The premise of this column is rather simple: while most advice columns have readers submit their most convoluted personal tragedies, some of which I find to be nothing more than the apocryphal rants of desperate attention-mongers, and then the advice columnist gushes with humanity and proceeds to tell this perfect stranger how to live their life. This column, however, takes a rather dynamic approach to meting out advice which is, simply put, that I don’t. I have more problems before 8:00 am than the average person has in a whole lifetime, so I feel that a.) I am not in the position to give anyone advice, what with the precariously poised position my life teeters on at any given moment and b.) if anyone in this dynamic needs advice, it is me. Ask anyone that has dealt with me for more than five minutes and they will wholeheartedly agree with me…and then I will hate them forever for passing such crass judgments against my character. I mean, who the hell are they to be so judgmental? I’ve only known them for a little more than five minutes!
So, the way this works is, I will write about whatever problem I happen to be dealing with at that moment and you, the reader, will submit their well intentioned, sage like counsel, which I will, in turn, probably argue against, picking apart their suggestion point by point in the next column. While this may seem rather mean spirited and, at the end of the day, rather a huge waste of time for all involved if I am not even going to entertain taking the advice of perfect strangers, but it is the process and not the proffered guidance that helps people. You can read Freud, Nietzsche or Chicken Soup for the Soul until the tattered pages decay into dust and you won’t actually apply any of the answers that you may find there because you have not gone through the process of dealing with the problem. Slapping a bumper sticker philosophy across a problem and repeating it’s poetic phrases like some monosyllabic mantra will only mask the problem, lulling you into a false sense of security. You may feel as if you have conquered a world of pain by singing, Don’t Worry, Be Happy, thinking that it will sink into your subconscious, healing all your wounds, when all it will really do is allow your problem to ferment and foment in the shadows of evasion…and make you want to hitchhike to Hollywood and choke Bobby McFerrin with a bag of Lifesavers. In a nutshell, I guess what I am saying is that, regardless of whether or not I take the advice given, it opens up the process of realization and, by agreeing or arguing a point down, it allows each side to actually examine an issue and not just throw fortune cookie philosophies at it.
Well, I guess with all of the unnecessary preambles and attacks on modern psychobabble out of the way, let’s journey forward together, shall we?
I wondered which of the many issues that act as a roadblock on my synaptic superhighway I should tackle first. Well, since I actually sat down to write this yesterday, my epic weakness for succumbing to procrastination jumped right to the top of the list. Yesterday, I had thought about starting this column as I dropped my children off to school, trying to mold a frame together which later I would hang words and phrases off of. I had an adequate number of cigarettes on hand and a chilled two liter of Mountain Dew at the ready. As I turned on the computer, I remembered that I needed to do laundry, so I got up and grabbed my basket full of dirty clothes and headed for the basement. After almost careening headfirst down the steps because one of my little lethargic offspring had thrown a large, wet beach towel onto the steps. I went back upstairs fuming, entering the guilty child’s room to pee on his pillowcase so that he would reflect on the danger that his slothful deed could have caused. I learned that trick from my cat, who trained me not to accidently lock her in the garage with just two short sessions of this method. After getting the laundry started, I went back upstairs, only to find that my baby-mama’s Pomeranian had pulled out some of the stuffing from one of the couch cushions.
This could actually be a whole separate story in of itself, but since it has reared its furry little head into this story, it must be discussed. I didn’t want a dog in the first place. Dogs, in my opinion, are too needy. You have to work your whole schedule around a dog, making sure that you get home in time before your living room becomes a waste management way station. You have to adjust your leisure time activities to include the dog, which means that you get to watch others have a leisure time activity while you get your shoulder yanked out of socket trying to keep said dog from running in front of an ice cream truck.
This dog…this dog is nothing but a ball of fuzzy destruction. Anything that comes near its sharp toothed Alpo-hole is devoured instantly. It ate my middle son’s Blue Tooth, threw it up, then fought me as I tried to clean it up and he tried to re-eat it. It ate a whole can of my youngest son’s Play-Doh, which, while annoying, at least added a festive décor to the front yard when he pooped out merry little red dog logs just in time for Christmas. It ate a whole four foot length of hemp twine and then whined and cried while we had to pull the rest out of him because it only pooped out a foot and a half. We had brand new carpet laid in the living room just before Christmas and the dog chewed a hole through it. People have told me, ‘You have to train the poor little puppy!’ and then they turn to walk away and trip in the hole that the malevolent little creature dug…through the sidewalk! It dug a hole through a two inch thick brick paver!
It occurs to me in the wee hours of the morning as I hear him gnawing through his water bowl or dry-humping his little bed, that this could possibly be a terrorist tactic, aimed at dismantling the nuclear family, one torn pant leg and chewed shoe at a time. It makes perfect sense that there could be an Al Qaeda AKC splinter cell that is training dogs to masticate the American way of life. When I talk this way, people look at me as if I’m crazy and they look at the dog, which cocks its cute little head like Nipper, the RCA dog. I tell them that if he’s so cute and harmless, they should take him home, but they must subconsciously sense his insufferable evil rolling off his fur and decline in a flurry of excuses. One time at the drive through of the bank, and then I’m the bad guy because I suggested that I could send him through the vacuum tube to her. He’s small! He would have fit!
I’m the one being cruel? I have to be on guard constantly, ever vigilant for the muted chomping sounds coming from under the couch. He got in the habit of spending several hours under the bed, which I thought was fine because I knew where he was and he couldn’t get into too much trouble under there. This was what I thought, until one night at about three or four in the morning, I rolled over and the bed collapsed. The little bastard had chewed straight through the center board supporting the box springs! Our living room looks as if we can’t afford decorations and such because we had to strip it bare so that he couldn’t eat anything. He ate through three electrical cords and somehow did not get electrocuted. He ate through the cable wire. He ate through the X-Box controllers. He has eaten through five collars while I have had him chained up front and then run away…but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t show right back up!
I know I sound exceptionally cruel, but let me assure you that I have never mistreated an animal. I grew up with twenty-one cats, a flock of ducks, a beehive, two dogs and a snapping turtle named Herbie. All of my cats have been strays that I have rescued and they have all lived long, happy lives. I worked with my mom volunteering for several animal rescue groups and humanitarian networks…then the Devil’s dog comes along to test my humanitarian record.
Well, I started this column with all good intentions. I wanted to talk about my rampant ADHD and propensity for procrastination and that damned dog got in the way again! It’s like it’s chewing a hole through my brain, just like the carpet. I guess I’ll write the article about procrastination once I take care of the puppy problem. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow…or maybe the next day…