Yesterday afternoon when I picked Leta up from school I asked her teacher if everything had gone well, wanted to make sure that if Leta had thrown her body on the floor that they were able to peel it off in one piece. She asked if we had any pets, because Leta had told the entire class about her dog, Chuck, and how he lives in the car.
Let’s back up a second. Leta voluntarily talked about Chuck? I asked the teacher if she had threatened anything to elicit this phenomenon, because the only way we can get Leta to acknowledge Chuck’s existence is to hang a Dora figurine over the trash and demand that she look directly at the dog or else DORA DIES. In fact, that’s the tactic we’re using most these days as leverage, heading toward the recycling bin with one of her treasures in hand, giving her the option of either obeying, or this? This Target insert from the Sunday paper, FROM JULY? Do you even have any idea how much pleasure it would be for me to drop it in?
Sometimes I do it even when she’s behaving, for no reason other than that it feels so good.
The teacher said no, she hadn’t specifically tried to prompt this Chuck story, only that she was reading a book about animals to the class when Leta piped up and told everyone about her dog who does not live in the house. It sounded weird that we would force the dog to live in the car, so she thought she’d ask.
Ha! Ha ha ha. No, no, we don’t lock the dog in the car all day, that would be crazy. And we are not crazy. Although, now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t mention that we often like to balance kitchen appliances on his head. Or that we’ve photographed him using a human toilet.
I think Leta says that Chuck lives in the car because he goes everywhere with us and is always sitting next to her in the back seat. It hasn’t always been this way, but in the past four months we’ve made a lot of changes in our lives. It all happened when cousin GEORGE! moved out and we were free of his evil, manipulative influence. I mean, that kid is a bad kid, taught me all sorts of degenerate tricks, like how to make a bomb out of a pineapple, or how to drip a string of spit from a two story window and hit a target. Tricks that DERAILED MY LIFE.
So when he moved out we took back control of our destiny and started eating better and exercising more, and that included taking the dog for a walk every day no matter what. We’ve been diligent enough that we’ve missed only two or three days in the last four months, and this means that Chuck is getting more exercise than he has in years. That in turn means Chuck has slowly become more loyal, and in the last two weeks he’s rarely not in the same room as one of us. He’s even sleeping with us, which is fine until one of us rolls over to give the other one a loving touch, if you know what I’m saying, and it doesn’t matter if he’s in the middle of some wild dog dream, he can sense the loving, and he’ll look up and glare at us, like, are you about to do what I think you’re about to do? That thing where he goes like this, and you go like that? Because I was hoping to throw up today, AND NOW I HAVE A REASON.
When we leave to take Leta to school in the morning he’s there wagging his tail, hopeful that we’ll take him with us. And we always do, I cannot resist his wagging tail, even though Leta inevitably screams that he’s looking at her, or is touching her, or that he’s got four legs. One morning it was, MAMA! CHUCK HAS A TAIL! I DON’T WANT HIM TO HAVE A TAIL! A TAAAIIIIILLLL. A TAAAAAAAIIIILLLLLLLLL!
I’m sure the other parents see us in the parking lot, there every morning with the dog’s face in the window of the car, and are wondering why he’s always with us. Why don’t we leave him at home? Maybe because he would be lonely? He might starve? He might freeze to death out there by himself on the frozen tundra of our living room? Why? Does there have to be a logical reason other than that my dog is cute? If we had four dogs they’d all be in the car, too. Jon thinks this is totally insane, but he has learned to live with it because, let’s just say, sometimes he goes like this, and he would very much like for me to go like that.