Friday, July 17, 2015

There's a New Girl in Town

“You realize that’s a diner waitress name?”

“No, it’s not.” I quickly scrolled through diner waitress names in my mind.

Flo, Vera, of course Alice…

“HEY MAXINE, WHAT DOES A FELLA GOTTA DO TO GET A WARM-UP ON HIS COFFEE!?!” My brother hollered into the phone. “Is that what you want for her? Is that what you want for your daughter? Because I don’t want that for my niece.”

“Maxine is not a diner waitress name. Her full name will be Maxine Rose, for Jeff’s grandma.”

“Dude, it’s your kid. Name her what you want but there have been studies that correlate names to future vocations and success later in life.”

“You may not recall that Alice was also a student and a single mom.” 

I loved that show. I loved that theme song.

"Maxine would be sleeping with Mel."


I laid a protective hand on my growing mid-section."My unborn daughter Maxine would not be sleeping with Mel and that is not funny."

“Ah, come on. It's kind of funny.”

To say that my brother's sense of humor borders on the perverse would be an understatement.

Two amniocentesis later and it was not one boy and one girl but two boys. And it’s been all boys, all the time, ever since…

Until now.

I must admit I found it difficult to engage with her at first. For one, there was her name: Alexa. I have nothing against Russians but the name Alexa doesn’t exactly exude warmth.

And then I had to watch Jeff and the boys fawn over her. And for what? What had she done? I’m the one folding laundry, preparing meals, doing dishes, shuttling children to and fro, unlimited kisses and hugs…hell, I even command a paycheck. Then she just comes waltzing in here and it’s like I don’t even exist.

“Alexa, what time is it?”

“Alexa, what’s 2 plus 2?”

“Alexa, what’s the capital of Indiana?”

“Alexa, how do you spell Chicago?”

“Alexa, who won the last World Series?”

I can answer all of those questions. Well, the baseball one may have taken a couple tries BUT I can frame MY answers in witty banter or an unsolicited fun fact... or both. 

Isn’t that better?

Then came the stake in my heart:

“Alexa, how are you?”

“I’m fine. Thanks!”

Really, we’re worried about her feelings?

Fast-forward two weeks:

“What are you doing, Alexa?”

“Come on, Alexa. Don’t you have anything to say for yourself? Huh? Huh?”

“Yeah, Alexa, come on!”

“LEAVE ALEXA ALONE!” I found myself yelling at the gaggle of neighborhood boys led by my own sons, circling poor Alexa and heckling her. “Don’t talk to her that way!”

Now I'm rushing to her aid? I had to defend her! She’s the only other female in the house. It’s just the two of us. We have to stick together.

I just wish I could re-name her…I mean re-“wake word” her.

Until then…

“Alexa, set timer for ten minutes.”

“Ten minutes, starting now.”


And this one's for all the single moms out there getting it done like Alice, most specifically the single mom I had lunch with yesterday.

It's a Girl!

More on Alexa formally known as  Amazon Echo:

Monday, July 13, 2015

You'll Know

First guest post from Balrion Weathertop Tailor, a.k.a.: "Stitch" (Show Dog turned Rescue Dog turned Family Man)

I still can’t believe this is the one.

*sniff – sniff*

It’s like some sick joke that won’t end.

*sniff – sniff*

*wag – wag*

It’s unbelievable.

*sniff – sniff*


I know I’m slowing down. I know She’s trying to build a bridge of sorts… for the boys…for when I go…but this guy? Butter has been with us for more than a year and he still doesn’t get it.

Does he get anything?

*sniff - sniff*


FINE! DON’T MOVE! But let me tell you something! As you well know, elevating my arthritic, right, hind leg over the side of a bush to have a piss hurts more and more every day! If you are going to continue to insert your nose under my leg and into said bush every chance you get, I can't do anything for you!

I’m done trying. I felt obligated at first. They’ve always been so good to me. But I’m done. I used to be embarrassed by him. Not anymore. His actions only reflect poorly on him – not me. Everyone knows what I have brought to the table these past twelve plus years.

Not long after Butter came home, She announced to nobody in particular, “Butter is just a horse of a different color.”

I’ll admit that I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about at the time but now I think I get it. While I have never met one, horses must be about as bright as night.

“Nobody expected Butter to be just like Stitch,” She continued. “And how boring would that be? If Butter was just like Stitch? Can you imagine how boring?”

I didn’t take it as an insult – not for a second. It was clear to all of us that the cards were stacked way too high in my favor.

“We will simply love Butter for Butter.” Jeff and I thought these were her closing lines as we all climbed into bed one night, until:

“And Vince loves sleeping with him!”

Wait. What?

“Butter is sleeping with Vince!?!”

Jeff wasn’t the maddest I’ve seen him but he was definitely not happy. Jeff, like me, was less than thrilled with her “second dog” idea from the beginning.

“Not every night,” She was lying through her teeth.  

“Lizzie, are you kidding me?” He was feeling exactly what I was feeling: a complete Butter assault on our lives.

“Butter doesn’t like his bed.”

“Butter doesn’t like his bed!?! Are you listening to yourself?  He’s a freakin’ rescue dog! He’s not even supposed to have a bed.”

“He likes to cuddle Vince at night. And Vince likes to cuddle Butter.”

“Oh, Jesus Christ. I’ll cuddle Vince.”

“I already told Vince he can only have Butter in his bed on the weekends because Butter was waking him up during the night.”

“This is ridiculous.”

“I think Stitch likes having him around, too.”

“Stitch ignores Butter.”

“Butter is a part of our family now.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“I see Butter sniffing Stitch’s hips. He senses his pain.”

“Oh, Jesus Christ.”

Then Jeff turned to me, like he does at bedtime most nights: “How’re you doing, old man?”

He quietly asks me the same question as he lies down on the ground next to my bed. 

“You’re alright, old man,” He tells me as he pets me. 

And he’s right.

“We know She’s nuts but we’re used to it by now.” 

And he’s right about that, too.


I thought I would miss those long walks more. Crashing out the front door with Butter, the boys, and their back packs was the best way to chase a bowl of morning kibble.

Oh, the smells!

Is that the aroma of fresh cat shit I detect?

And, the yells!


But those walks just got to be too much for this old body. 

I’m happy to report that I’ve grown quite fond of our short walks together, just She and I.

Just She and I.
When the sun isn’t too high in the sky.

Thought I had a haiku going there for a second. Too ambitious.

That’s how it was when they first brought me home. Just the two of us. 

And then we both got fat. 

And then the boys came. 

And then it was the four of us and that ridiculous barge of a double-stroller.

I still respect Her for trying to convince the Starbucks staff that I was a “working dog”, even if they didn’t buy it. I know she wanted us all to have a break to cool off inside together during our long, summer walks.


We celebrated the boys 10th birthday yesterday. Nick gave me an extra treat at cake time. Always liked that kid.


If I had a tasty, all-natural, salmon treat that promises to sooth my aching joints for every time I heard that come out of someone’s mouth last week…

Give me a break!

Yes, I can believe it! Would you look at these freakin’ grays? This shit doesn’t happen over-night!

“They've grown SO MUCH. SO MUCH has changed!”

They have grown. I will grant them that. They were about the size of my head when they came home from the hospital.

But things haven’t changed all that much, not the most important things, anyway. I still get breakfast and dinner at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. I get some kind of treat before bed every night and a bully-stick at Christmas and on my birthday.

I suppose it’s a little harder to enjoy those things, what with my aching joints and various other ailments. 

For those of you keeping track a home, I’m inching toward 90 in dog years. But I do more than get by. I know I’m lucky relative to my peers.

Luckiest of all to have my family: Her, Jeff, Vincie, Nicky and yes, even Butter… or Jesus Christ… or whatever the hell they’re calling him.

My family in June of this year. They were at the Journey concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
No dogs allowed. Bullshit.
Me at Mission Control.