the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Good Dog Carl Goes to Prison

During the first year of my relationship with Jon we often discussed the option (necessity) of having children. He dropped hints that he liked kids by telling stories about his many nephews and nieces and by mentioning how much he loved Good Dog Carl books. My way of showing that I wanted kids was slightly less subtle in that it involved a lot of shouting I’M GOING OFF THE PILL IN ONE MONTH, ASSHOLE. GET ME SOME INSURANCE.

For our first Christmas together I got him two Good Dog Carl books because isn’t that just too cute, getting children’s books for a man in his late thirties? It was my way of saying HEY, I’M PAYING ATTENTION OVER HERE. I never opened the books to look at the stories inside, I just knew that there was an adorably ferocious rottweiler on the cover and what kid doesn’t love a story about a monster with fangs that just might be eating his own feces? Dogs do that sort of thing. Think about THAT next time you put Mr. Pebbles in your purse.

It wasn’t until last fall that I actually opened the book Carl Goes Shopping to read it to Leta. Here’s how that ten-minute bedtime story went:

Tonight, Leta, we’re going to read Carl Goes Shopping. “I have to go upstairs to get Aunt Martha’s curtains. Take good care of the baby, Carl.” Wait.


What mother in her right mind leaves her baby in a stroller at the bottom of an escalator in a department store TO BE WATCHED OVER BY A DOG? Do the police know that this is in print? AND I’M THE BAD MOTHER? Leta, I will never, ever leave you alone in a department store with the dog who could be lured away in less than two seconds with a tic tac. Besides, they would never let a dog in a department store. What kind of bullshit is this?

(I turn the page)

WHAT? THIS BOOK HAS NO WORDS? I HAVE TO MAKE UP THE WORDS? Why would I buy a book if I’m going to have to make up the story as I go along? This is too much work. Do they have any idea what kind of day I’ve had and now they want me to make up the words as I go along? Your father is a turd.

(I turn the page without advancing the storyline)

So the baby is riding the dog like a horse. Right. I remember I used to try to ride the neighbor’s dog like a horse AND HE ALMOST BIT MY HAND OFF. They’re headed toward the elevator. Someone in that elevator is totally going to bust this dog’s ass and that mom is going to be sent to prison for abandoning her baby in the middle of the store. Wait a minute, they’re already in the toy section of the store? WHAT A COINCIDENCE that there was no one in the elevator. This is totally UNREAL.

(I turn the page)

So the baby is playing with all sorts of toys. Wow. Babies play with toys. This story obviously has no plot or character development. I’m thoroughly bored. Maybe the dog eats the baby on the next page. Let’s keep going.

(I turn the page)

Now they are in the book section of the store. Um, what department store sells that many books in one place. DING DING DING, that’s right, NONE. This is worse than Star Wars as far as suspension of disbelief. And that baby doesn’t even have a single book in her mouth. She might as well be shooting x-rays out of her eyes and rocketing to the moon from the propulsion of her farts, THAT would be more believable.

(I turn the page)

Now they’re in the hat section and the baby is reaching up to grab a hat off the rack. Please tell me that the whole rack falls on her and the dog pinning them both to the ground. Leta, life can be violent. Especially when your father is driving.

Wait a minute, there’s a sign that says they’re headed to the electronics department. NO NO NO. DON’T GO TOWARD THE LIGHT. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

(I turn the page)

Whatever, that baby is just standing there looking at those television sets MY ASS. Do you have any idea how many cables and knobs and buttons there would be to destroy? TOO MANY TO RESIST. Where are the surveillance cameras? The mother of this baby is halfway to Montana by now.

(I turn the page)

The baby is making a face of frustration. Finally, a depiction of the truth. Can Carl change diapers? Otherwise I’m stopping right now. Wait a minute, they’re lying on a stack of large, hand-woven floor rugs. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH THOSE THINGS COST? More than a mortgage payment, Leta. I doubt that dog has a day job that could pay for any damage he or that damn baby are going to do to those rugs. I know Nordstrom doesn’t sell custom rugs like that. Where are they? OBVIOUSLY THEY ARE IN DEPARTMENT STORE NEVER NEVER LAND.

(I turn the page)

Okay, now this is getting ridiculous. A food section? I could believe a food court, but not a food section. Are they going to get an Orange Julius? Some Chick-fil-A? Let’s get the baby started early on her way to obesity. Unless of course it’s the new low carb fil-A. Then I guess it won’t stick to her thighs.

(I turn the page)

Bullshit bullshit bullshit. I’m sorry, Leta, but no department store has a PET DEPARTMENT, FOR GOD’S SAKE. Birds and dogs and cats in the same cage? That won’t even happen in Heaven, let alone Dillard’s. Why am I still reading this book. BECAUSE I WANT TO SEE THAT MOTHER FRY.

(I turn the page)

The dog and the baby have let all the animals out of the cages and it’s total chaos. This could have been exciting IF IT HAD HAPPENED, OH, TEN PAGES AGO.

(I turn the page)

Okay, so here’s where the learning comes in. Here’s where they realize that they have to get back to the stroller so that no one finds out that they’ve been gone and stealing hats and shitting on rugs and letting the animals roam free. And there’s the mom coming down the escalator as if nothing has ever happened, the baby back in the stroller acting all innocent and the dog playing dumb. And then the mother leans down, pats Carl on the head and says, “Good dog, Carl.”

Yeah, GOOD DOG, CARL. Thanks for helping me carry out a successful felony. I REALLY needed to get Aunt Martha those curtains.

Next time we read this story, Leta, the story is going to end with the cops swarming the building and as they are about to shoot Carl whom they think has kidnapped the baby he pounces on the woman AND RIPS OUT HER DEAD BLACK HEART.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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