It is with a solemn heart that I must report some troubling news. I have been abandoned! My wife left me! She took our son, walked out the door, got on an airplane and went home to Mommy.
She warned me that this was coming, but I didn’t think she’d have the gall to go through with it, because it’s been years since she was away from me longer than a day and a half. It wasn’t until she actually started packing, that it became evident that she wasn’t joking. As that realization sunk in, a surge of emotions overwhelmed me.
Dropping my veneer of machismo I plunged into the most persuasive speech of my life. I begged. I cajoled. I flirted. I blustered. I blubbered. I vowed everything from a foot massage, to a candlelit champagne dinner for two at A Belle Époque near the Champs-Elysées. I even took off my shirt and did my Arnold Schwarzenegger pose for her. Alas, cruel womanhood! She spurned me like a stale Dorito. Callously she turned away, her chin set—her eyes cold—her arms crossed.
“Absolutely not!” she snapped, “You can’t get rid of me that easy. I’m staying for exactly two weeks, and then I’m coming home. Nothing you can say is going to persuade me to extend my visit, and that’s final. You won’t know what to do with yourself as it is, and I know the house will be a pigsty when I get back.”
I could see that she would be really disappointed if I spoiled her plans, so I graciously accepted her request. “Fine! If two stupid weeks is all the chill time you’re going to let me have, then I guess this conversation is over.” I stomped to the door and let it slam eloquently behind me. Instantly, I spun around to re-enter. Boy was it cold outside! I had forgotten that I was impersonating Arnold Swarzenegger.
The doorknob resisted my efforts to turn it. It seemed locked. Then my wife’s face appeared in the window, red and bobbing with laughter. I hammered on the window, kicked the door and wept, bellowing for her to let me in, until a fine white fur of hoarfrost began to creep over my chiseled concave pecs and the sculpted mound of my abs. Then the door gave way, and I fell inside. Through the pulsating red fog that blurred my vision I sensed wife leaning over me. Adopting a gravelly Austrian accent, she intoned, “I’ll be bahk!”
End of discussion. I just wish she had been a little more reasonable. I could have used the extra chill time. It isn’t that I don’t love my wife. It’s just that…well, you know how women can be sometimes. “George, you stink. Go take a shower.” “George, can you explain to me why you would throw your dirty socks on the floor three feet from the clothes hamper?” “George, If you’re going to dump the dregs of your cereal bowl in the kitchen sink, could you at least rinse it down the drain before it turns into stucco?” “George, this.” “George, that.” “George, blah blah blah!”
I just get a little tired of it, that’s all. When I was single, it didn’t bother me the tiniest bit to open my dresser draw and not find my underwear folded up into a row of compact little cubes the size of a pack of cards. As a matter of fact, I don’t ever recall opening a dresser drawer at all when I was single. They were already open. What’s the point of shutting something that you’ll just have to open again when you need some clean underwear next month? I didn’t feel the obsession to wipe my whisker trimmings off of the bathroom mirror, as long as I could see into it. I never felt obligated to rupture my larynx trying to hold in a belch that needed to come out. Life was simple and carefree. Now, I am clean and neat and smell pretty, but I’ve got ulcers and a tic in my eyelid, and white hairs in my beard.
When I realized my wife was absconding to Kentucky with my son, leaving me alone, I began to fantasize about the ramifications. It was going to be like my bachelor days! It seemed that I could almost smell the nostalgic tang of an organic restroom where the pristine air hung thick with a primal musk, or see the patina of a tabletop burnished to a glossy sheen by the patient application of pepperoni oil from a hundred pizzas. I anticipated the carefree giddiness of all night video games and corny vintage sci fi flicks. I craved the pure sensual satisfaction of feeling potato chips being kneaded into the carpet beneath my bare toes.
I could feel the blanket of oppression lift as soon as my wife walked out the door! I immediately put on a muscle shirt and grungy pair of sweat pants and retired to the couch, just for the principle of the thing. I had barely gotten propped up in a nice comfy nest of pillows when Vazhneya, my big guard dog cavorted to the door, jabbed her nose against it significantly, then swung her head around to make unmistakable eye contact.
“Vazh wants to go outside.” I sang out instinctively, before I realized that I had neither son nor wife to respond to the call. Grumbling, I climbed out of my nest, slipped my feet into a pair of slippers and threw on a coat. “Come on, you stupid mutt!” I snarled as I reached for the leash. Vazh snarled back, so in a more subdued tone I inquired after her health and expressed my honor and delight at being selected to accompany her on an outing.
You see, Vazneya isn’t a mutt actually. She is Russian royalty. Her registered name is “Thunderhawk’s Lupine Empress”, and her common name means, roughly, “Boss”. When we acquired her as an adorable little fuzz ball, it seemed exotic to be the owner of a descendent of the mighty bloodline who once guarded the Kremlin. The Caucasian Owcharka is a rare breed highly prized for their fierce family loyalty and intuitive guard instincts.
We had eagerly signed the contract to take possession of her, even though we couldn’t actually read it ourselves, since it was in Cyrillic. However, the owner of the kennel was a Bulgarian who insisted on reciting it to us in the original tongue. According to his translation, if we ever allowed the animal to be unconfined or off leash, a biochip implanted between her shoulder blades would activate a homing beacon. Within 25 seconds a black helicopter would appear above her location, and a crack Spetznaz team, armed with Krinkovs would fast rope down. While half of them would secure the animal for transport, the other half would neutralize the delinquent owners.
Now, at 30 below, with nothing but a pair of sweatpants on my legs and a lunging behemoth attempting to dislocate shoulder of the arm in which I gripped the leash, the exotic glamour was but a faded memory. As soon as I stepped out onto the porch, Vazhneya ecstatically did a triple pass around my legs and then radar locked onto an intruder at the end of the driveway. Like a MiG 29 she roared on a vector toward it. The three loops of leash cinched like a noose at my ankles and my feet lifted off, enabling my posterior to collect an assortment of splinters from the rough cut lumber of the porch floor. Helplessly, I whipped in her jet stream until she throttled back and touched down at her destination.
The alarmed destination bobbed its head, spread its white wings and fluttered to safety in the lower branches of a black spruce. As I spat the snow out of my mouth, I was disconcerted to find that as soon as my momentum slowed, I automatically popped upright as if I were spring loaded. It turned out that my sweat pants were packed with snow to the point of bursting, making me resemble one of those inflatable punching bags with the sand in the base that pops back up every time you smack it.
Vazhneya was diligently attempting to join her object of her interest on the spruce bough, probably to demonstrate her culinary peccadilloes. That complicated my efforts to extract the snow from my pants and disentangle my legs from the leash.
“Easy, Vazh! It’s just a ptarmigan. How many ptimes have I ptold you pto ptake it easy when you ptrack or ptree a ptarmigan?”
By the time I was able to make it back to the couch, Sheila, the puppy, had become jealous of the attention I was lavishing on Vazhneya. As I sat down, I found her statement of protest seeping defiantly into my sweat pants from the sofa cushion. That was only the beginning. Now it appears that the puppy has embarked on a Star Trek mission. She seeks out uncharted corners to boldly go where none have gone before! I finally filled a bucket with concrete and held her hindquarters in it until it solidified. That solved that problem. However, for every problem I solve, three more pop up. It’s amazing how cocky 14 animals can become when the Alpha female is away.
The ferret burrows madly and deafeningly through her litter box every night from 10:00pm to 6:30am. The cat patrols the windowsills and counters, sending nick knacks, swags and glasses cascading to the floor. The outside dogs split their time between howling an interminable canine ballad in three-part harmony, and worrying at their kennel fencing until they create a hole through which they wriggle. Then they bound off to chew gleefully on the goats. Insulted, the goats respond by leaping over their fence and playing king of the mountain on my new truck. Evidently, the rules of the game stipulate that players on the ground must butt the door and fenders until the king on the roof falls off. Then they take his place and the cycle repeats. This greatly saddens me.
The other day, the horses, inspired by the goats’ great escape, chewed their way through the paddock fence and ingested 500 dollars worth of my neighbor’s hay before I found them. I spend so much time fixing my critters’ messes that I am getting 750% less leisure time now than when my wife and kid were home. Thus my solemn heart as reported at the beginning of this article. I am starting to long for my wife to return so that I can get some chill time.
Of course, you can bet that the animals will flip into instant angel mode as soon as they see her. They’ll purr and wag and nicker all cute and wide-eyed and junk, while she talks in baby talk, kissing and petting and hugging on them. I’ll never be able to convince her that the state of chaos that stretches from one end of the property to the other is purely the result of a diabolical conspiracy by our domesticated fauna. I can see her now, hands on hips surveying the squalid debris-choked landscape. “I knew it, George. Didn’t I tell you that the house would be a pig-sty when I got back?” If she only knew!