Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Dog Named Travis

My first meeting with Travis
I was exhausted. After a full day of work all I wanted to do was go home and fall into a vodka induced coma, something I had only heard about but never aspired towards. But as I was walking past the pet store I stopped. Something told me to step inside and take a peek at the puppies. And there was this one, the cutest baby husky you ever did see, that made me question whether an alcoholic stupor was all it was cracked up to be. I smiled. Not in an I-can't-live-without-him kind of way, but just enough to ask the man behind the counter how much he was.

Without answering my query, the pet store guy--a slightly greasy man who I'll name Serge--asked me to step into one of the back rooms telling me he would bring the husky to me. Then, when the blue-eyed bundle of fluff was in my arms, Serge whipped out an Instamatic and snapped our picture. After flapping it about for the allotted amount of time, Serge then handed the partially developed, somewhat-still-damp photo and declared, "See how good the two of you look together?"

That smarmy asshole! I wonder how many dickheads have been suckered in by this obvious ploy.

It's a horrible picture. Oh, sure, the dog photographed well, but I look like I could use a deep tissue massage with a happy ending. But stubble and Jew fro aside, Serge was right, we do look like we belong together.

Every logical part of my being screamed to put the puppy down and get out of there. I knew Serge was a shyster and would charge me an arm and a leg while telling me what a great deal I was getting. I knew the dog was probably born in some puppy mill in the backwoods of Minnesota next to a moonshine distillery, or somewhere equally dubious. I knew my busy New York life didn't have room to properly raise and care for a puppy, no matter how fetchingly beautiful his eyes were.

Yes, that's what my brain told me, but I chose to listen to my heart instead and whipped out the plastic. Serge's technique worked like a charm and I became a dickhead of the highest order. When I left that Astoria, Queens pet store not only did I have a puppy secured in a cardboard box, but I also managed to rack up even more debt.

That was fifteen years ago.

For the first week he was with me I called him Clancy. But for some reason that didn't feel quite right, so I was always on the lookout for the perfect name. Out of the blue "Travis" came to me. I racked my brain to find "Travis" references. The only thing I came up with was the Levi's 501 ad for women, where the cowgirl, who starts out lounging in a car in the classic James Dean pose, stands up and yells, "Travis, you're a year too late." I still don't know what that means, but enigmatic message aside, take a gander at my handsome husky's face...definitely a Travis.

Early on, Travis let it be known that his spot was at my feet. Whether at the computer or watching TV, Travis's routine has been to nudge my legs apart and settle in.

My biggest success with Travis was that I trained him to walk off leash, and from what I understand, that isn't easy to teach huskies, who are bred to run ahead without looking back. But Travis always looked back, always kept tabs on where I was.

Travis and I accepting Michael into the pack
Six months after Travis entered my life, Michael came along, and Travis was obliging and allowed Michael to stay. When we moved to Los Angeles, I saw first hand how big Travis's heart can be. First, he had to welcome our second dog, Cosmo (also named Clancy for about a week...I don't know how I know this, but I'm destined to have a dog named Clancy at some point in my life). Then when Michael and I started the adopting children, Travis graciously accepted Thing 1 and Thing 2, who have systematically pulled, prodded and pulverized his tail, his ears and pretty much every orifice without uttering one bark of complaint.

If I feel guilt about anything it's that over the years, as life has gotten more complicated, Travis has received less and less affection. But no matter how busy I've gotten, Travis has remained faithful and loving, maintaining his spot at my feet.

About a year and a half ago, Travis let it be known that he didn't want to sleep outside anymore. This was a big deal for a dog who loved outdoor weather, the more inclement the better. His sight and hearing started deteriorating shortly after that. Now, it's harder for him to get up and down stairs, and Travis distrusts the wood flooring we have in our house, and only goes into the kitchen with its slate floors and our dining room which has a rug. Travis has had four or five seizures that I know of. He falls to the ground, voids his bladder and shakes uncontrollably. It was after one of these seizures that I told the children that Travis wasn't going to be with us too much longer. That was two years ago and Travis is still here.

He's been bleeding from his mouth recently, and when last week I searched for the source I felt a mass at his gum line. We took him to the vet and it turns out Travis has cancer, a golf ball sized lump grows under his tongue. He's in no pain, but the doctor wanted to euthanize him immediately, saying the growth was metathesizing at a rapid rate and he will eventually have a hard time eating and breathing. And even though Travis is the equivalent of a 95 year old, I decided against the vet's recommendation. I want Travis to be at home when he goes.

After such dire news, I expected to witness Travis's failing health during this past week, but quite the contrary, he's his old self. His eyes still light up for suppertime, he's been more social with Cosmo and the kids, and he's even attempted a happy dance or two.

I may have him only a couple more days--maybe a couple more weeks--but when the time does come, I don't intend to write about it. I'd rather marvel at the life force that is Travis, from the blue-eyed puppy in a box to the distinguished family pet he is now.

My old man today
There's my good boy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Don't Dog the Penis

Reading the newspaper today, my husband came across a Los Angeles Times article in which the Parents Television Council, a conservative watchdog group, has been counting the number of times penis and vagina have been used in network prime time television. The usage of these words, we are told, has escalated dramatically over the past ten years, which prompted PTC president, Tim Winter, to say, "It's a broader reflection of the progression of raunch."

The progression of raunch? The utterances of penis and vagina from our lips is raunch? Now, I don't know about other parents, but in our house we don't use the colloquial pee pee and va jay jay. We labels it as we sees it. It's big p and capital v all the way. Consequently, penis and vagina are said quite frequently, and as the children have gotten older these two choice anatomical sobriquets have only gained momentum, quite possibly making ours the house Tim Winter would say is the raunchiest in America.

Trust me, penis is a better choice than what I was raised with...my mother taught me to call my member a do do. That's right, do do like the opposite of don't don't. And aside from assigning it asinine nomenclature, my mother discouraged us from discussing it or anything else below the belt line...ever. I have two younger sisters and yet don't remember the word vagina being spoken by anyone at any time. I can only imagine what euphemism Mom chose for them. Cupcake? Pussy willow? Lock box?

I imagine my little family is even more free and easy saying penis because it's part of my work. Mommy with a Wee-Wee just wouldn't sound as...substantial.

Which reminds me, a few years back, I did a Mother's Day show called Momilicious or Mompalooza or something like that, and in it I got to work with Laraine Newman and Caroline Aaron. To promote the show we did a radio spot reading our pieces. We had to tweak them, taking out curse words and salacious subject matter, to fit with FCC regulations, but that didn't bother me one bit because I remember thinking how I had made it.

People will hear me read and flock to my blog. Laraine Newman, for God's sake! SNL royalty. I've hit the big time.

I remember how excited I was when I turned on the radio and heard my voice coming over the airwaves. The host, Wendy Hammers, introduced me, telling the listeners that I had a blog called "Mommy with a beeeeeeeeep." 

What the fuck!

She continued, "And you can find Hutch's blog at double-u double-u double-u dot mommy with a beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep dot blogspot dot com."

No. No. No. Noooooooooooooooo!

I was crestfallen as I watched fickle fame and flimsy fortune slip fortuitously out of my hands.

The shows that PTC have cited to use penis and vagina most frequently are 2 Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men, 30 Rock, The Office, American Dad, Family Guy and Grey's Anatomy. OK, PTC may have a point, some of those shows bleep even my raunchiness meter. But their word usage is the least of my worries, it's the content that parents should be concerned about.

Now, I personally love adult humor because it's for adults. However, any parent who plops their impressionable five year old in front of the telly to watch Family Guy and then complains when Baby Stewie spouts penis, vaginaslut, or douche nozzle is...well...a douche nozzle.

There's not one show on that list that I allow my kids watch. Well, maybe 30 Rock, but come on, it's Tina Fey. But for the most part they'd both rather watch their own shows: Maxwell is still having a love affair with Phineas and Ferb, while Sebastian just discovered the zaniness that is Laverne and Shirley. Not a penis nor vagina in sight.

So, here's my query... Why the study? (And who are the pervs stuck at home counting penises in the first place?) I get the importance of offering children age appropriate programming, but these shows weren't developed for kids. Here's a flash overly sensitive parents, change the channel, or better yet turn the TV off all together.

You see, I'd get it if you were disgruntled by too many crotch or boobie shots. Or you were disgusted by simulated sex scenes or titillating innuendo. I understand that your little one might be too young for hospital operations, zombie feeding frenzies, violent gun play or anything including syringes, autopsies or Nicolette Sheridan. But to get up in arms about words?

Come on people, don't dog the penis. That's my brand.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fruit Mind Salad

So many arbitrary ideas, from Ben Affleck's Oscar win (?) to honkeys once again wanting to use the N word (??!?), skittering around in my head like evasive, one-winged butterflies. And it seems if I can catch just one of these lopsided lepidopterans, I'd be off and running to write my next entry/script/book/opus.

RANDOMNESS... I forbid for it to be a curse, so, here goes...

A lot has transpired as of late. I handed in my piece to The G Man Magazine, the online magazine I've been writing for. It's about (surprise) my life as a gay parent, and contrary to political vitriol it's really quite unremarkable, and not scourgelike at all. In it, I rant--you know how much I love to rant--interspliced with anti gay marriage quotes from the Republican presidential hopefuls (those who've both fallen and are still standing). The G Man Magazine will be subscription based this go around, hopefully putting a shekel or two into my pocket. I'll provide more info to you as I get it. Hope you'll check it out.

Next, health has been a recurring issue as of late. About a month ago, Maxwell's school was having a Bingo Night and I was in charge of the bake sale, having allowed the PTA to talk me into creating a fundraising committee and becoming it's chair.

There's nothing more scintillating *yawn* then elementary school politics.

Anyway, during the night, between selling cake pops and helping Sebastian with his Bingo card, I started feeling feint. I went to the bathroom, splashed water on my face, thought I was all better, and then realized when I stood fully upright that, indeed, I was not. Feeling lightheaded, I went to the ground, called for help, and the half hour that followed was a flurry of paramedics, emergency vehicles, EKGs, gurneys, trip to the hospital, swinging doors, interns, doctors, nurses, the dreaded hospital gown, the even more dreaded oxygen tube, tubes stuck into both my arms (in case of surgery), lots of questions, signature here, signature there, only to land in a scratchy-sheeted hospital bed. I tell ya, they move you fast when they think it's a cardiac issue. I felt like I was in my own private episode of ER.

Selling Rice Krispie Treats one moment, prepped for heart surgery the next...actually that sounds more like House. It was only when the sassy, Black nurse checked my vitals (even she was cast like a television stereotype) that it became evident that my heart was fine. They took all my fluids for testing and then I waited...four hours. Thankfully, I had my own TV, although I cannot recommend watching Grey's Anatomy while waiting for results.

Side note: how much did all this cost...the ambulance ride and hospital care? It totaled almost $8,000! Thank Gaga I have coverage. Does anyone know the refrain to Socialized Medicine, because I'd sing a few bars.

The long and the short of it: dehydration. Doesn't even sound like a real thing, does it? It reminds me when some star is rushed from the set to the hospital and it's announced the next day that they collapsed from exhaustion. Exhaustion, riiiiiiiight.

Dehydration, no big deal. Just send me home, I'll drink a bottle of Gatorade and I'll be fine.

Well, I got to go home, but this ol' bod don't bounce back like it used to. One full week my friends. That's how long it took for me to get back to normal. I was chugging water, Gatorade, coconut water like it was going out of style. If you could pour it I chugged it.

Then, just as I was able to stand without feeling wobbly, I managed to twist my ankle. Bless. And this past week, my sinuses have been doing this Mexican Hat Dance thing. Diarrhea. Aches in my knee (I suspect arthritis). None if it serious, but in entering my fiftieth year on this planet, it makes me realize just how fragile things can be.

Fuck my knee. I'm going spinning.