This holiday season I find myself in a frame of mind to tell funny stories.
Deb and I got Fabius, a black Labrador retriever puppy, within a few months of buying the house. Most of you know that I wouldn’t willingly share my house with dogs if it were up to me. However, it’s not just up to me. Marriage means compromise or it means divorce. You can die on any hill you wish, but the problem with choosing a hill to die on is that you die there. One of life’s lessons is to learn which hills to live on rather than die.
I chose not to die on Doggy Hill. We got Fabius, who eventually grew into an 85-pound freight train of a dog with a tail like a police nightstick. If you wonder why the name, it is for Q. Fabius Maximus Verrocosus Cunctator (“Delayer”), Dictator of Rome. When we first got Fabius, he would not come on his leash at all, and I had to drag him until he got the idea: he delayed us a lot. Also, Fabius Maximus was a noble and brave Roman general who gave his all for his country, and would have given his life had it been needed. If we had to have a dog, I wanted him to see himself as Deb’s protector unto the grave.
Fabius has given us that, but he’s also given us a few other gifts he can have back. This story covers one such gift.
For whatever reason, in his middle years, Fabius was a puker. You’d find a large decoration of dog vomitus somewhere in the house, which was real bad for the carpet when his food contained kibbles colored red. Most of the time, this was Deb’s problem (that was our agreement: it’s her dog, she will handle the bulk of the care and cleanup). One night, it became my problem.
I tend to go to bed later than Deb, who insists that the dog must be permitted to sleep in our bedroom. She doesn’t mind the smell, which to me is worse than the Sunnyside feedlots. This means that when I come to bed, I’m making my way in the dark, my sense of smell overwhelmed by dog smell. I focus mostly on trying not to stick the square corner of a bedpost top into my thigh, which is very painful when you just want to lie down and go to sleep. I also react badly to sudden pains out of nowhere, simply because of a bad startle that’s been with me since my teens. Friends know not to come up behind me, for example.
So one night, I was groggy and ready to go to sleep. At that time, I did not happen to wear clothing to bed. I came into the bedroom, disrobed, and strode toward my side of the bed in the pitch darkness. All I cared about was avoiding a thigh injury. My bare foot splooshed into something cold, mushy and wet alongside the foot of the bed.
Before I could register my shock and disgust, I slipped in what felt like a square yard of dog vomit. I can’t even figure out where Fabius stored all that. The WHAM of my backside hitting the puddle coincided with the beginning of a yelled curse. I felt vomit splatter as I landed right in the middle of the stuff. Poor me, but poor Deb: awakened from deep sleep by bellowed husbandly profanity and a house-shaking impact, for I’m not a welterweight.
Of course, if she did not insist on having a dog, and did not insist that it be allowed to sleep in our bedroom, this would not have occurred. And in other fantasy worlds, if people would use their turn signals before changing lanes, a lot of accidents would not occur. We do not inhabit a fantasy world.
Deb jumped out of bed to assess the damage. There wasn’t any, except for painful bruising of my tranquility, buttocks and ego, and of course the need to get up and cleanse the carpet and surroundings of splattered dog ralph. I was not at my best husbandly composure and civility. In between vulgarities, I ordered her to clean up the offending substance and exile the dog to the kennel while I took a shower. I credit her for realizing that this was not the time for her to snarl “Don’t talk that way to me!” She kenneled Fabius and proceeded to deal with the present he had left.
I get a heavy adrenaline surge when startled, so I didn’t get to sleep easily. I didn’t laugh about it for several days. But I did learn that marital compromise does come with costs. The more important lesson was to step carefully going into the bedroom in the future.
Gods, but that was disgusting. Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
Postscript: just last night, marital compromise came full circle after all these years. I was indisposed, to put it delicately, atop the starship USS Sanitize. I heard a feminine yell of great, sudden dismay from the living room, penetrating walls and door. This is not a good moment, because while one will get up and rush to assistance if one must, one devoutly hopes the situation can safely wait for one to finish in an orderly manner.
“Are you all right, dear?” I yelled. No answer. Oh, damn. Louder: “Dear! Are you all right?”
From the vicinity of the hallway: “Yes. Leo just threw up all over me! He was just sitting there, and then he puked!”
That’s even worse than about three years ago, when she was on the floor sorting Christmas ornaments, and the insufferable little creature defaecated on the carpet–right next to her.
Now I’m worried it’ll be my turn soon.