So, quick recap – One of my guy friends picked up my future husband, Cap’n Firepants, in a bar, the Cap’n doesn’t find the Barry Manilow song Copacabana even mildly heart-wrenching, and he decided to ask me out on our first date so he could shut me up.
For our first date, the Cap’n and I went to see the Jodie Foster movie, Contact. Well, first we went to dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack. Back then, Joe’s was a new place in town, the first restaurant in what would later become an enormous shopping complex built in a former quarry. I don’t think I ate crabs, but I liked the alliteration in the post title. Plus, Cap’n Firepants told me I shouldn’t put that word because it has other connotations, but anyone who thinks that I am that sort of girl really doesn’t know me. So, sue me.
The Cap’n was pretty quiet during our dinner. This, I have come to learn, is one of his simultaneously endearing and exasperating character traits. But I talked enough for the two of us. No one has ever accused me of being too quiet, unfortunately.
After dinner and the movie, the Cap’n drove me back to the duplex where I lived.
Fairly certain that he was not a serial killer, though my judgement has been known to be questionable, I invited the Cap’n into my duplex for a drink.
When we entered, my dog – a chow/german shepherd mix – immediately lunged for the Cap’n’s throat in what can only be described as an attempt to eviscerate him on the spot.
I quickly pulled the dog off before skin was broken and blood shed, and I attempted to persuade the Cap’n that I could somehow control this Beast from Hell. But my tight grip on the dog’s collar did not seem to quell the canine’s desire to tear out the Cap’n’s throat. Wisely, the Cap’n decided that this would be a good time to call it a night.
I closed the door, threw myself on the sofa, and wept as my dog licked my hair, assuring me that he would never let another nasty male enter our household again. I was pretty certain that my relationship with Cap’n Firepants and pretty much anyone of the opposite sex would not be happening. Ever.
The next day, the Cap’n sent me roses.
In the ensuing weeks and months, he was able to win not only my heart, but the Hellhound’s heart as well.
Little did the Cap’n know that was ill preparation for the monster who would be the ultimate test of our love for each other about 13 years later – Wonderbutt.
Wonderbutt, the Destructive Bulldog, has been very uncooperative lately. Which means that he has been very well-behaved. Which is very disappointing when you have pledged to write a blog post every day and you have run out of anything remotely interesting to say.
The other day, I had forgotten that I had granted Wonderbutt limited access to the Forbidden Section. I realized while I was typing on my computer that he was not in his usual spot sprawled out next to me. My heart sunk, realizing that I had left my favorite pair of shoes on the closet floor, and probably the door was open.
I ran into the bedroom, and Wonderbutt looked up in surprise from his prey – a chew toy. Meant for dogs. To chew on. I’m afraid the poor guy is losing his edge.
The entire family was certain that we would have a great story to tell after the night of July 4th. Considering that Mrs. P.I.B., our Golden Oldie, is even more afraid of firecrackers than she is of thunder, we all figured that it was inevitable that she would break out of the Kitchen Corral while we were gone searching for a free firework show. Wonderbutt was in the Corral with her, so we all pictured Mrs. P.I.B. making a break for it out of panic, and Wonderbutt following behind in glee, eager to destroy.
Once we were out of the house, I realized that I had not even remembered to put a baby gate in the hall to close off the Forbidden Section – meaning that Wonderbutt would have free reign if Mrs. P.I.B. succeeded in her jailbreak. I mentioned this to the family, and we all agreed that it had been awhile since Wonderbutt had wreaked havoc, and maybe I would have some good pictures of the destruction to post. Cap’n Firepants did mumble something about “how much money this will cost us,” but I think that even he recognized that our
boring streak has gone on for far too long. Plus, the more I have to write about Wonderbutt, the less Cap’n Firepants gets featured on this blog.
Alas, we arrived home and both dogs were still firmly esconced in the Kitchen Corral. I vaguely entertained the idea of throwing something into the Corral for Wonderbutt to chew up. But, so far, I have resisted making our household into a scripted reality show.
In summary, Wonderbutt has become disappointingly disinterested in decimating our domicile. Now I know how San Antonio weather reporters feel.
On most nights, the routine goes like this: read to Dimples, check a few e-mails, then travel down the long hall to the living room for my daily dose of The Daily Show.
As soon as I cross over from the Forbidden Section, Wonderbutt (who is usually forlornly sprawled as close to the border as possible) perks up and follows me to the living room. I settle myself into our big old leather chair, and Wonderbutt places himself on the floor directly in front of me, and whimpers a couple of times. When he first started this, I thought he was angling for an invitation to join me on the chair. (Which is silly, because it’s the one piece of furniture on which he has always been allowed.) Under this erroneous assumption, I would pat the space beside me several times. Eventually, he would leap up, and make himself comfortable, sometimes resting his head in my lap, but oftentimes stretching out on his stomach and kicking me squarely in the crotch. Fortunately, I am female, so crotch kicks are not quite detrimental to my health. Also, fortunately, like Wonderbutt, the chair is oversized. With a little manipulation, we both fit on it quite well. In a matter of minutes, I am turning up the television so I can hear Jon Stewart over Wonderbutt’s snores.
One day, I realized that he only demands an invitation when I am on the side of the chair closest to the end table. (Wonderbutt, not Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart is invited to share the chair any time he chooses.) If I am on the other side of the chair, the dog hops right up with no hesitation. I tested out this theory and, sure enough, right side – whimper, left side – immediate leap. So, it seemed that the whimper was not a “Please, may I sit with you?” request, but a “Get the Heck off my side of the chair” rebuke.
Being the troublemaker that I am, I decided that, from now on, I would always sit on the right side. I needed to prove who is boss, after all.
Last night, I finished reading to Dimples and wandered out to the living room, fully prepared to engage in the nightly ritual of “allowing” Wonderbutt to settle on the less desirable side of the chair.
And, there was Wonderbutt, already fully esconced on the chair. Pretty much taking up the entire space, but quite obviously occupying the right side, his declared favorite, with no room for me. His head leaning on the arm rest, and his tongue sticking out in what I’m pretty sure was an “F you” expression when combined with the look in his eyes.
Wonderbutt has no doubt about who’s the boss. It appears that I underestimated my opponent. Again.
It has been awhile since I have shared a home with a persistently Obsessive Compulsive Dog, but our bulldog is quickly reacquainting me with the fine points of dealing with an O.C.D. Not to stereotype or anything, but every O.C.D. that has lived in our household has been male; we’ve even hosted an O.C.C. (Obsessive Compulsive Cat) – who also happened to be male. I don’t really know what this means, scientifically, but our track record is definitely not good.
Our current O.C.D., Wonderbutt, has recently developed a fixation on a ball. The kind you roll. (If this is not why you are reading this post, I am sorry to have disappointed you.) Anyway, this ball was originally purchased for Mrs. P.I.B., our 11 year old Golden Retriever, as Wonderbutt kept ramming her in the side of the mouth to steal her tennis ball – even if he already had an identical tennis ball in his mouth. In a shocking turn of events, it turned out that Wonderbutt much preferred the new super-duper rubberish ball, and Mrs. P.I.B. was more than happy to stick with the stinky, old tennis ball that Wonderbutt now spurns. Everybody’s happy, right?
If you know the Firepants Family, and I think you do, you know that there are precious few moments when everyone is simultaneously happy.
Wonderbutt loved the new ball so much, we worried that he would give it the kind of attention that he gives all of the objects that he adores – endless licking that evolves into chewing and, before you know it, there are tiny pieces everywhere and it’s a miracle the dog hasn’t choked.
So, we rationed his time with the ball. We would play with him until he sprawled out on his stomach, panting, and then gently remove the ball from his jaws and put it somewhere out of his view and reach.
Wonderbutt did not like this routine. So, one day, instead of bringing the ball back to us, he started racing around the house with it. My daughter, Dimples, was happy to comply with this new game, chasing him until they were both out of breath. But, we still got the ball in the end.
The other day, Wonderbutt led Dimples on a merry chase around the kitchen table, and then blasted through his dog door to his outside pen. The Poop Pen. I am fine if he brings a toy out to his Poop Pen. But, as far as I am concerned, that should be a one-way ticket. No toy returns allowed from the Poop Pen.
This ball, however, was an exception. It had outlasted any other toy Wonderbutt has ever owned, and I didn’t want to sacrifice it to the Poop Pen. So, we coaxed him to bring the darn ball back in, washed it off, and put it away for a couple of days.
Wonderbutt is like an elephant, though. In more ways than one. From then on, as soon as he got hold of the ball, he would race with it to the Poop Pen.
Dimples got the brilliant idea of closing the dog door during a play session one afternoon. It really was smart – until she forgot that she had closed it, and wandered off to do other important things.
Concrete floors are very slippery when wet. And Moms who slip and slide on concrete floors are very upset.
Sometimes I think, “I am a human being. No dog is going to outsmart me.”
Then I go outside and clean the Poop Pen.
It is Fiesta season here in San Antonio. Our cousin, Mr. Globetrotter, was visiting from Houston this weekend, and asked, “What exactly is Fiesta?” Everyone – okay, it was only 3 people, but I still felt a lot of pressure – looked at me. Not because I am particularly smart. I just happen to be the person who has lived in San Antonio the longest out of the four people who were in the room. Which, apparently, gives me no special powers, as I quite honestly had to say, “I have no idea.”
Here is what I do know about Fiesta:
It is approximately 10 days of parties and parades.
We get off school on Friday for a “Battle of Flowers Parade” – which no one I know actually attends.
When I was in college, my sorority worked at one of the Fiesta events. I volunteered to sell tickets. We were locked in a wooden booth about 9 square feet to keep us “safe”. One night, we were told to stop selling tickets because there were too many people inside. When we announced that we could not sell any more tickets, one not-so-congenial drunk threatened to set fire to our booth with his lighter. I can pretty much trace my fear of being confined to that one intoxicated pyromaniac.
If you are younger than 10, your favorite part of Fiesta is the cascarones, the hollow eggs filled with confetti. It is customary to break these open over someone’s head. Many people do not understand that you are not actually supposed to use the person’s head to crack the egg. Hence, there are many people walking around with concussions and multicolored circles falling out of their hair.
If you like crowds of people stumbling into you with towers of beer cups, Fiesta events are the place to go.
If you like live music, Fiesta events are not the place to go – unless you also happen to enjoy crowds of people stumbling into you with towers of beer cups while you are trying to listen to good music.
If you like stumbling around with towers of beer cups, it’s probably best if you don’t attend the River Parade, where your chances of stepping off the sidewalk into 6 feet of water is increased by 10 for each beer cup you have in your stack.
As you can probably tell, I am not sold on the whole Fiesta extravaganza. Other than the day off from school, I am pretty ambivalent about this city-wide event. It’s fun to see everyone in a good mood. But, I can’t imagine why parades, drunks, and excess amounts of fattening food do not excite me.
After all, I moved here from New Orleans.
Why do we put up with the Willful Ways of Wonderbutt? I often ask myself that question. Particularly at moments like this:
Wonderbutt is certainly not the only one in the household who behaves strangely. Perhaps you have lived with pets that do not suffer from any sort of psychological disturbances. I have never had that pleasure. It’s entirely possible that I am the reason for each one’s idiosyncrasies. So, I partly suffer their insanity out of guilt. But, I have to say that, 99% of the time they give me joy. And that makes it all worthwhile. And makes me both remorseful and greedy.
Today, I arrived home to one dog – Wonderbutt. I am normally greeted by two. My first thought was that Cap’n Firepants might have accidentally locked Mrs. P.I.B. outside this morning when he left for work. My second thought, which was probably a bit unfair to Wonderbutt, was that our overly boisterous bulldog had given our sweet 11 year old Golden Retriever a heart-attack.
But Wonderbutt, the Tattle No-Tail, quickly led me to the hallway, where I found this:
It briefly stormed today, inspiring Mrs. P.I.B. to storm the gate to the Forbidden Section. Although brave enough to leap over it once, Mrs. P.I.B.’s fear of repeating such a hazardous undertaking trapped her in the hallway.
Since we had prudently closed all hallway doors this morning, knowing there was a chance of rain, Wonderbutt saw no benefit in taking the risk, himself, and, in an unusual turn of events, became the Good Dog.
Mrs. P.I.B. panted exaggeratedly on the other side of the gate, despite the fact that the storm had passed long before and there was absolutely no threat to her well-being other than herself.
I took pity, and moved the gate, allowing Wonderbutt to barrel through to the Forbidden Section while Mrs. P.I.B. jumped over him to get out. On the other side, she seemed to reconsider this decision, particularly when she saw how delighted Wonderbutt was to replace her.
I set the gate aside, and allowed them to both romp beside me while I made my way to the computer. As soon as I was seated, Wonderbutt plopped down on the floor beside me, and Mrs. P.I.B. curled up in the hall. They both put their heads down and went to sleep.
When you realize that you have the power to bring contentment to two living beings with your mere presence, it gives you a certain sense of worth. And, believe it or not, that is far more valuable than a smelly old couch with lumpy cushions.
I guess we will find out in about another month how it compares to a brand new couch and a husband who is nearing the end of his tether…
Yesterday, I picked up Dimples from her after-school care, which happens to take place in her school cafeteria, and drove the ten blocks home.
When I stopped the car in the driveway, Dimples said, “I have a Safety Patrol meeting at 5.” In the school cafeteria. It was 4:40.
After we spent a couple of minutes arguing in the car about whether she had ever mentioned this meeting to me (she says she did, and I forgot – which I’m pretty sure is true), and why she could not have reminded me this morning or, at the very least, before we pulled out of her school parking lot, we went inside the house.
Wonderbutt was, as usual, quite enthusiastic about our arrival. He had managed to pull two cushions off the couch, and was proud to show off his accomplishment.
After I made a hasty bathroom visit to “freshen up” and Dimples gobbled down a quick snack, we did a u-turn out the door – leaving behind a completely befuddled bulldog.
When we arrived at the meeting, I sidled up to the Patrol sponsor to find out how long we would be there. I knew Wonderbutt was not going to be pleased with our sudden entrance and exit, and I was pretty sure that leaving him alone for an hour would have disastrous results. The sponsor assured me that it would be 20 minutes.
It was 15. Feeling slightly encouraged by this unusually short meeting, and only somewhat put-out that I had wasted my time over-transporting Dimples, I drove us both quickly home.
“He’s not barking at us!” Dimples said, happily, when our feet hit the porch. To her, this was a good sign. To me, this meant he was far too busy doing dastardly deeds.
Sure enough, we entered the house to find shredded newspaper in every nook and cranny.
“Where did it come from?” Dimples asked in astonishment.
I walked into the kitchen. The pantry door was wide open. Inside our pantry are the recycling bins. Mystery solved.
Except – who had left the pantry door open? Surely not the person who, months ago, firmly taped this sign on the door…
Oh, and we keep snacks in the pantry. Like the one Dimples ate right before we left for the Patrol meeting.
“Oops,” said Dimples. Without a word, she began to pick up the mess.
Today’s score: Dimples- 1, Mom – 1 (thanks to Wonderbutt )