The Sad and Sordid Tale of the POP UP Incident

POP UP

Puddles Of Poop  Under Pup

DISCLAIMER: Dearest, loveliest readers: this post may not be for the faint of heart or stomach.  You have been warned.

Lance here.  Yes, the Lance of “the Lance and Jeff blog” fame.  I have a story I need to share with you.  It’s a tale that may break your heart and churn your stomach.  Kind of like Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven  (another day, I promise).

My story begins on a typical Thursday afternoon.  I usually have the pleasure of beating Jeffrey home from work by about two hours.  You know, Septa, biking, a work schedule that is, well, not as good as mine.  It all adds up to about an extra two hours for him.  On this typical Thursday, I come home, open the door and smell something… off.  Just not right.

Naturally, my first thought was – DANG IT!  My Wallflower Home Fragrance Diffuser Units have malfunctioned!  To B&BW immediately!  Also naturally, my second thought was that my downstairs neighbor was again cooking some kind of very stinky dinner.  Was that broccoli?  Brussels sprouts?  Chicken beaks?

I moseyed on upstairs, the day’s mail in hand, fatso Kitty at my feet just begging for me to step on her.  Which I did.  No, just kidding, I didn’t.  Well, maybe kinda sorta a little bit…

I dropped the mail on the counter, drop-kicked the cat and went in to see Ripley (“the magical dog”)…

HORROR.    Now THIS was the true American Horror Story.

(Let me preface the juicy part of the story with this nugget of truth: when I saw what I saw, my first thought was to calmly, slowly and quietly (as if someone was listening) back away, back down the stairs, get back into my car, and drive to Target or Starbucks or even CHURCH for that matter.  That’s how bad it was.)

Ripley the Magical Dog had soiled his “house.”  No – absolutely not, that is too proper – Ripley the Magical Dog and dropped a diarrhetic dung heap in his dungeon.  It oozed, it squished, it steamed,  it stank worse than Jeff’s breath in the mornings.  Ripley had become the creature from the black lagoon – and that black lagoon was made of bubbling, festering POOP.  He was covered in splotches of it – tail, legs, paws, ears, teeth (?!).

His face, though.  Let me back up for a second and say that when Jeff and I first brought Ripley home, I looked at him and said “That face is going to get you out of a lot of trouble.”  I mean – have you SEEN him? He’s the cutest dog/mammal/living thing on the planet – most likely in the universe (I choose to believe that beings from outer space could not possibly be cuter than my Ripley.)

While I was staring in terror at the decimation of his cage (I once over heard in a public bathroom one dude say to another dude: “Yo, man, I’m about to decimate this place!” – true story) that face looked up at me.  At that moment, my poor, pathetic, poop covered pup became an instant thing of legend.  Who knew a little poop could make me love him infinitely more?  Suddenly, the paternal (maternal?) instinct kicked in – I valiantly rushed to his cage, valiantly threw open the door,  valiantly picked him up, and valiantly rushed him outside.  Valiantly.

I like to think I saved the day that “typical” Thursday.  I rescued my baby from his den of feces, with only minimal squealing and squawking.  I called Jeff (who, remember was still working – HA!  Sucks to be you, Jeff!) with a more or less calm demeanour (calm for me is everyone else’s @&*#%#(@@&@), and I somehow managed to carry the poopy doggie bed to the balcony.

I lit a few dozen candles, sprayed a couple room sprays – Island Margarita and Marshmallow Fireside, not a good combo – and opened the windows.  I locked the poopy dog in the bathroom until (sucker) Daddy 2 came home to give him a bath, and sat down on a fluorescent orange chair with bowl of coffee ice cream and thought, “Wow, I’m a good dad.”  [Meanwhile Ripley was whimpering in the bathroom, Kitty hadn’t been fed, and I hadn’t even thought about starting dinner for my late-working husband.]

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Pip/Snip

Friday was a big day in our house: Ripley (also affectionately referred to as “Pippy” or “Pip”) was neutered.  It was like his bar mitzvah, except without the money, food, or…well, it’s basically the opposite of a bar mitzvah, I suppose.

When I was at work on Friday, my boss asked me about how Ripley was when we dropped him off for his surgery.  “Oh, you know, fine, I guess,” I said.  “It was a little alarming, though, when the technician asked us if we wanted Ripley resuscitated if his heart stopped while under anesthesia.”

“Oh yeah. Dogs are much more prone to dying on anesthesia than people are,” my boss replied.

UHH…what?  So, of course, I was sufficiently freaking out the entire day, waiting for a phone call from the vet telling me that Ripley had died on the operating table, and how they’d not only been unsuccessful in the attempt to bring him back from All Dogs Go To Heaven, but how they were going to charge us $10,000 for their efforts to save his life.

Thankfully, though, everything turned out to be just fine.  The poor little guy was so drugged up after we picked him up from the vet, he could barely walk.  His Comfy Cone (we splurged ’cause, well, look at that face!) didn’t help matters either, since it was opaque black and limited his peripheral vision to almost nothing.  It was a little pathetic.

Unfortunately, his little Comfy Cone was just a tad too small, so he was able to reach his little snout back to his nether regions, which is a big neinnein! (I’ve recently been resorting to telling Ripley “no!” in German and/or Russian in order to get his attention, since using English words regularly said in conversation have little effect on furry friends.)  We had to take Ripley back to the vet so he could get re-sized for a collar, and, of course, the next size up in the Comfy Cone series was way to big, making Ripley look like a wilted flower, so we had to resort to a plastic cone:

The problem with this cone is that it is completely transparent, so Ripley is, at times, unaware that it’s even on, so he will just run up behind you and ram you in the legs with it, or flop around while you’re trying to sleep and whack you in the noggin.  It also pushes all of his hair up around his face so that he looks just generally smushed.

Of course, since Ripley was recovering from the loss of his manhood, we didn’t have much to do this weekend other than sit around and Weird Al some current Top 40 hits:

The Ripley Dog & Kitty Boo Variety Show

They act like they’re mortal enemies, bitter rivals in the struggle for which one of them can demand the most attention from their owners.

They squabble, chase after one another, paws flying, growls growled, meows meowed.

But behind this contentious façade lies what might not be a friendship, but at least a mutually agreed-upon collaboration between Ripley and Kitty to drive us crazy.

I imagine they plot during the day, when we’re at work.  Ripley’s in his crate, and Kitty paces nearby, scheming on how to get back at us for bringing Ripley into her life.  Ripley, the Pinky in this Pinky & The Brain relationship, is cool with following Kitty’s direction since, you know, he is a puppy and wreaking havoc is par for the course.

What evidence is there to suggest their coordination?  If it seems like a coincidence… and all that:

  • Kitty knows just where to sit on the sofa to get into Ripley’s eye-line, just taunting him with her pudgy little face until he has NO OTHER CHOICE but to jump on the back of the sofa. Kitty will bat at him, to no effect.  I yell at him to get down, which he does for maybe 10 seconds, then is back up the back of the sofa.  Repeat until I scream.
  • Ripley, like pretty much every dog, would much rather eat discarded plastic from the trashcan than the animal byproducts that compose his food (and really, who are we to blame him?) Ripley routinely gets into the trash, and Kitty has taken full advantage of this fact.  Around dinnertime is the worst, so as we’re about ready to eat, Ripley’s busy tearing open a discarded ice cream carton.  We scramble to get him out of the trash, only to turn around and see Kitty eating from our dinner plates.  I let out a guttural yell of agitation.
  • This last one hurt the most: I was so proud of myself, remember to get cash out early to pay our dog-walker, instead of forgetting until the morning of and having to squeeze in a run to the bank before catching the train.  We usually stick the money in an envelope and leave it on the ledge by the stairwell leading to the front door.  I set the cash (a couple of $20s) up on the ledge and walked into the other room to grab an envelope. Somewhere in those 15 steps, I got distracted and went to do something else, spacing that the cash was still up on that ledge.  This is when Kitty, with the complete heartless disregard of a diabolical mastermind, casually makes her way up on to that same ledge.  I can just imagine what’s going through her little pea-sized mind. “Whoops,” she thinks with a giggle as her back leg just happens to kick loose a bill.   Not long later, I make my way back over there with an envelope, and literally say out loud, “There’s supposed to be two twenties here…OH SHIIIIII—” I begin darting around the apartment, trying to track it down, knowing already, in my heart of hearts, that all is lost.  Then I see it: half of Andrew Jackson’s face.  I snap my head around to the dog, who is sitting there, tail wagging, tongue hanging out in that perpetual “Look at this! You can’t hate this!”  face he has.  “Where’s the other half of his face, Ripley?? Where is it??”  Of course, it was gone, the only other remnant of currency being the opposite end of the bill—the middle was entirely gone, lost to the same digestive track that intakes mulch and carpet.  I let out a silent scream, a mix of disbelief and horror that $20 just—poof, gone.

Who knew that pet ownership involved so much screaming and weeping?

The Same Big Sky

This may be sacrilege, but Mickey isn’t the only mouse I loved as a kid.

It was totally innocent, though, I swear.  And, to be honest, though I loved Fievel Mousekewitz—still love him, in fact—I’m not sure it was so much him specifically that I cared for, as much as what he represented to me.

Now, that all seems like eons ago, and weeks or months will go by and I won’t have any cause to think about the little Russian-American mouse, but every so often, something will jog my memory, an involuntary, triggered reaction.

While Lance was away, frolicking down the Strip drinking an adult slushie from an Eiffel Tower-shaped plastic cup, and I had my hands full with the Ripley Dog and Kitty Boo Variety Hour, my iTunes DJ was playing in the background, and eventually Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram’s rendition of An American Tail’s “Somewhere Out There” started playing.

There are a few, a handful of songs, maybe, that have had any sort of lasting impact on me; the vast majority of music I enjoy calls me, maybe, and then burns out or fades away, not to be considered again except for the occasional, “Remember when…? Oy, how did I ever like that…?”

“Somewhere Out There,” like Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” and, of course, Dashboard Confessional’s “Screaming Infidelities” (hold your tomatoes! Just kidding, folks), have that little unique tie to memory that only grows stronger, more binding and meaningful, over time.

For “The Story,” it was iTunes’ Free Song of the Week during my senior year of college, and ended up being the song to which Lance and I walked down the aisle.

“Somewhere Out There” has roots much further back. When I was a kid, my parents and I moved around a lot, usually far from my extended family, who I’d only get to see a few times a year (and, as we know, a year is really freaking long time for a five-year-old).  An inhibiting shyness didn’t help in filling this void with, you know, actual human friendship, but I found solace in my collection of animated films like “The Little Mermaid” and “An American Tail.”

This song, which Fievel and his sister sing as a duet as they’re separated by a city as vast to them as a continent, was my little kid lullaby, the song my mom would sing to me as I yearned for my family, who seemed at times, insurmountably, far away.  Whenever I hear it, even today, the first image that pops into my mind is my maternal grandmother (who I affectionately called—and sometimes still refer to as–“Grandma Sugarplum”) stepping off a jetway at the airport, coming to visit me.

Even though it’s a little sad, and a little hokey by today’s standards (I mean, what the heck is an electric guitar doing in this song??), it’s hopeful too, and lends me some comfort when, even today, my family is too far away, or my partner and I are divided by time zones and mountain ranges.

Even though I know how very far apart we are, it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star.

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby, it helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.

 The irony here, of course, is that my Fievel stuffed animal (currently going for $40 on Ebay! WHAT?!), is back at home in Michigan.

The Lance & Jeff Glossary of Terms

This colorful, beautiful Lance Original (TM) is brought to you by our new Bamboo Tablet and Pen.

There comes a day in every relationship when something you say aloud gives you pause. It could be, “Don’t be unlurp!” or perhaps, “I forgot my umbie today and it’s going to rain!”

That’s right: you and your partner have slowly established your own sub-dialect, a sugary-sweet (well, one hopes its that more than venomously vitriolic) concoction of pig latin-esque nonsense which sounds more like names of Pokemon than actual English.

This will only intensify as you bring dumber creatures into your life (i.e., pets or children), and you feel the need to introduce baby talk into an already warped nonstandard language.

For example, here’s a conversation that I might have with Lance on any given day:

Me: “Ripley, has Daddy #1 fed’ed you yet?”

Ripley: “Arf?”

Lance: “Daddy #1 fed’ed Rippy fifteen mims ago.”

[Kitty (also known as Meepy, Janney, Miss Regaltons, and Littlest Boo) enters]

Kitty: “Mrrroooww?”

Lance [to Kitty]: “Kitty, did Daddy #2 forget to clean your poop rocks again?”

Me [ashamed]: “Yes, Daddy #2 will do it right now…”

Lance: “How unlurp!”

Now, Lance and I can follow this pidgin language just fine, but I can only imagine how we come across to others when we accidentally let it slip out in public.  There have been a few times, like when I said at work, “Aww, man, I forgot my umbie!” and, upon realizing my shameful error, quickly added, “…rella!” My co-workers must’ve been thinking, “What the hell is an umbierella?”

Since this blog is where we go to publicly embarrass ourselves anyway, let’s go over just a few of the many terms Lance and I employ on a daily basis:

  • Daddy #1: Lance, ’cause he’s older
  • Daddy #2: Jeff, since I’m younger and generally inferior
  • Rippy/Pippy/Ripley Doodle/Little Pip: Ripley the Magical Pup
  • Kitty/Meepy Meepykins/Littlest Boo/Miss Regaltons/Kitty Boo/Dumb Bitch (that’s Lance’s): Janney the cat
  • PNFF: the acronym for “Partner n’ Friend Forever.”
  • Mims: what Lance sleepily requests every weekday morning when Jeff attempts to wake him up (translation: minutes)
  • Pei Wizzles: Lance and Jeff’s dinner of choice (translation: Pei Wei Asian Diner)
  • -izzles: A suffix to basically any type of food (i.e., pizza would be “pizzles,” )
  • Hungrizzle: Hungry, which leads to our other uses of -izzle
  • SB: Starbucks
  • B-B-Dubs: Bath & Body Works (not to be confused with Cottonelle Moist Wipes, which are called “B-Dubs”…you figure it out)
  • Fringies: Lance’s favorite TV show, “Fringe”
  • Poop rocks: Cat litter
  • Buggy: Shopping cart
  • Unlurp: what Jeff calls Lance when Lance is being grumpy (translation: unloving)
  • That’s lurp!: what Jeff says to Lance when Lance does something nice (translation: loving)
  • Doll babies: Jeff’s collectible figurines (translation: Marvel Mighty Muggs)
  • Umbie: an item used to protect Lance and/or Jeff from the rain (translation: umbrella)
  • Dins: Dinner (related: “What’s for dins?” is the universal signal for “Lance wants pizza for dinner”)
  • Ouce cream: Ice cream (borrowed from Michelle Tanner)
  • Pennum: A nonsense word that Lance once repeated empathically as he was coming out of a heavy sleep. Now used sparingly as meaningless word vomit

The above list is by no means exhaustive; heck, we probably say stupid crap all the time and don’t even realize it.

What’re some examples of your homegrown relationship vocabulary?

What To Do When Your Partner Leaves You Alone With A Neutered Dog

Friends, it’s true: Lance is leaving me.

…for a long-weekend of giggling, falling asleep at early hours, and the Tournament of Kings dinner show in Las Vegas with his BFF of 20 years (OMG so old!), Romina.

Should I feel jealous that he’s travelling without me?  Or worried about suspicious activity? (Like, will Lance pass out from a protein-overdose at the MGM Grand Buffet after eating too many ribs??)

Well, I’m not.  If I know my boy, he’ll be more disgusted by the vast majority of other gays and their sleeveless, too-snug tees to find anybody attractive.  He’ll probably make this face if anybody comes on to him:

Or, he and Romina won’t make it out of the hotel room after ordering room service and turning on a TLC reality show marathon.

But still, that leaves me (and really, isn’t it all about me?) alone with two furry friends, one of whom is about to go through reverse-puberty, for four days.  How could I possibly force myself to get out of bed, separated from my love as I’ll be, and find things to occupy my time for that long??

Here’s a little secret, folks: while I will undoubtedly miss my Boo Berry, there is a certain air of freedom that comes with having the house to yourself for a little while, and I plan to bathe myself in that sweet, glorious freedom.

“How does this manifest itself?” you may ask.

I’m not going to be throwing any parties or procuring any illicit drugs or any such thing.  What I will be doing is enjoying a few of my favorite things without Lance making this face over my shoulder:

 

See, there are some things I love that Lance just cannot stand, and I, highly sensitive to judgment, would rather leave my beloved hobbies and favorite pieces of entertainment away from his critical stink eye.  That way, not only does he not have to be subjected to my things, but I can enjoy them in peace, without fear of negative comment or quiet distain (or, at least, my perception that these are happening.  Nope, not an important qualifier there at all.)

The last time Lance was away for the weekend, I watched all of The West Wing Season 4 in 36 hours! Go me!

Here are some of the things I may be partaking in this weekend while Lance is away:

  • The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Blu-rays (I’ve owned these for a year and have never watched them! For shame!)
  • Perusing my local Barnes & Noble with no particular plan or intention of buying anything. I love the simply, calming act of just broswing in a bookstore. It’s very cathartic!
  • Making myself a pizza that does not include chicken, bacon, and barbecue sauce. Not that this isn’t great, but Lance’s preferences for pizza toppings is limited.  Maybe I’ll even fry my crust! Additionally, I will not eat chicken fingers for any meal.
  • I’ll be able to listen to a podcast of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour without Lance doing an irritating imitation of Trey Graham’s voice.
  • Watching Back to the Future Parts II and III. Lance inexplicably didn’t care for the first one, so he’s not going back to that well any time soon.
  • Watching my season sets of Rome (I’ve owned these since 2007 and have never watched them!)
  • Watching some of my fave movies, like The Squid and the WhaleKill Bill, and Before Sunrise/Before Sunset
  • Watching…

…hrm.  I guess my list is mostly things that have my sitting around on my butt, in the dark, while I stuff my face with Chex Mix.

…This isn’t pathetic at all. Nope, no way, nosirree.  While, sure, I may be cutting myself off from the world to enjoy these things…and yes,  my skin tone is already the color of a pane of glass…and sure, I may just eat Hot Pockets instead of being ambitious enough to roll out some pizza dough…but, but…

OH GOD, HONEY, DON’T GO!  Who is going to drive me to the grocery store? (I hate driving!) Who’s going to wash the towels? (I hate doing laundry!) Who’s going to light the candles to make our apartment smell nice? (I hate candles but appreciate the ambience they provide!)

WAHHHH!

A Crisis of Fragrance

Last night, Lance was standing near his cologne station (see large image below), nervously fretting, eyes darting back and forth.  No, he wasn’t tweaking; he was plagued with indecision.  He turned to me and said, “Honey, I’m having a crisis of fragrance.”  He is going to Las Vegas on Saturday and didn’t know what scented body products to take with him.

[Before I go on, I should stress that I really wanted Lance to write this post, as it’s a long time coming.  Please feel free to harass him on Twitter (@lancegriffith) and encourage him to write more posts for this blog!]

And these are just the body products–I haven’t even gotten to the candles!

Now, this sort of internal struggle is is not unusual for Lance.  Scent is very important to him. While I have a weak sense of smell, Lance’s nose is like that of a bloodhound: highly trained and super-sensitive.  He actually can pull out the “notes” of a fragrance; he’d be great at wine tastings if he could even stand to be near the smell of fermented grapes (y’know, one bad experience in college accidentally drinking a whole bottle of wine and all that…).  This trait, coupled with his penchant for extreme couponing (where do you think my love of airline/hotel points got its inspiration from?), has left our home overflowing with Bath & Body Works products: body lotions, shower gels, body sprays, foaming soaps, eau de toilette, ..and yes, even shimmer mist.

Some people don’t understand this appreciation for smells, for Lance’s skillful Scentology.  They chuckle whenever he tells the story of the time he bought 90+ candles during a Bath & Body Works semi-annual sale.  The cashiers at Bath & Body Works know him by name, and he’s careful about revisiting an individual location too often, especially during spurts of high returns (B&BW has a very generous return policy).

However, people should not scoff–this Scentology is an art, and people routinely compliment Lance on the immersive experience he provides.  Heck, he’s basically Scent Imagineer (hint hint, Disney!).  I’ve told him he needs to scam a bunch of rich old ladies into hiring him to scent-decorate (scentorate?) their homes for a nice fat fee.

Lance is very particular about balanced and seasonably appropriate scents.  You’d best not be burning a Cranberry Woods three-wick in July (that’s strictly a Fall/Winter scent), and all active scents in each room must compliment each other (you’re not going to have a Pineapple Mango Wallflower going at the same time as a Green Grass candle, are you, you heathen?!).

This Scentology isn’t necessarily a passion, but it is a hobby that borders on obsession.  How many Bath & Body Works have we been to in the last two weeks trying to track down the Bonfile Maplewood fall release candle?  How many times have we driven across state lines to go to a larger store with a bigger inventory?  How many hours have I spent waiting outside of a Bath & Body Works??

At some points, it’s also borderlined on hoarding (how long have you had that Buttered Mashed Potato candle, hon?).  Our television cabinet is full of Wallflower bulbs, and the candle collection not only has its own shelving unit, but a separate cabinet as well.  There are  currently 22 different shower gel scents “in rotation” in our bathroom.  My dad, on one of his first visits to our apartment, looked under the sink in the bathroom and later asked me why we had so much shampoo.  No, Dad, that’s Bath & Body Works’ fall line of shower soaps.

I don’t begrudge Lance his complex, obsessive need to buy scented products (“Jungle Kiss is being discontinued?! Hurry–to the outlet!”), re-buying them every year in the new packaging even if he already owns three of the same scent.  Heck, why would I discourage him? Do you know how much money I’ve saved over the years in body wash??

I’m confident Lance will figure out what scents are best appropriate for his girls’ weekend in Vegas.  If not, he’ll just do what he always does during indecisive packing: fill up half of my luggage with his overflow stuff.