Kirby and Louie

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“To his dog, every man is Napoleon, hence the constant popularity of dogs.” Aldous Huxley

Kirby is a great guy, the baby of the family, the apple of his father’s eye, and a mama’s boy, so definitely a spoiled boy. He and Brian grew up together. Brian has been friends with Kirt since they were in the womb.

Kirt’s father died of heart-related issues, and then his mother died eight or nine years ago. His sister took everything when their mother died and more-or-less left him with nothing. They never got along. Kirt asked Brian if he could put his house in Brian’s name. His mother had bought the house for him and he was afraid his sister would take it, too.

“Oh, my God,” I told Brian, don’t do it. “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.”

“Kirt would never screw me over,” said Brian.

“He would never screw you over intentionally,” I said. “But, let’s face it, Kirby is Kirby, always out to make a buck.” Kirt is Kirby, but we call him Kirt most of the time. He is nuts. One time he was growing pot in his basement, another time he was making meth, not using it, just growing it and making it and selling it.

Guess what, Brian put his name on Kirt’s house. I told him, this is the worst thing ever.

Guess what, it went bad.

Kirt blew whatever little money his mother left him and then stopped paying his property taxes. We started getting delinquency notices in the mail. It piled up on Brian and me.

“I’m going to kill him, I swear to God, I’m going to kill him,” I said. “I’m not losing our house because he’s an asshole.”

Brian finally talked to him.

“Dude,” he said. “I’m selling your house.”

Brian sold it, paid off the taxes, there wasn’t anything left after that, and that was that.

Kirt stopped by our house one day. I couldn’t even look at him. “I know you didn’t try to do this, but you’re an idiot,” I said. “Brian and I almost divorced over you. You’re a major fucking idiot.”

After that we lost contact with Kirt. Years went by. The next thing we knew, Brian heard that Kirt had had a massive heart attack. He ended up in the Cleveland Clinic, where they did a quadruple bypass. As soon as he recovered, because he had no insurance, they said, we fixed your heart, bye. He was out the door.

Three weeks later he was back.

“I’m not feeling right,” he said. “Something’s wrong, something’s wrong.”

They found a blood clot aneurysm in his head. They had to remove the top third of his brain. He has two-thirds of a brain left. They discharged him again.

“Where the hell is Kirt?” asked Brian.

He set out to find him. He found him living in Ashtabula, in a dirt-floor shed, living with his dumb-as-a-rock star two hundred pound American Bulldog, Louie.

“This is my life,” said Kirby. He couldn’t work anywhere. If anyone were to hire him they would be liable for his mistakes.

“Can we take him in?” Brian asked.

“Brian, my mom just got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I cannot take on anymore, no,” I said.

We found friends of his to take him in. Brian got power of attorney so we could make sure his medical stuff got done. But, Kirt’s friend, someone he had gone all the way from elementary school together through high school, didn’t work out. He was a heavy alcoholic and his wife was stealing Kirby’s medications for her own recreation.

What the fuck is wrong with people?

I finally told Brian, bring him here. “At least we’re not going to take advantage of him.” Brian went and got him and his dog. He loves Louie. When he was having his heart attack Louie sat on his chest and kept him warm until somebody finally found him and the ambulance came. He wasn’t going to go anywhere without his dog.

At first Kirt and Louie stayed upstairs in our guest bedroom. After a week, blech, it was too close for comfort. It was time for a new plan.

“How would you like it if I made an apartment for you out of my basement?” I asked him. “That way I have a little more privacy, you have a little more privacy.”

Kirt loved the idea. My dogs, whose basement it was, loved the idea. They loved having Kirby down there with them.

We took out the couch our dogs had destroyed, put in a fridge, and a king-size bed. I told the dogs the bed wasn’t for them. “You’re not capable of having anything nice, you tear it up.” They started totally bumming on me.

Then Kirt piped up, “Oh yeah, they all get to sleep with me.”

“You know what,” I said, “it’s done, it’s your apartment.”

We made the apartment for him. He’s got his fridge, his cupboards, his bathroom. We go grocery shopping for him, take him to the doctor, and we are trying to get him on disability He’s been turned down twice, even though there’s nobody who needs disability more than him. He’s only got part of a brain and his heart works at way less than capacity.

“Third time is the charm,” they said.

He finally got it, but then they said it has to be reviewed, and the review board can’t get to him for the next eighteen months. They pay retro, they told us, but who cares? He could be dead before that. The Cleveland Clinic told him after his heart surgery he wouldn’t last a year.

A year-and-a-half later he’s living in my basement. At least as of right now.

One day I told Brian, I haven’t seen Kirby all day. “Go make sure he’s alive. Just go down. I don’t want to go there.”

Brian went downstairs. The dogs started barking.

“Kirt, you’ve got to clean your apartment,” I heard Brian telling him. “Keep it clean.” My dogs came running upstairs. I opened the back door and let them outside into the backyard. Louie stayed downstairs with his Napoleon.

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Spoon in the Jam Jar

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“Baby, every dog on the street, knows that we’re in love with defeat, are we ready to be swept off our feet, and stop chasing every breaking wave?” U2

I first heard U2 in the early 1980s. I started with War, which was huge. Boy came out before that. Once I heard War I went back to that and October. My brother got on the bandwagon when he heard me listening to them.

You can’t help becoming a fan once you listen to U2.

The same four band members have been in the band since 1976, Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr. They are the best rock-n-roll band in the world. It’s no blasphemy. Don’t blaspheme Bono and U2!

Bono’s name is Paul Hewson and the Edge’s name is David Evans. Nobody calls them Paul and David. Adam Clayton’s nickname is Sparky and Larry Mullen’s nickname is Jam Jar. Nobody calls them that. Bono is Bono and the Edge is the Edge. Adam and Larry are Adam and Larry. It’s just the way it is.

A lot of U2’s music is about Jesus. A lot of people don’t know that. There are not a lot of songs that Bono sings that don’t either talk about or mention his name. Being a fan for a long time I thought it was the coolest thing ever that the song ‘Until the End of the World’ is an imaginary conversation between Judas and Jesus and what Bono was thinking about the Last Supper.

When I started listening to them they were the only band that would go on tour and read the Bible instead of drinking. The only party boy on the bus was Sparky..

Bono lost his mother at a young age, and so did Larry Mullen, who is the drummer. They leaned on each other. When Larry’s mother died Bono was there to help him.

One of the cool things among the many cool things about Bono is that he has given over half of his earnings away to different charities, like Red, which is about the fight against AIDS in Africa, and the One Campaign. Even though he’s got millions, he’s given millions away, because he believes in tithing.

There aren’t too many people like him.

Bono is still married to his high school sweetheart, which is impressive in this day and age. His favorite book of the Bible is Isaiah, which used to be called the Fifth Gospel. Isaiah was a prophet who came out hard and fast prophesying about Jesus’s coming.

I identify with U2 because I was brought up religiously and those guys sing about somebody I worship. The music is good, too.

I saw them live for the first time in 1987 when they came to Cleveland and played at the Municipal Stadium on Lake Erie. It was the Joshua Tree Tour. The Edge says U2 is a live band. I was dead set on going to that concert.

I was in beauty school. I didn’t have tickets and I didn’t have any money, but I was getting there come hell or high water. I saved up all my tips from bartending.

My girlfriend and I parked on East 9th Street and walked all the way to the stadium. I figured scalpers were going to nail us with the price, but we were ready. A guy was standing in the lot near an entrance with tickets.

“You guys need tickets?”

“How much,” I asked.

“Face value.”

His friends hadn’t shown up. They were floor seats, on the baseball field outfield grass.

“Hell, yeah, we want those tickets,” I said.

I couldn’t believe we were on the floor, close to the stage. I was so excited. The Plain Dealer music critic was in the row behind us. I know she was behind us because the next day our picture was in the newspaper with a blurb about how obnoxious U2 fans could be, not staying in their seats, obstructing the view.

I was just so excited that I never sat down. Who sits at a concert? Get up!

Then a fight broke out. Who goes to a U2 concert and gets into a fight? Freaking morons! After it got sorted out we were all moved forwards and got better seats, anyway.

The concert was great, but the fight was ridiculous. It’s a band that sings about love and peace and idiots are going to start fighting? Ridiculous!

It was all so great that, even though I wasn’t drinking, I have almost no memory of the show. I remember running into my brother and his friends, though.

“Can you give us a ride back to our car?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said. He had no idea we had parked so far away. We sat for hours in traffic that barely moved.

“I’m going to kill you,” he said.

I’ve never missed U2 whenever they’ve come here. I’ve seen them in Miami, Virginia, Detroit, too, although I missed going to the Pittsburgh concert with my brother a few years ago. I was having surgery. He got mad about it.

It was Halloween when I saw them in Detroit. Everyone was dressed up. We got high. There were guys dressed like Devo, all of them in orange jumpsuits. I thought it was a poster, not real people.

“Check out that poster, dudes,”

Then they all started moving and dancing.

We were walking down a hallway and a guy dressed like Elvis was in front of us. He kept turning around and looking at us. I tried to focus on him. He finally whirled around, facing us.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked.

He knew we were all completely stoned.

It was a great show, although it might have been greater if it had been the show at the Palace of Auburn Hills one March twenty five years ago during the Zoo TV Tour when Bono ordered 10,000 pizzas for the crowd.

That’s putting your money where your mouth is.

Hanky Panky

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“The more boys I meet the more I love my dog.” Carrie Underwood

It all started when we were in Mexico and Jimmy was staying at our house.

I grew up with Jimmy, we’ve been best friends ever since, but I’m very controlling, he’s very controlling, that can be a problem, and always has been.

When Brian and I were in Mexico, no matter who called us, I answered by saying “Ola!” When Jimmy called I said the same thing to him. “Ola!” Brian and I were having a good time in Mexico.

“You and I are going to speak English today,” said Jimmy.

“What!” I said. “The first thing out of your mouth is not going to be about what I’m not going to be doing.” I hate being told what I’m going to do. After we got home, and after Jimmy got done being sick, I finally blew up.

“Why is she so mad?” asked Jimmy.

“Dude, you kind of did it,” said Brian.

“I respect that,” said Jimmy.

“You treat her like a two-year–old,” said Brian.

That’s what he does. He’s staying at my house, he’s not paying rent, living for free, and he treats me like a two-year-old. He’s like family, but he drives me insane. Brian calls him husband number two. He also calls him my child.

“Go talk to your son, he called, he’s called you forty times today,” says Brian.

Anytime I talk to Jimmy on the phone he tells me how fat my husband is. Brian’s not even close to being fat. He’s fit, but it’s a family joke between them. All they do is sit around and tell each other how fat they are. I say, I can’t handle it, I’m either going upstairs or I’m going to beat the hell out of both of you.

“I think you’re both idiots and you’re both fat.”

But then they start on me, look who’s talking, and the fat jokes come out.

Jimmy comes from a fucked-up background, like me. That’s probably why we hung out together. We both had screwed-up families. Jimmy’s dad blamed him for his divorce, said he was the reason he was leaving his wife, Jimmy’s mother, when Jimmy was in high school.

“You know that’s not true,” I said.

“My dad wonders why I do drugs,” said Jimmy. He did stupid stuff, did drugs, drank, committed grand theft auto, he was so mad at his parents.

Jimmy’s tall, more than six foot, more than 200 pounds. He’s like a giant to me. He was a hockey player once. I always tell him he’s like a big brick wall in my way.

After he moved out of our house Jimmy went down to visit his father in Florida. His dad was once a bigwig cop in Cleveland. He retired to Florida, to The Villages, south of Ocala, north of Orlando. His father was getting divorced at 80 years of age.

“She’s a bitch,” Jimmy said about his stepmother.

“Stop that,” I said. He can’t even talk to his original mother.

He re-connected with a friend of his, Lynn, who lives in Ocala, and who had been going through a divorce for more than three years. Jimmy’s dad keeps a horse at Lynn’s stables.

Lynn is a polo player. He’s found out from her that polo people are scum. It’s a dirty, dirty sport. He doesn’t want her playing it anymore because she’s had heart surgery. If she ever falls off her horse she’s going to die.

“She’s been making comments to me,” he said when he called me. “Do you think she’s coming on to me?

“I don’t know Jimmy, maybe she’s just really nice.”

“Yeah, she is really nice,” he said.

“She is friends with your dad,” I said.

She asked Jimmy to drive her dogs to Santa Fe. He said yes and she flew him and his son JJ down to Ocala from Cleveland. JJ is planning on becoming a Marine, like his older brother. They took her dogs and all the stuff she wanted taken and drove everything to New Mexico. She was planning on staying there for a couple of months

After JJ left she invited Jimmy to stay for a while. That’s when she made her move. After that they started dating.

“She is nice,” he said.

“Ah hah!” I said.

After he came back to Cleveland he finished some classes he was taking, packed up his stuff, and was, all right, I’m moving in with her. He moved to Florida, into her 2.7 million dollar house. She’s the daughter of a rich man. Her parents are like the Dillards are in Cleveland.

But, there were complications. When Lynn’s dad found out she was dating Jimmy, he threatened to kill Jimmy, never mind that Lynn is 60-something- years-old and Jimmy is 50-years-old.

There’s some strange relationship between Lynn and her dad.

It’s a mess what Jimmy’s got going with her. She’s got issues. He was ready to pack up and leave a couple of times. He talked and talked about it.

“I’ll believe it when I see you standing on my doorstep again,” I said.

We all know, but we can’t say anything to him because he is so stubborn.

“When we were in New Mexico all her shitty friends were there,” he said. “She’s only got friends because she’s wealthy. Everybody wants something from her, wants what they can get from hanging out with wealthy people. Jimmy don’t play that, Jimmy don’t date girls for the money.”

“Jimmy, obviously they do,” I said.

Then he found out his 80-year-old dad has a crush on his girlfriend. “He’s always kissing on her,” he said. Everybody in the development thinks Jimmy’s dad has slept with Lynn.

It’s just kind of freaky. He’s trying to be nice to his dad, trying to let him know in a nice way that he’s the old creepy guy.

“It’s just really hard,” he said.

“I bet it is,” I said “I bet it is.”

My Mom’s Pete

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“The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that you will not come back when you go out the door without them.” Stanley Coren

My mom and dad were married for forty-two years, which is a long time, but my mom hated my dad. She just hated that man. She married him for his money.

She was supposed to marry her high school sweetheart, Pete, but he went away to Korea during the war. They wrote letters to each other. She wrote something in one of her letters he didn’t like and he wrote back to her that she was a silly little girl and should grow up.

My mom being my mom, that pissed her off, and she didn’t write back or talk to him again for a long time, years and years. When she met my father, who was from Cleveland, but living in Jersey Shore for a few years, she thought, OK, he’s got money, he’s rich, let’s get married.

In the meantime, Pete wasn’t worried. He thought, when my tour of duty is up I’ll go find her, we’ll make up, and we’ll get married. But, when he came home to Jersey Shore, he found out she was marrying my dad. He was sad, so he signed up again, went back to Korea, and ended up with a bride.

Pete got married to a Korean girl, but they never had any kids. When we were kids he sent my mom a birthday card every year. It came in the mail to Bay Village, where we lived.

My dad died on the first day of 1999. It didn’t take long for my aunt, my mom’s sister, to call Pete. It didn’t take long for him to call my mom. You’re the love of my life, he told her. I’m not going to miss out again.

He apologized to his own wife, gave her half of everything, and divorced her. Less than a year after my dad died my mom married Pete. I had to go to therapy because of it.

He’s a good guy, a sweet guy, and worships the ground she walks on. He loves her and that’s all you can ask for. He never had kids, so having kids now, the four of us, is new to him.

They’ve been great together for almost eighteen years. He’s a sweet man and will do anything she asks. But, he’s also a frugal man, a very frugal man. They disagree sometimes.

They got into a fight over a cast iron patio set. When my mom told him it cost $2500.00 he said it was too much. “That’s nothing,” said mom. She wanted it. They got into a huge fight. She ended up throwing him out of the house. He didn’t know where to go. It was Christmas Eve.

When I called to wish them a Merry Christmas my mom started giving me short answers.

“What’s going on?” I thought.

“I threw Pete out of the house,” she said.

“Why are you such a spoiled brat?”

“I couldn’t remember what holiday it was,” she said.

“Dear God, mom,” I said. “You hold on a minute. I’m going to call you right back.”

I called Pete.

“Pete, where are you?”

“Well, I’m in Kentucky.”

“Why are you in Kentucky?”

“Your mother threw me out. I thought I would just go live in our Florida house.”

He was driving to Florida. “Why wouldn’t you call me, or Betsy, or Brad, and say you need a place to stay?”

“I don’t know. I’m not going to bother you kids. Florida is a place to live for free.”

“You’re driving to Florida, that’s going to cost you money. Pete, turn around.”

“I don’t know, your mother…”

“Turn around! If nothing else, stop.”

He stopped. I called my mom. “You call him right now and tell him you’re sorry.”

“Why?”

“Mom, he’s in Kentucky, he’s driving to Florida to live in the Florida house, because you threw him out.”

“Oh, that’s ridiculous,” she said.

“Call him now!”

She did and he turned around and came home. Since then they’ve sold their house in Florida. Mom had been living there and loving it, but then all of a sudden she got sick, regressed in years, started saying she didn’t want to live in Florida. “I never wanted to live there, I’m glad the house is going, I don’t want to be there.”

When she was young she didn’t want to live in Florida. Now that she’s back at that age when she didn’t want to go to Florida, she’s back in the same place, same frame of mind.

“Do you really want to sell your Florida house?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

“Do you know you have a Florida house?”

Pete went down south, cleared everything out, and sold the house. My best friend Jimmy met him and helped him drive everything back up here. Jimmy had been living at our house, but cleared out and is now living in Florida with his new girlfriend.

What’s sad now is that my mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Pete feels like he’s been cheated, since he was separated from her for forty-two years. He was with her, they were together, for fifteen years and then she got sick. She’s not exactly who she is, who she was, anymore. I think he’s heart broken over that. It’s so sad, but he’s good to her through thick and thin.

There are people who get cancer and brain tumors and get better. Is there anyone who has gotten better from Alzheimer’s? I’ve never heard of anybody like that.

Pete is funny sometimes. I’m never sure if he talks to my mom like she’s still there, all there, or he talks to her how he remembers she used to be. Alzheimer’s can be a terrible thing, because the person you love is there, right in front of you, but they’re gone sometimes, just gone.

He’s a sweet guy, though, in good times and bad times.

Cadillac Cutters

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“A dog’s idea of personal grooming is to roll on a dead fish.” James Gorman

I cut my teeth lifeguarding, then slicing bologna, and finally cutting hair.

I worked as a lifeguard at Bay Pool, but after my parents threw me out I stopped working there and moved to Westlake. I lived with a friend’s mom. When I got a job at the Bay Deli I hitchhiked to work, because in the middle 1980s there wasn’t anything nearby, no Crocker Park, no nothing.

My first real job was at Cadillac Cutters, which I got after I graduated from the Fairview Beauty Academy. My sister worked there and got me the job. All the girls who now work at the Kameryn Rose Salon and Spa in Rocky River, and me, we all used to work there.

It’s weird how it’s all come full circle.

The Cadillac Cutters was a hair salon owned by two men. They were freaks, flamboyantly gay. Terry was tall, had blond hair, and Tom had long flowing black hair. They were always impeccably dressed.

Tom came from money. He seemed to think he was better than everyone else all the time. Terry was a prima donna. Terry always had something on that was cool, suits, while Tom always had something on flowing and silky. They were good at what they did, but they didn’t seem to care about a whole lot of anybody except themselves.

At first I was only allowed to be an apprentice. An apprentice is someone who hands the stylist his combs and brushes. I was supposed to pay attention, too, watching how the highlights went.

I never got the chance to get past the apprentice stage, get on the floor on my own, because the owners screwed up bad, screwed up really bad, with insurance fraud, among other things.

They told everyone they were subscribing to health insurance for us. They took everyone’s money and then never paid the premiums. Somebody took their kid to the hospital and found out they didn’t have insurance when they thought they had been paying for it all along.

They did a little bit of nose candy, too, probably with that money.

I wasn’t allowed to talk to clients, which I thought was strange.

One day I was talking to a client. One of the gay guys spotted me. He took me in the back.

“Shut the fuck up when you’re on the floor,” he said.

“OK,” I said.

“No one wants to hear what you have to say,” he said. “You’re just a lowly assistant.”

I was hurt by what he said because I had been working there for a while. It was embarrassing. I felt stupid. I got so upset I called my dad.

“No one talks to my daughter like that,” he said. “I swear to God, if you don’t walk out of that place right now!”

Then my paychecks started bouncing.

“Oh, Julie, sorry, but we got you these earrings,” said Terry.

“Yeah,” I said, “but I can’t pay my rent with those.”

“They’re really expensive earrings,” said Tom.

“I’m sure they are,” I said. “But again, I don’t think my landlord is going to care, and besides, I don’t know if he wears earrings.” They didn’t know my landlord was my friend’s mom.

I called my dad because they got shitty with me about my money.

“Walk out!” he said.

“Where am I going to go?”

“Walk out. Call me when you walk out.”

When more of my paychecks bounced things came to a head. The day I told my dad about it he was beyond mad.

“You walk out of there right now and I will make sure they pay you. This is my kid!”

I high-tailed it out of there.

He went cold ballistic on them. He did some digging, found out what they were up to, and talked to somebody downtown about it. He sicced the IRS on them. The next thing I knew, the next thing Tom and Terry knew, the IRS was looking things over, shutting things down, and their business was being closed down.

When I had to go back and get my stuff it was awful. I didn’t know if they knew I was the cause of their business closing.

They were shut down for a small while, but opened up another name. It didn’t last long. Cheating is easy. They didn’t know to stay away from easy. Their new staff got tired of it.

Tom and Terry were a couple and lived in Rocky River. I still see Terry at the Heinens Supermarket on Detroit Road now and then. Tom got married, married to a woman, actually. It was kind of weird, but he came from a lot of money, and I think his family demanded that he marry a woman.

My dad was never the kind of father who would take it easy and sit to the side. You don’t screw with one of his kids. You just didn’t do that. He was the kind of father who believed that if you don’t stand up for your children, you don’t stand for much.

He was always ready to attack anyone who was mean to me. I was always his happy girl who smiled all the time. He closed down the Cadillac Cutters never to be heard of again, at least not under that name.

I called my dad on Christmas Eve, even though he had kicked me out of the house, to wish them all a happy holiday.

“Are you coming over to go to church with us?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

I was so happy I was crying. He could hear me crying over the phone.

“What happened? Was it him who made you cry?”

He thought my boyfriend had done something.

“No,” I said.

“I swear to God, Julie, if I need to come over there!”

“Dad, I’m not sad crying.”

“Then why are you crying?”

“Because I just got a puppy.”

“Oh, cool, bring the dog over,” he said.

My dad could be rough with us, but he loved us, and dogs, too. He’s the man who taught me everybody has to stand up for their rights. He was right about that.

Don’t Mess With Lysol

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“I’ve been kissed by a dog! Get some iodine! Get some hot water! Get some disinfectant!” Lucy van Pelt

I spray Lysol on everything. It’s the Windex of all germ killers. I buy it by the case. It’s good for everything. It kills everything, every kind of flu, strep, everything. I spray it on my doorknobs, handles, couches, pillows, blankets, my bed.

Everything.

It soaks in, dries, and afterwards everything smells really good. I like the freshwater scent best.

I have even sprayed Lysol by accident into my water and drunk it. It just happened, not that I meant to, but when it did, I thought, all right, it will kill all the germs from the inside out.

When Jimmy was staying at out house and caught the flu, I sprayed him.

We were in Mexico, Kristen was watching our dogs, but she got sick, got the vommies. Jimmy needed somewhere to stay, so he took over from her. I told him to spray the house down.

“Julie, catching the flu is for weak people,” he said.

Only weak people get the flu? He’s so big and strong? Of course, he got the flu right away. Which is why I had no problem spraying him.

When we got home from Mexico two days later I told him I was going to have to spray him and the couch he was lounging on with Lysol. He didn’t like it, but he gave in.

“Close your mouth and eyes,” I told him. It kills 99 per cent of germs. The ones that survive go back and tell their germ friends, don’t mess with Lysol!

“I swear your dog tried to hop me,” said Jimmy.

“Don’t talk about my dog like that. Which one?”

“Veruka, she hopped me, held me down, I swear she was trying…”

He told me about it while he was lying on the sofa with Fat Pebbles. They are girlfriend and boyfriend. My house is crazy. We have six dogs ever since we got Hermy. You have to be a little crazy to hang out at our house.

“I was upstairs sleeping when Veruka jumped me,” he said. “I was corralling her down to the kitchen, to the basement where their couch is, when out comes your husband, butt-naked.”

“I warned you, if you are going to stay here, Brian hardly ever wears clothes.”

“My God, I thought I was going to go blind.”

Jimmy and I have been friends since 5th grade. We dated a little in the 7th and 8th grades, but he and I are both too controlling to be a couple. He’s controlling, I’m controlling, but we stayed friends. He’s been my best friend ever since then.

We text each other every day all day, forty times a day. If Brian and I are out to dinner, and he says something, I will call or text Jimmy.

“Guess what Brian just said!” That’s the kind of friendship we have.

We ran into Jimmy a couple of years after getting married. He was surprised.

“What are you two doing together?” he asked.

Brian and I are not your typical couple. I was a good girl in high school, Brian was a drug supplier, and Jimmy was one of his drug users.

“I married her,” said Brian.

“You stole my girl,” said Jimmy.

“Oh, God,” I said.

We laughed about it and since then we’ve been back to being friends. We call Jimmy husband #2.

Jimmy’s dad was once a bigwig cop in Cleveland. He used to sit outside Brian’s dad’s house in Little Italy in an unmarked car. The house was bugged. His dad’s job was to listen in. Sometimes he would hear Brian and Jimmy hanging out together. They were both on a bad path.

Jimmy is in and out of our lives. He has a bad temper. He gets mad at you, cuts you out for a couple of years, but then comes back. Jimmy came back into our lives after a two-year stint of being gone. Something happened and he disappeared.

After Kristen got sick and Jimmy took over, if he hadn’t been able to stay at our house he wouldn’t have had a place to stay. He’s in recovery, like Brian, but unlike Brian he had a slip-up and fell off the wagon. He got back on with our help.

Jimmy works with heavy machinery and he’s going to start taking crane classes as soon as he’s over being down and out with the flu, which he caught even though he’s not a weak person, so he says.

I made the mistake of getting Brian a hand bell when he was sick. That will never happen again. He completely abused the bell. Most guys are like that.

After the bell got lost and we couldn’t find it, Brian started called me Sharon. Sharon is Ozzie Osborne’s wife. She can never find anything in their house. My nickname became Sharon.

When Jimmy was feeling better he and Brian went to Malley’s and bought me a box of Bordeaux Chocolate.

Malley’s is an ice cream candy chocolate store. There are 22 of them. We go the original one in Lakewood, which opened in 1935. The Malley family lived in the back of the building back in the day.

When they got back to our house Jimmy left the box of chocolate on the kitchen counter. He didn’t know that dogs can and will eat anything if you let them. I’ve had dogs that would eat green peppers. Veruka, our Leonberger, will eat fruits and vegetables.

When Jimmy and Brian came upstairs Veruka came up from the basement. She busted through the baby gate in the kitchen doorway. Her plan was to come upstairs and accost us. The box of chocolate stopped her in her tracks.

I know she knew the chocolate wasn’t for her. But, Veruka is the kind of dog who doesn’t care, just doesn’t care. She ate my whole box of Bordeaux Chocolate on her way upstairs. Her dog mouth dog lips dog tongue were all chocolaty.

She was licking it off her face. There was no need for Lysol.

Dog Whistler

  Chapter 28

“Dogs got personality. Personality goes a long way.” Jules Winnfield, ‘Pulp Fiction’

All my dogs are friendly, sometimes too friendly. I can let anybody in the house and they are going to rush you with excitement. They are going to jump on you and hug you. Baby, who is our full-grown Leonberger, accidentally punched my girlfriend and me in the face trying to hug us. I had a cut on my nose. She got a bad bruise.

When my cousin from Jersey Shore was in town for Thanksgiving, and we were all over my mom’s house for dinner, he asked about coming to our house for a visit.

“You’re allergic to dog hair,” I said.

“That’s OK,” he said.

“How do you want to meet the dogs?” I asked. “One by one, or do you want the bum’s rush?”

“I’ll do the bum’s rush,” he said

He got the bum’s rush.

All five of our dogs were in the kitchen when we stepped into the house. None of them are small dogs. They could hear a different voice at the door, so they got wound up. Somebody new!

The second I let them out of the kitchen they were all over him, all over the couch, pillows everywhere, and all over him again. It was like balloons had dropped and the party had started.

“You asked for it,” I said.

“I love it,” he said.

I had to work Saturday after Thanksgiving. My cousin messed with the dogs all day.

“They got down on the floor with me,” he said. “Except the Husky.”

Nanook is our Husky. He’s my alpha dog. He’s the leader of the pack. He’s not going to snuggle. Our two big babies, Grayson and Veruka, come into the kitchen and start to kiss. Nanook will sit and disapprove. He did the same thing when Boy Boy and Pebbles used to kiss, making low sounds, scowling, being the Godfather.

It’s all talk, though.

Most dogs are their own dogs, their own people. They’ve got personality. Veruka and Baby are our two Leonbergers. Baby is the bigger, older dog, but Veruka is a monster next to Baby. Baby is the sweetest thing ever in this world.

I always have to correct Veruka. I never have to correct Baby. Veruka is teaching Baby some bad tricks, too, which I don’t like.

Veruka ate my wallet and everything in it, my medical card, my bank card, our checks, my tip money. We had to go to the backyard, the stone area, where she takes all her captives. Whenever we give her anything she goes there and starts chewing. We found some dollars, a twenty, and my checks. I found my wallet, but it was all over for it. I just threw it out. But, before I did, I showed it to Veruka.

“Who did this? Did you do it?”

She gave me her look. “Yeah, I did that.” If I tell Grayson he’s a punk he’ll run downstairs and put himself in his cage. If I show Baby something he’s done wrong, he throws himself on the floor and is crying. You can almost see him blushing and turning red.

Veruka just does not care.

Nanook doesn’t like to associate with the other dogs or vie for my attention. When I come home from work I have to let him out on the porch, which means, in dog talk, you come out the back door by yourself and keep it closed so the other dogs can’t come out. You give me some one-on-one.

That’s what I have to do. The second I do, he’s happy and comes right back into the house. That’s his personality.

Pebbles is my whore. She loves to be on the couch, lay on you, snuggle, and just be fat Pebbles. She doesn’t care what you do to her as long as she can lay in your lap, nibble on your fingers, and be fat. She loves her food, When we are ready to give the dogs their treats she shakes her ass and chatters her teeth.

Grayson, our Lab, is special needs. He was in the hospital for months, has a bad hip, and big fat feet. He’s the sweetest dog, but even though he’s only a third the size of Baby, he can take Baby down. He is a strong dog.

He likes to do the window trick, which is jump on our bed, wait for me to open the upstairs window, and stick his body out as far as he can to look around the street. One day Nanook got away from me and ran around the roof. Grayson did the same thing, but slid down the roof when he saw a squirrel go by on the telephone pole.

Dogs get their personalities just like we do, from God, when they’re created in the womb. There’s no such thing as bad dog, although some people train their dogs to be mean.

Even though they’re all grown up it’s Puppy Wrestlemania 24/7 with our dogs. One day they were all on the back porch, all screaming. King of the Back Porch. I thought they were going to come in through the windows. They wouldn’t stop, flying from one end of the porch to the other.

I opened the back door.

“Party’s over kids. No more screaming.” They all came in when I told them the party was over, except for Nanook. He had to get in one last howl.

When I opened the door for him he ran away. When I shut the door he ran up to it. When I took one step out of the door, like I was going to go get him, he lay down on the ground.

Nanook doesn’t know I’m the boss. He thinks Brian is the boss. Maybe he’s right.

One evening after work my dogs started wrestling in the kitchen, all of them, all five of them. It was Puppy Wrestlemania. I yelled at them. Brian wasn’t home. Not one of them stopped.

Brian is like a dog trainer. He’s got that calmness. Whatever he says they listen to. Me, they could care less. Brian whistles and they do what he is whistling for them to do.

Brian and I were fighting, going at it, when he said, “My opinion just doesn’t matter.”

“Alright, I respect that statement.” He looked at me. “Honey how do you like my hair, long or short?” I asked him.

“I don’t know, whatever you do with it.”

“Do you like my hair dark or light?”

“I like it when you mix it up.”

“Curly or straight?”

“Surprise me.”

“That is why I have no time for your non-opinions.”

Suddenly, he whistled at me

“Are you kidding? Did you just dog whistle me?”

“Yeah,” he said.