Tuesday, June 29, 2004

To be honest, I have never considered myself a dog person. After all, dogs are stinky and noisy and demanding. But the picture of the dog I've always had in mind that I didn't want wasn't this dog.

Finnegan is smart and clean and gentle, and he thinks I'm a cool chica to hang out with. He sat by my feet last night while I balanced the checkbook, and he confided that he's actually quite good with spreadsheets and wouldn't mind reconfiguring our budget for me. I was tempted to take him up on it, but by then we decided it was time to run outside for some leaping Frisbee catches.

I am terrible at Frisbee. But Finnegan thinks that adds to my charm.

As husband and I were congratulating ourselves on bringing the World's Coolest Dog into our home and elevating ourselves to World's Coolest Parents status, we realized that with adoption fees, registration, vet visit, crate, food, leash, toys, etc… the set-up cost of Finnegan was well over $700.

Incidentally, $700 is the amount I recently decided to postpone spending on furniture for our living room because we couldn't afford it. And so, here are the top five reasons why Finnegan is better than a living room couch.

Top Five Reasons Why Finnegan is Better Than a Living Room Couch

1. While both have mastered "sit" and "stay," we're convinced that the couch would never "roll over" without assistance.

2. Both may swallow coins, but only Finnegan will return them in the end.

3. A couch does not wake me up at 6 a.m. and remind me to exercise. In fact, a couch encourages me to remain sedentary.

4. If spaghetti falls on the kitchen floor, a couch wants no part of cleaning it up.

5. No couch has ever gazed at me with big puppy eyes to tell me it thinks I'm a cool chica.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

My 10-year high school reunion was this past weekend. Did I attend? For five minutes after receiving my invitation, I did entertain the idea. I mentally went through the checklist of things that keep people from going to reunions.

Have I gained a grotesque amount of weight or had a piece of my face surgically removed? No.

Am I unemployed, or employed by a gas station or government agency? No.

Have I been married more than four times? No.

Do I live with a family member? No.

And maybe I misjudged some of the people who served as a continual source of irritation. Maybe the people who made me miserable were just as immature as I was in high school, and now that we're grown ups we'll meet again as totally new people and have something to talk about.

So I basked in that idealized notion for a few moments, and then I read further on the invitation. The event would be held at a casino. A block of rooms would be reserved "for anyone who wants to hang."

Jesus, I thought. It's prom night.

And then the reality of it all came back, and I had a very strong urge to extend my middle finger to the entire high school experience, dye my hair black, skip dinner, and read complicated literature.

So no, I ditched the reunion. I stayed home with the people I actually care about and felt smugly superior to those who would look down on anyone who did not care to "hang." Hmm. Just like prom.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

One of the defining moments of my childhood occurred on the evening of December 25, 1981. Like many girl children throughout history, I had both an irrational fear of the dark and a love of all things ballerina. My parents bestowed upon me a beautiful ballerina nightlight with a pink, illuminated skirt and a large DO NOT REMOVE tag affixed angrily to her panties.

"Caution," said the tag warned. "Flammable."

"What does this say," I asked my parents.

They told me.

I blinked in disbelief. "You gave me a nightlight that could catch fire?"

They assured me of the unlikelihood of such an event, provided the nightlight was used safely and appropriately. But it was too late. The seed had been sown. My world was no longer a safe place.

That night my dreams were filled with the melting faces of my dolls as they screamed and begged to be saved from the flames that engulfed my bedroom. My walls turned to black ash, my parents disappeared into a wall of smoke, and through it all I could discern the blazing nightlight ballerina, lazily turning on her toe to a tinkling tune of perverse horror.

I managed to put all of that out of my mind for twenty years. But this past weekend, we transitioned Youngest from crib to Big Girl Bed. We gave her a nightlight and a CD player that whispered gentle Good Night Music. All was well. Youngest fell asleep.

Then we noticed the distinct odor of burnt wiring.

"Unplug it all," I told Husband.

"But it's so dark! She'll get scared. It's just the funny-smelling plastic on the new CD player."

Sidenote: Husband is the one who gets up five times a night to double check the lock on the front door, turns the car around mid-trip to make sure the oven is off, and insists that all bedding be moved well off the floor vents. Paranoia is his domain.

"We can leave the bathroom light on. That's enough light. We can't leave the nightlight plugged in."

Youngest woke up crying at 3:30 AM, and I reluctantly replugged the electronics for her. And spent the rest of the night mentally working out escape routes and contingency plans.

Tonight I'll buy us each our very own fire extinguishers to keep under our pillows.