A thousand years ago, my wife of countless decades and I were in the delicate dance of courtship. We were already crazy about each other, but getting to know one another’s parents was still a work in progress. Her parents first met me on a trip to our college campus, and had been under-impressed with my story of my roomate’s cat. Ray – the cat not the roomate – was known to bury his turds so thoroughly in the litter box, that he would end up exhuming them by accident. Not aware of what he had found, Ray would start juggling the litter-coated nugget back and forth, eventually batting it across the floor in a spirited display of feline soccer prowess.
Her parents, polite people who didn’t want to hurt their daughter’s feelings, stood there nodding and saying things like “Oh my!” and “What a talented little cat that must be!” My girlfriend stood off to the side, wringing her hands and hoping that I would shut the hell up before I made them think I was any more of an idiot than I had already proven myself to be. Finally, when I was at last out of things to say that didn’t involve cat doo doo, we all went out for a nice dinner. The meal was uneventful, and my girlfriend was thrilled at the relative silence of all of us chewing and talking about how nice the salad bar was. I can only imagine the stoney silence as her parents drove home that night, each quietly hoping their daughter would wake up and drop that oddball before she got too serious about him.
The weeks flew by and my girlfriend’s parents got used to me to a point. The relationship was plugging along, and everyone was relatively comfortable. Certainly we wished to keep it that way.
During those years, my girlfriend and I had a dog. Technically, I had the dog, since she had graduated by then and was living at home and actually working, while I was still at college living in an off-campus student ghetto. The dog was a sort-of black lab. Her nose was a little too pointy, and she wasn’t quite the right proportions to be an actual lab, but she was closer to being a lab than anything else. We named her Tia, not after the Spanish word for “aunt”, but after the Jamaican coffee liqueur, Tia Maria. The people who owned brown and black dogs around campus had already stolen the good booze-related dog names, including Guinness and Kahlua. Anyway, the dog lived with me off-campus with my roomates and neighbors along with their various dogs, including Timber, Buddy, Buzz and Ziggy (those were the dogs, not the roomates).
Our living arrangements were typical of the era. The dogs lived as barely-domesticated in the neighborhood, scavenging the yards and alleys, eating like cartoon goats. Dogs and roomates lived in a constant state of flea bombings and unexpected vet bills. One dog had eaten an entire bag of garbage and needed surgery to extract the Hefty Two-Ply from its lower G.I. system. Another had chipped his tooth chasing a thrown brick which took an unfortunate hop. Still another needed a capful of peroxide to induce vomiting to help his owner recover a quarter ounce of a prized product, which he then sold to unsuspecting customers, as if it had never been in the stomach of a spaniel-mix. Dogs, huh?
On one particular visit to my future in-laws, my girlfriend and I were walking Tia out on her parent’s lawn. Her parents were not out there, but were likely to come strolling out of the house at any time. My future sister-in-law was there, making small talk with us, while Tia sniffed around the yard, looking for a good place to drop a deuce. Always trying to maintain my future son-in-law status, I was prepared to scoop up any nuggets that Tia was going to drop on the fescue. She assumed the position, and I scurried over to have the load off the grass as quickly as possible. As I crouched near her, I was not entirely surprised to see that her dump appeared to be composed of something other than 100% processed kibble. Upon further inspection, it appeared to be some sort of translucent plastic or latex. Just as the light bulb of recognition flickered on, Tia decided she was done and trotted off to another part of the yard, her tail happily wagging. An undigested condom hung out of her butt and was wagging in the opposite sequence of her tail.
Petrified that my future in-laws would come out of the house at any minute, I chased the oblivious Tia trying in vain to catch the dog-dootie covered rubber. My girlfriend and her sister proved their worth by watching from another part of the lawn and laughing as I crouch-ran across the grass, trying to time my grasps with the conflicting swings of the tail and the rubber. Tia, ever playful despite an obvious eating disorder, decided that she enjoyed the game and managed to keep herself just out of reach.
I was finally able to get her coralled and pull the offending Trojan out of her dumper before my future in-laws could come out of the house. I stood there for a brief moment of victory until I realized what I was holding, then quickly dropped it in the bag I held. I was more than a little eager to get myself to the nearest sink for 30 minutes of scalding handwashing.
Like many stories from ancient history, it’s hard not to wonder “what if?”. What if my father-in-law-to-be had wandered out of the house in time to see the dog and her protrusion? It might have spelled an entirely different path for my life. I might have bid a hasty farewell to my girlfriend and never seen her again. Then again, my future father-in-law might have just shrugged and gone back into the house, and I would have ended up right where I am after all. Most people would say that having philosophical thoughts about a topic such as this is both disturbing and pointless – but if I was like most people, what would be the appeal of this blog?
I owe a strange debt of gratitude to Angie Z. of Childhood Relived, who through no fault of her own, got into a comment stream with me about a totally different subject, which somehow took a scatological turn. She in no way could have forseen that safe sex would somehow cross-pollinate this gem of a story and make it even worse. Those among you who have been engaged in comment streams here on WordPress can probably understand. Those of you who ignore the comments might want to reconsider- some of us do our best work there – potty talk and all. If you click on Angie’s blog link above, you can see her funny writing, and make sure to stick around for the comments section after. Follow her blog as you do mine, become a better person, do it now!