women. Walking into the pee and chew-deterrent scented*****training area, I saw nothing but girls, girls, girls. I did not anticipate this being a total egg carton and puh-raaaayed that all of the men were just a bit late. At ten till, a flannel wearing figure—and Neil Young lookalike—dropped a Dachshund into the ring. My head turned, but a second glance confirmed that Neil checked the "F" box too. The instructor (XX, of course) walked in behind her, locked the gate, and announced that the class was full.
Yeah, full of vajays. Welcome to Lilith Fur.
There are only five of us in the ring: Pigpen & me; a Sheltie named Robbie whose owner caressed him in a way that made me feel uncomfortable; Neil Young & a mini-Dachshund (aka a Cocktail Weiner); a dog composed of several different breeds, sort of like the Rock; and a four-month old Doberman named Oprah, a name that I found both disturbing and hilarious.******
The instructor was a small, stern-looking woman whose face gave the impression of a life lived at a grueling pace with rations set at bare bones. "What's the one thing you can do to a person that you shouldn't do to a dog?" she asked, by way of introduction.
We all stared at our animals and waited for the answer. "Kill them?" volunteered Neil Young as I reminded myself to both avoid eye contact with her and to park in a well-lit area. "HIT THEM!” shouted the instructor, “You never, ever hit them!” A visible look of relief crossed Robbie’s owner’s face.
The instructor handed out official PetSmart binders decorated with a photograph of a smiling woman shaking the paw of a well-groomed golden retriever. Oh, sure, her dog has good manners but her home is decorated like “The Best of Econo Lodge”. Nice sofa, you smug bitch.
We were also each given a clicker, a training device that, when you press it, makes a sound like you’ve cracked open a can of PBR, but without the cloying scent of hipster. You’re supposed to make this sound whenever the dog does something praiseworthy. We spent the remainder of the class acquainting the dog with the clicker. If you click and the dog looks at you, you have succeeded and you give him a treat. We were supposed to repeat this exercise for the next forty minutes, click and treat, click and treat. Pigpen and I got bored with each other, so we started rewarding other behaviors. Oprah tries to mount Robbie. Click. A child throws herself down in the ‘Cat’ aisle, demanding a plush bird. Click. Neil Young pulls at her crotch like it’s the string to a See-And-Say. The cow says CLICK.
We were dismissed with the promise that next week we’d be learning how to sit. Screw that. I paid $99 so Pigpen would learn to roll onto his back when I say “Show me your weiner”. Once that happens, we’ll sure as hell be the picture on next year’s PetSmart binder 'cause that beats the shit out of shaking hands.
Until then, I’ll settle for three hours of uninterrupted sleep. And another box of brownie batter.
*As I've said before:
I think Simon Cowell is smokin’ and if I ever bumped into him at Big Lots, I would totally try to seduce him. I read that he’s slept with 200 women but I’m unsure what kind of woman would stick around for the post-coital analysis where he’d wrap himself up in his (black) sheets and say something like, “That was absolutely dreadful. I would rather spend time alone with a jar of Noxema and some clothespins than to ever endure that again. You make me wish that at the 11th week of gestation, I’d developed a second X-chromosome so I would have never been sexually attracted to a malignancy like you.”** Yes, this is my only job, which would rock if I could use chewed up chair legs and empty bottles of carpet cleaner to pay my cable bill.
***My "Pissed Face" looks a lot like Larry King.
****That’s the way it would work in, like, a Drew Barrymore rom-com. Of course, she doesn’t have pores large enough to store her lawn furniture in, nor does she ever go out in public wearing pants that are stained with Pop Tart filling.
*****It smelled like Britney Spear's "Curious" perfume. And probably like Britney herself.
******The main reason I will continue to attend the class is because it is awesome to hear this woman shouting "No, Oprah, NO! Stop it Oprah! Off, Oprah OFF!". No, I don't get out often.