Three weeks ago we enrolled The Puppy into an obedience course held at the local municipal center. Aside from the occasional screeching wife beater or flighty crackhead being hauled into the police station it’s a lovely location, right on serene waters of the Gulf. There is a skateboard park only fifty feet away which, while distracting and frightening to my ADD addled, easily startled dog, serves as a constant reminder that I’m younger and cooler than the rest of the people in dog training school. While they often glance over with irritation and distaste, I watch the hip youngsters with the admiration of shared athleticism, knowing that I could top their daredevil antics provided I had enough OxyContin in my system and Icy-Hot on my back. I also fucking love it when they fall down and get hurt.
The woman who runs the class, Sarah, reminds me of myself because, while she’s attractive, charming and well intentioned, she lacks focus and has the organizational skills of a pipe bomb. Her biggest character defect seems to be her late stage Alzheimer’s memory. Every Tuesday starts off the same, with a re-introduction of ourselves and our dogs, a re-writing of email addresses and phone numbers and a re-promise to send lesson plans and the recipe for the dog crack that we were given the first week but haven’t seen since. She gave us all a sample the first week and I’ve never seen a dog react to anything that wasn’t a dead animal covered in shit with such utter delight. It’s like how cats would react to catnip if the catnip had injured baby canaries and ecstasy mixed in with the green leafy stuff.
I can’t blame Sarah for her inability to remember names however, especially not with this class. There are four small, fluffy, white dogs: Bentley, Brady, Bella and Beasley. There is a large, dim witted Labrador named Buddy and an adorable Bulldog puppy named Bradley who stole Puppy’s thunder because he is actually puppy shaped. The two couples who own Bentley, Brady, Bella and Beasley are just as pedestrian, bland and Caucasian as their dogs. I can’t remember their names and can only assume them to be something like Brad and Betty and Bob and Buffy. Who cares? The point is that all eight of the vanilla looking, weak tea drinking, boring beings are interchangeable and easily forgotten.
Buddy’s owner looks like a younger Marge Schott. And when I say younger I mean not yet dead. But still pretty old. She shows up nicely buzzed and is hammered by the end of the class. She carries a large gray water bottle filled with something that causes her to grimace and shudder after every sip. The more she ‘rehydrates’ the more her New York accent comes out along with a disposition that progresses from surly to caustic. She also has a hard time with names and has taken to calling the men Buster, the women Honey and the dogs either Hey or God Damn it.
The owner of Bradley The Bulldog Puppy is a supersized black man with bulbous, bloodshot eyes and an easy smile. This is my kind of people and it’s him that I feel a kinship with, although I can’t remember his name. I want to say Bernard but that can’t be right.
Despite all the confusion, Puppy does quite well with instruction. She’s nervous and twitchy, especially around Marge Schott and Buddy but so far she’s managed to accomplish every task that she’s been taught. Especially after getting a taste of that canine crack the first week. After hearing Puppy’s Corpsey Cat story and witnessing for herself how nervous the dog actually is, Sarah treats Puppy like the ear taster in a special ed class. This culminates in both Puppy receiving special attention as well as having to sit out of some of the more difficult or anxiety producing tasks. We all must take care not to upset the ‘special student.’ All of this gives Puppy an undeserved air of accomplishment and pride that she wears like an oversized copper metal from one of those socialist sports competitions that give everyone a prize.
This last week we had to ‘Pass The Puppy,’ an exercise in which The Puppy was ironically excluded due to her neurotic nature. As Sarah explained Pass The Puppy, our dog, The Puppy, looked around expectantly for an instruction with the hope of doggy crack to follow. “Ok now pass Bucky(?) to Bennett(?) and Burt(?) to Belinda(?),” said Sarah, tilting her voice upward like an Australian and turning every pause into a question. While everyone looked around with confusion she told me to walk The Puppy around the outside of the loose circle. “Ok good, now pass Bitzi(?) to Bonner(?) and Bess(?) to Bambi(?),” Sarah continued. The eight Caucasians condescendingly grumbled that they didn’t know a Bitzi or a Bonner, Marge Schott swore and sipped and grimaced and shuddered and eyed my black buddy Bernard with suspicion all while The Puppy pranced around the outside of the chaotic circle with a false sense of accomplishment like a mildly retarded stallion and I stared wistfully into the distance, hoping that somebody took a header off the half pipe.
The Left, Right, Panic- I can’t believe that this one has made it through 5 or 8 (I’m way too high on
doctor-shopped Ritalin coffee to go back and count) awkward posts without being mentioned because it happens to me All The Fucking Time. I’ll be walking somewhere, minding my own business and thinking about something as innocuous as opaque labia when I see someone coming towards me. The street could be wider than Whoopi Goldberg’s vagina but this person will continue in a dead aim straight towards me.
I’ll then make my intentions known with my eyes, head, hips, and sometimes even my hands with a freaky speed walker-like gesture, all to let the person know that I’m moving to the left thereby giving them the middle and right by which to pass me without incident. But no. The bastard, who never played a sport in his life, obviously, will also shift left, putting us right back on a collision course.
Now, with time and distance quickly diminishing, I’ll use the balls of my feet to gracefully bounce right. Then, they will too, but not nearly as gracefully as I did. At this point I panic and die a little bit inside. Now we have reached awkwardity and are barreling towards catastrophe. “Why couldn’t the stupid old man with the walker have watched my hips, he was supposed to watch my hips?” I ask myself.
The vast majority of the time I will make another darting left and that will be the end of it. Sometimes, when the situation is dire enough though, I will duck and hide in a doorway and allow the obtrusive elderly matron to shuffle by. Or sometimes, when I feel that I’ll be able to easily outmaneuver the person due to their cumbersome oxygen tank, I’ll feint left and thrust right in a stunning display of athletic prowess. Or sometimes, I’ll use the old Heisman stiff-arm to push past my enemy.
In the worst possible scenario, if all of the above tactics have failed and I’ve waited too long, my forward momentum will carry be just past the tipping point after I’ve tried to stop, and I’ll end up inevitably bumping chests with a stranger. When this happens I will stop whatever I’m doing, turn around, and go straight home to sit on my couch for the rest of the day.
The Follow Through- Perhaps other people don’t feel awkward in this situation. Who’re you calling a psycho?
When I make an outlandish direct threat and the threatee still ‘wants some’ I become all conflicted and indecisive. When my daughter was really young and I’d say, “If you don’t stop kicking my seat I’m going to turn this car right around.” Then she’d continue to kick it, usually harder, but I didn’t really want to turn around because we were going somewhere that I wanted to go like the beach or the toy store or the dog track. So I’d pull over and just kind of sit there feeling assholish and trying to bluff but failing. So I’d always end up going ahead anyway and just punishing her by not allowing her to place any bets or talk to the nice ‘lady’ in the funny clothes.
Another, even more awkward situation occurred with my friends when I’d say something like, “Dude, if you repeat that phrase one more time I’m going to stick this bong so far up your ass we’re going to be taking ear hits for the next month.” Then the stubborn, contentious fucker would be all, “BAM! 97X, the future of Rock and Rolllll… Bam! 97X, the future of Rock and Rollllll… BAM! 97X, the future ….” staring at me all spitefully and a little autistically the whole time.
So I felt like I had to follow through, right? Plus, I had everybody else all looking at me expectantly so I’d knew I had to something. I could rush over and put him in a fake stranglehold, but that would have left us both feeling even more awkward. So instead, I ran into the bathroom, came out with a tub of Vaseline, liberally applied it to the rim of the bong and tried to ‘jokingly’ de-pant him and bend him over the coffee table while he ‘jokingly’ started to freak the fuck out and started making a scary mewling noise while everybody got all quiet and open mouthed.
Of course, everybody pretended to treat me differently after that. Like they were scared of me or something. Like I was some kind of freak. It’s just hard to know how to follow through on a crazy threat.
Am I right?
Update: I accidentally liked my own post and I can’t figure out how to unlike it and now I look like a conceited and vain douchebag who likes his own posts. This is awkward. Again.
One of the most uncomfortable and, wait for it…. awkward situations that have occurred far too frequently in my life occur when a person knows me and I don’t have a clue who in the hell they are. I don’t know if it is due to the fact that I used to party a lot. And when I say ‘party’ I mean all that stuff that those PSA’s tell you will give you short term memory loss which is just a fancy way of saying that they’ll make you retarded. And when I say ‘a lot’ I mean ‘alot.’ Which is how I should write based on how many drugs I’ve done.
Luckily I mostly did the kind of drug that makes you stand in the kitchen and talk into the camera saying, “this is your brain on drugs…” while frying up some nice eggs and maybe even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because those are delicious when you’re high, but I never did the kind of drugs that make you look aggressively into the camera and then unexpectedly start smashing up your kitchen with a cast iron frying pan for no discernable reason. I think meth makes you do that. I also think that meth causes you to lay witness to an ugly, anorexic, bleedy, baldy, corpsey, naked version of yourself in the shower. So it’s good that I’ve never done meth because I’d probably destroy my kitchen with a cast iron frying pan in a hysteric fit of ragey panic if I saw the naked, corpsey, shower Me.
I’ve also never done the kind of drug that makes you get all dick sucky when you feel you need more of it. I guess I pretty much suck balls at being a drug addict, except without all the ball sucking because if I were doing the ball sucking, I would, ironically, not suck balls at being a drug addict. I’d be good at it.
Sorry, I got off track before I even started the train. See what drugs do to you? I was just saying that I’ve done enough drugs in my life to basically have turned into Leonard from Momento except without all the tats and I couldn’t remember to remember Sammy Jankis because I can’t remember to remember anybody.
I remember that remembering people started to become a problem in my early 20’s when random people would just walk up to me like we were BFF’s or even frenemies and babble on about some nonsense regarding their lives/parents/baby mama drama or some such shit. But I wouldn’t have the slightest inkling of who they were. The only feeling I felt was one telling me that if they were telling me about their baby mama drama then I should have known who they were and I was left hoping that I wasn’t about to be told that I was, in fact, the baby mama.
When I still lived in Pittsburgh this happened to me at least once a week. I never knew what to do in those circumstances so I would usually internally panic and wonder how well I was supposed to know this person. Like, what if I had accidentally slept with this person, or what if they saved my life by donating a kidney or a heart or something when I was dying? But then I wonder if they’re tricking me and I’m really supposed radiate hatred instead of pretending to smile because they beat me up or raped my dad or something similar. God damn it sucks balls (but not literally) not to be able to remember people who remember you.
So I’d usually just kind of plaster this fake smile across my face and nod and tilt my head at all of the appropriate intervals and hope like hell they weren’t on to me. Because if they realized how bad my memory actually was they could have easily produced DNA evidence and informed me that I owed around $21,874.00 in back child support.
Now that I’m a safe six thousand miles from home those awkward encounters almost never happen to me in person anymore. Now they only happen on Facebook. I went to a large high school and I had my share of friends but I wasn’t, like, quarterback of the football team, popular. I wasn’t even wide receiver popular, and I was the wide receiver (but not in the gay way) until my senior year. But now everybody I’ve ever so much as nodded to in the hall wants to be my friend on Facebook.
Back in high school they were all like, “Oh no, we can’t hang out with Scott. He sells crack and he stabbed that kid in the throat with a utility knife in wood shop (true story) and we heard his dad might have been raped but can’t remember.” Now, when I log on, I see friend requests from people wanting to be all up in my grill. That would be fine in and of itself, but then they send me messages asking me if I remember these ‘incidents’ and wanting me to be all nostalgic but not only do I not remember “what happened” at “that killer party” where “we accidentally exploded that old dude’s heart” but I don’t even know who the motherfuck it is sending me these messages in the first place. I don’t remember any Bills or Jeffs…?
Maybe I should start taking Astra Zeneca or something.