October 20, 2005

My Ideal Night

I got a flu shot at lunch yesterday, and my arm still hurts. It’s not like I’m in agony, but I can’t lift my arm above my shoulder, which I sort of need to do at my job. It’s annoying. But hey, no avian-hoot owl-east/west Nile-chicken virus for me, right? Especially coupled with my asthma—any respiratory flu gets near my underachieving lungs and I’m, y’know, dead. [weighing hands] Death… Sore arm… DEATH… Sore arm. Hmm.

Don’t be a pussy. Get your flu shot.
(unofficial slogan of the American Medical Association)

I ended up going back to my mother’s house again last night, because my mother called to tell me that my dog stinks. My. Dog. Stinks. Could there possibly be a stupider reason to make a thirty-mile commute? She insists that the smell is making her gag, and she can’t wait until Saturday (which is when I usually come home to visit) for me to bathe my dog, because she wants to sit next to my Mom on the couch and watch TV. Now, I know from personal experience that the living room couch itself stinks, because of an unruly cat and ten years of many large people parking their undersides on it in various states of cleanliness. I suggest that the couch made my dog stink, not the other way around. Regardless, I need to come home and wash the dog. Now.

I ask to speak to my sister. I figure if I pay $50 a month for my dog to live at home, my sister can damn well Febreeze the dog to tide my mother over until the weekend (Yes, my dog pays rent. No clothes, no opposable thumbs, no job, and my dog pays more rent than my sister. Yes, I know it is). My sister says she's not washing my dog, and she can’t smell anything but the horrible potpourri-flavored candle my mother has lit in the living room. I suggest to my mother that the candle stinks. I then get a 20-minute diatribe on how I’m a horrible mother to my dog. My Mom obviously hasn’t read yesterday’s entry, and doesn’t know that I am, deep in my psyche, the very model of maternal affection.

I begrudgingly make the drive after work, even though I had dinner plans, to come into town and wash my dog. I mentioned that my mother has been tetchy lately. Actually, more like bipolar, because I walked into my house last night and she’s all smiles, has cleaned the entire house, and has decorated for Halloween. She’s almost eerily cheery, considering she’s been quite down for weeks now. I go with it. I wrangle the dog and get her nails clipped, with much struggling. I then help my sister trim the nails of the other two dogs, “as long as we’re here, and I have the clippers out”. I take my dog outside, brush her, give her a quick spin around the block, then convince her it really is OK for her to go upstairs just this once, as that is where the only working shower is. I get her in the teeny tiny bathroom and shut the door.

I have no bathtub. I have a small shower stall.
My dog weighs fifty pounds. And she hates the water.

Here is where I wash a reluctant-yet-accepting sad-eyed animal in my underwear in my mother’s mildew-y shower. I’m in the underwear, not her. I feel like it’s wrong to be naked with an animal in a small space, even if it is your own dog. Not wrong like, criminal—just embarrassing for the dog, who really isn’t enjoying this in the first place. Now, my sister washes her dog, a shih-tzu, in the shower with her when she showers. Is that weird? I love my dog, but I know that she’s not a human being, and I respect the limits—unlike my sister, who panders to her dog like a small child and insists she’s “people”. My sister is one of those crazy pet people. Not the creepy kind, that kiss their pets on the lips and dress them in little outfits, but the “Toni says ‘Pet me!’ Pet my dog! Do it, or she’ll get mad at you and I’ll side with her ‘cause I like her more” kind. But I obviously love my dog, because why else would I be in my skivvies in a crappy moldy shower getting oatmeal shampoo in my eyes when she shakes her wet-dog fur EVERY FIVE MINUTES on a Wednesday night?

So I give her a final rinse, turn the shower off, and squeegee the water down her back. She shakes. Again. I let her out of the shower, and dry her with a towel. She likes this bit. She fights with the towel, and I throw it over her eyes for a joke. The actual drying bit takes ten minutes, because a furry animal is basically a giant sponge--and I’m trying to empty that sponge into a bath towel. Her feet leave four puddles on my mother’s linoleum. She shakes again, and the puddles are rivers now. I dry her off some more, then dry the floor, then remove my socks, which I forgot to take off earlier, and throw them away. I don my clothes, put my dog’s collar on her, and let her run downstairs.

I hear yelling from the living room.

I take longer than I really need to gather my things, because hey, I didn’t really want to be here in the first place, then slowly make my way downstairs. I find my dog on top of my mother on the couch, soaking her nicely with the dregs of the shower still hidden in her skin. I love my dog.

“Well?” I ask my mother. “Aren’t you going to tell her how nice she smells?”

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