I was certain that the first thing LeahPeah PeeHead would tell her family about her trip here was that we forced her to watch 22 consecutive episodes of “The Dog Whisperer,” and that she had a hard time not sneaking into our room at night to choke us to death in our sleep. I can’t explain my fascination with this show, only that it is ridiculously satisfying to watch people realize for the first time that ohmigod, you mean the Chihuahua that lives in my house is a dog? And that he isn’t going to one day stand up on his hind legs and tell me in English why he likes to bite anyone who knocks on the door? Because I was confused that he hadn’t done that yet.
Leah doesn’t even have a dog, but she watched along with us without groaning in pain once. I think it was her way of saying thank you for all that vodka. I was surprised to find out that she likes dirty martinis because I have a hard time finding anyone who will drink them with me. I’ll admit that a martini requires a bit of dedication in the sense that the first time I ever drank one I got the distinct feeling that I was swallowing hairspray. After a few the taste started to dull into that of lighter fluid, but now, now that I’ve been drinking them for several years, I can’t wait for that first antiseptic sip. I like knowing that if I ever cut off my arm I could just dip the nub into a martini to keep it sterilized until the ambulance showed up.
Once we finished the last episode of “The Dog Whisperer” recorded on the TiVo, Leah convinced me that I shouldn’t jump off the top of the house in sadness, that a repeat episode would most likely air in the next half hour and we could have another martini in the meantime. That is the first thing you should know about that woman, she always knows exactly when and how to show you that this? This is just life, that’s all, move along. Save your hernia for more important things, LIKE YOUR 15-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER SIGNING UP FOR MYSPACE. Because that’s not life. That’s hell.
Saturday night in the middle of a really uncomfortable Mexican meal with eight people, three of whom we barely knew, she turned to me, hid her face behind the menu and asked, “What are moles?” I knew exactly what she was talking about because the restaurant was famous for its mole sauces, but she didn’t realize that it’s pronounced molé and instead pronounced it as if it were a congenital growth on the human skin. Yummy mole sauces. I teased her about this mercilessly for the next day if only because the genuine look of curiosity in her eyes made me think that she was trying to figure out if they came fried or raw and hairy.
Sunday afternoon she drove off, and I felt enormously sad that she wouldn’t be around anymore, that the most grounded person in the world wouldn’t be around to give confusing, drunken commentary on Van Helsing: “The reason a vampire can throw Kate Beckinsale onto a roof like that without hurting her is because she is wearing breast protectorals.” I would miss that knowing look she would give me over the martini glass, the one that let me know that she as a fellow former Mormon knew better than anyone else how good it tastes. As we said goodbye she gave me a hug and said, “I feel really confident now that if I owned a dog, I would totally know what to do with it. That’s what this weekend gave to me.”