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Wanna Know Who You Really Are? Spit Here.

5 Jun

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So the wife finally convinced me to do this ancestry DNA thing you’ve probably heard or read about. Ya know, you send in your DNA sample to this mad scientist type place somewhere in Utah and a few months later you get to find out you’re not Scotch-Irish like you’ve been told since you were 3 but are in fact one-fifth Bosnian-Herzegovinian with a touch of Latvian Orthodox and a slight dusting of the Saskatchewan Moose Jaw Clan. Which is probably why your family just said you were Scotch-Irish and left it at that. Much simpler.

Anyway, one day the wife hands me this cardboard box and excitedly proclaims, “Here’s your kit! Time to provide your sample!”

I was instantly horrified. The only “samples” I’ve ever had to provide for medical/research purposes involved either (a) needles, blood, and pain; (b) sitting alone in a room with a tiny container, some tissues, and a “men’s” magazine while trying hard to think sexy thoughts; or (c) forcibly going to the bathroom and then, while completely mortified, placing my uncomfortably warm “sample” into a tray in the wall of my examination room while praying to God no one opens the tray from the other side of the wall while I’m providing my uncomfortably warm “sample.”

To my great relief, I found out that the ancestry guys just wanted my spit. For a moment, as I self-consciously began earnestly trying to hock up a nice loogie, I eyed Ralph asleep on the floor and pondered what the results would be if I gave them a vial of elderly long-haired dachshund saliva. “Dear Mr. White,” I envisioned, “from your unique DNA sample, our labs have concluded that you are eight-tenths Old World German with a family history of hunting badgers and an unusual tendency toward heartworm. For long-term health, you may consider drinking less from the toilet and going for ‘walkies’ at least three times a week.”

But no, I diligently hocked up my sample, sealed my little vial, and we both shipped off our DNA data in hopes of discovering if great-great-great-great-great grandpappy was perhaps Nebuchadnezzar II or Spike Jones or whoever.

We have since been in the “waiting phase,” while—according to the company literature—the DNA lab experts and biochemists in white labcoats spend arduous weeks attempting to deconstruct our respective spittles down to the double-helix level and painstakingly extract our ancestry information. A substantial part of me thinks that in reality, there’s a big basement room in Provo somewhere with a giant wall map of the world and a bunch of guys in t-shirts and sweatpants armed with darts.

“OK,” a rotund guy yells out, still munching a pizza crust, slouched at his chair. “Watch out. This one is for, let’s see, this dude’s name is ‘White.’” He reaches into a coffee can full of darts, takes a dart and heaves it at the wall. “Rocko,” the guy yells. “Where’d that hit?”

Rocko takes a swig of Miller Lite from a longneck bottle and shuffles over to the map. “It’s in the middle of the damn ocean. Try again.”

The rotund “lab expert” sighs and throws another. “Bingo!”

Rocko burps and leans down to inspect the dart’s landing zone. “Bolivia. Somewhere in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Wow.”

“How ’bout that? Bet the guy never knew he was one-quarter Titicacan. OK, watch out, here goes again…”

I’m hoping that’s not how it goes, but the cynic in me can’t help but think the whole thing is at least a little bit scammy. I did read somewhere that the results aren’t 100 percent accurate and that some folks tend to be over-identified Scandinavian for some reason. I guess Scandinavian is the default heritage, kind of like on the Magic 8 Ball how more times than not the answer is “Results Hazy. Try Again Later.”

 

Roger White is a four-sevenths Scandinavian freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely six-elevenths Creole wife, two half-Sri Lankan daughters, a full-blooded Obesian dachshund, and a cat that refuses to provide a sample. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Time for Old Rockers to Tinker with their Tunes

24 Aug

by Roger White

A friend recently posted on Facebook a snippet of herself at a Kansas concert, and it really got me thinking. No, it wasn’t a concert in Topeka—it was a show featuring that well-seasoned rock band Kansas. Yes, they’re actually still around, and yes, they’re actually still touring. My first thought upon viewing this short clip was to make a mental sticky-note to myself, which will read: “Note to self: Never post a clip on Facebook of you singing along with any band anywhere.” All you can hear in this video clip is our friend wailing out “Carry On My Wayward Son” at the top of her lungs, presumably as the guys on stage paid to sing the song are doing likewise. It weren’t pretty.

The second thought that swam across the shallow stream of consciousness that is my brain was “Aren’t the members of Kansas like, 87 years old now? Shouldn’t they be singing something like ‘Carry On My Wayward Grandson’?”

gads

Apparently, as Bob Seger opined long ago, rock and roll never forgets—as will attest many an aging rock outfit (they call them “legacy bands” now, which is code for “old fart rockers”). And these antique acts haven’t forgotten that we old fart fans will still pay good cash money to hear “Satisfaction” or “Born to Run” live just one more time before we all keel over. It’s amazing how many wrinkled ol—er, I mean, legacy bands are still at it. Just look at the lineup for Austin’s One World Theatre for any given month; nine out of ten acts playing there are card-carrying AARP members.

And this got me thinking further. I do believe it’s time for some of these long-in-the-tooth bands to tinker with their repertoire a bit to more properly reflect where they are in life. I mean, come on, Donny Osmond’s pushing 60. Can he still authentically pine about his “Puppy Love”? Instead of “Dust in the Wind,” Kansas should be singing something more along the lines of “Dust in Your Depends.”

double gads

So, herewith are some gentle oldspouse suggestions for revisions to many of our generation’s classic, albeit geriatric, gems, in no particular order:

  • The Rolling Stones: “I Can’t Hear You Knocking”; “Ruby Snoozeday”; “When the Hip Goes Out”; “You Always Forget What You Want”
  • Chicago: “Does Anybody Really Know What Day This Is?”; “If You Bathe Me Now”; “Questions 67 and, Uh”
  • The Eagles: “Hotel Neuralgia”; “Life with the Gas Pain”; “Glaucoma Sunrise”; “After the Pills Are Gone”
  • The Who: “Talkin’ ’Bout my Medication”; “Behind Bad Eyes”
  • Bad Company: “Feel Like Makin’ Fudge”; “Rockin’ Chair Fantasy”; “Can’t Get Enough of Your Prunes”
  • Black Sabbath: “Iron (Deficiency) Man”; “Hemorrhoid”; “Bark at the Nurse”
  • Beach Boys: “Be True to Your Stool”; “Catatonia Girls”; “Good Fibrillations”
  • Bruce Springsteen: “Vitamin E Street Shuffle”; “I’m Goin’ Down (And I Can’t Get Up)”; “Tenth Avenue Wheeze Out”
  • Crosby, Stills, & Nash: “Almost Grew Some Hair”; “Find the Cost of Lasik”; “Helplessly Scoping”fourple gads
  • Deep Purple: “Stroke on the Water”; “Face Tuckin’”
  • Doobie Brothers: “Long Vein Runnin’”; “Angina Grove”; “Takin’ It to the Sheets”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Rest Home Alabama”
  • Foreigner: “Feels Like the Last Time”; “I Wanna Know What Today Is”
  • Steely Dan: “Rikki Don’t Lose Your Walker”; “My Old Stool”
  • Neil Young: “Down by My Liver”; “A Man Needs a Nurse”; “Enema Girl”
  • The Monkees: “Last Train to Restville”; “(I’ve Got Your) Kidney Stone”
  • Billy Joel: “Just the Way You Snore”; “Scenes From an Italian Rest Home”
  • Todd Rundgren: “I Saw the Nightlight”; “We Gotta Get You a Bypass”
  • Sly and the Family Stone: “You Can Wake Up If You Try”; “Thank You (Falletinme Feed Mice Elf Agin)”
  • KC & The Sunshine Band: “Get Sleep Tonight”; “Shake Your Footies”
  • The Kinks: “Dedicated Follower of Napping”; “You Really Got Gout”
  • Three Dog Night: “Try a Little Dulcolax”; “Just an Old-Fashioned Gallstone”
  • Jefferson Airplane: “Go Ask Cialis”

These are just suggestions, mind you. I had a few more in mind, but you get the picture. Besides, this compilation began to seriously eat into my nap time.

 

Roger White is a freelance old person living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious offspring, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

Faith and Begorrah, They Have Old Dog Homes!

5 Jun

 

by Roger White

 

Well, Faith and Begorrah, you can learn something new every day. Sometimes that—and little chocolate donuts—is the only thing that spurs me to drag my sagging carcass out of the sack most mornings.

LCDAnd speaking of learning something new (and in the true spirit of the stream-of-consciousness rambling rhetoric this forum prides itself on), do you know where the term “Faith and Begorrah” comes from? Or from which it comes, to avoid a prepositionally ended sentence?

From what I’ve been able to gather, “F&B” is a traditional Irish epithet that roughly translates into “By Gosh!” The Irish, of course, being a true Almighty-fearing people, didn’t want to come right out and say “By God!” when exclaiming some revelation or sense of amazement, so “F&B” was used to avoid taking the Supreme Dude’s name in vain and thereby summoning the furious wrath of the All-Knowing One. Kind of like how we say “Jeez!” to show astonishment (or when we smack our thumb with the hammer) to be able to quasi-curse without perturbing the Head Cheese. I believe it was W.C. Fields who used to exclaim, “Well, Godfrey wcfDaniels!” to approximate the G-D swear words. It’s all a bit silly, if you ask me. I mean, do we really think that (a) we’re putting one over on the Omniscient One; and (b) they’re actually keeping a Heavenly Tally?

Me at Pearly Gates: “So, St. P, do I get in the club?”

St. Peter: “Well. You did say ‘Jeez and Crackers’ six-hundred-seventy-two-thousand times. And don’t think we don’t know what that’s about.”

Me: “Aw, Jeez.”

St. Peter: “Ya see? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Me: “Sorry.”

St. Peter: “Oh, go on in. But we’re watching you.”

Aaaaanyway. Original point coming. I opined “F&B” earlier because I received a very kindly response to my recent column about aging pets and comedian Louis C.K.’s “countdown to sorrow” routine about pet ownership. I pondered why we don’t have any old pooch’s homes. And by golly (oop), we do have them!

Reader Elaine Courtney sent me this:

“Hi, I read your column today, and as I do most weeks, enjoyed it. (Most weeks? Hey.) Dogs are my favorite subject, and I mostly rescue seniors. The reason for that is I don’t want a dog to outlive me. My oldest is Baby, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu. He is now snoring away beside me. I have three other ShihTzus, two Corgis, and one recent find, a 14-year-old Basset-Corgi, whose momma went to assisted living in March. I’ve had to say goodbye to two seniors in the past three years …. It is very difficult to let them go, but they all had several years of a great spoiled life that they might never have had.  It’s usually a circus around here, but I love my dogs, and I am lucky that I work from home.

dog-retirement“Two things: One, there are several senior doggie retirement centers around the country, and it is such a great service. I would love to do that myself. I once thought of opening a pet cemetery, but that ran out of steam.

“The other thing I wanted to mention is your Bubbie, I hope you find a good residence for her. Hopefully, that decision is much further down the road. I do older adult services, helping people with errands and chores so that they can remain in their homes or even just have company, someone to play Scrabble with.

“If you need that kind of assistance for her, if it would make her or your life easier, let me know…. Oh, and cute picture of the labradoodle puppy in your article!!”

Well, that photo was provided by Editor Will. Kudos, Will-man. And thank you, Elaine. You’re a sweetie. Payola’s in the mail.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

Learning about Love & Loss — from your Labradoodle

27 May

by Roger White

 

Here’s a quote from comedian Louis C.K. I’ve been pondering lately: “It’s true, everything that makes you happy is going to end at some point, and nothing good ends well. It’s like, if you buy a puppy, you’re bringing it home to your family saying, ‘Hey, look, everyone, we’re all gonna cry soon. Look at what I brought home. I brought home us crying in a few years.’ widdul puppyHere we go. Countdown to sorrow with a puppy.”

I’m not sure I completely agree with the “nothing good ends well” bit, but I do understand what Louis is saying about pet ownership. The animals we bring into our lives, the furry little family members we choose to share our homes and our years with, wriggle and wag and romp their way into our hearts—and then they leave us, as they must. Ralph the rotund long-haired dachshund has been a loving and much-loved part of our family going on 13 years now, and though I pray he isn’t leaving us anytime soon, we do see the youthfulness waning from our once-rambunctious puppy, little by little. Especially lately, Ralph’s step isn’t as spry and bouncing as it once was, trips to the vet have become more frequent as aches and pains and digestive upsets pop up more often, and we’re finding more indiscretions around the house—a sure indicator that old dachour usually well-behaved Ralphie can’t hold it and wait for his bathroom breaks like he used to. Basically, it’s a lot like what’s happening to me. In fact, I would guess the old boy is aging a lot better than me, considering in dog years Ralph is going on about 91 now. I’m not yet 60, and my trips to the vet—er, doc—are a heck of a lot more frequent than Ralph’s, for sure.

Another life event our little family is going through presently involves an aging parent. My dear wife’s mom is at that point where we’re having to seriously consider the assisted living option. At 89, Bubbie is still as sharp as ever—smarter and quicker still than I’ll ever be—but physically her life is becoming demanding, challenging, and increasingly more difficult. I can only imagine how hard that step has to be, contemplating giving up one’s independence for the safety of a care facility. But I must say that some of the places we’ve visited in trying to make our determination are actually quite pleasant. Heck, I could live at some of these places right now—good meals, regular card games, pool and hot tub privileges, awesome meds, no daily rush-hour hell. And you can watch TV all you want!

And this got me thinking. Why don’t we have assisted living for pets? You know, an old pooch’s home. It would be complete with miniature pet wheelchairs, senior dog chow in the dining hall, group physical therapy sessions on such things as rudimentary tail-wagging, cat avoidance pup in chairtechniques for the older canine, most effective facial expressions for begging, stuff like that. Ralph would surely dig those Jacuzzi jets on his aging backbone. I may look into starting something along these lines. Call it, oh, the Lazy Days Sunset Retirement Kennel. Or Sam’s Silver Years Senior Shih Tzu Spot. Elroy’s Elderly English Setter Center? I don’t know, I’ll work on it.

Anyway, I believe Louis C.K.is being a bit harsh, now that I think about it. I wouldn’t call owning a pet a “countdown to sorrow” so much as I would term it a valuable lesson for us owners. Caring for and then letting go of a dearly loved pet, to me, is more a lesson in love and loss. Our pets show us the true meaning of selfless love—and, maybe as importantly, they teach us how to cope with loss. What greater lessons are there?

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Rocky Mountain High, in…uh, in…uh, Woah

23 Oct

by Roger White

So I’m sitting, slightly askew, on the couch the other evening, wincing through the throbs of a pulled lower back, trying ever so hard to catch glimpses of “60 Minutes” in between intermittent stabs of electric pain. Note to self: It takes two people to move the wife’s giant potted sago palm.

Lo, mi amigos, there on my favorite TV news magazine was an investigative piece on the burgeoning business of cultivating and selling, shall we say, pungent herbs in states such as Colorado and California. For medicinal purposes only, mind you. According to Steve Kroft and crew, 17 states have now legalized the medical use of (cannabis…shhh) for treatment of ailments such as glaucoma, side effects of chemotherapy, nausea, and, aha, chronic pain. There are, get this, more than 200 medical marijuana (there, I said it) dispensaries in Denver alone! That means there are more corner Grass-n-Go markets than there are Starbucks in the Mile High City.

Talk about a budding industry. Rimshot. Applause, applause.

It’s interesting to note that although an air of legitimacy is lent to this state-sanctioned drugstore doobage—with barcodes on individual plants and white-coated THC technicians advising patients on characteristics and properties of each strain—that vestiges of the headshop hippie days still linger, specifically with the nicknames attached to different types of product. Some samples: Jack Frost, Blue Dream, Purple Haze, Skywalker Special, Accidental Tourist, Gracie Slick, Agent Orange—and yep, there is still Acapulco Gold.

Try as I might, I’m having a bit of difficulty envisioning an elderly glaucoma sufferer, say, an 85-year-old grandmother with a walker, toddling into her corner Hash-n-Dash. But here goes:

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother With Walker: “Hello, Doctor Stoner.”

White-coated THC Technician: “Please, Mrs. Baker, I’m not a doctor, just a technician. Call me Moon Skye. How’s the glaucoma this week?”

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother With Walker: “Not good, Dr. Moonpie. I ran out of the Lemon Skunkweed two days ago and couldn’t get in until today.”

White-coated THC Technician: “Tell you what. We’re out of Lemon right now, but we’re having a special on Night Train Nebula.”

Eighty-five-year-old Grandmother yadda: “Oh, that Night Train makes me paranoid. Do you have any Blue Monkey Balls?”

White-coated THC blah etc.: “Sorry, Mrs. Baker.”

Eighty-yadda so on: “Oh, all right. Half-ounce Night Train then. And do you have any papers?”

White blah etc.: “Sure thing, Mrs. B.”

Eightyzzzz: “Groovy.”

Sounds hokey, yes, but this is big, big biz. As in the billions of dollars. It’s a green industry in more ways than one. And for those nonsmokers looking for relief, these pot practitioners make cannabis-infused cookies, candy, ice cream, sports drinks, pills, olive oil—you name it. If it can be ingested, it can get you toasted.

Yet, as I squirm here on my couch, twinging with what feels like lower back labor pains, I must settle for a measly couple of ibuprofen, seeing as how Texas doesn’t square with Colorado’s views on pain-relieving plants and such. I know we’re the big, fat belt buckle of the Bible sash and all, but if cooler heads prevailed in the Legislature (get it? heads), we’d see the obvious benefits—namely, crazy stacks of Benjamins in state coffers. And don’t quote me on this, but I bet we’d see a reduction in violent crime and speeding offenses. In fact, I’d predict a spike in tickets and warnings issued for driving too far under the speed limit. And I imagine there’d be a quantum leap in late-night sales of Doritos and caramel corn.

Texas being Texas, of course, we could put our own brand on the business. The possibilities would be practically endless: Texas Tea, Lone Star Lids, Dallas Dimebag, Galveston Ganja, Houston Homegrown, Beaumont Buds…you get the idea.

Naah. I don’t see it happening. That sort of thing is viewed as just too dangerous here in the big state. Besides, there’d be no room for dispensaries amid the gun shops and liquor stores.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

A Penny Earned Is a Penny Spent

9 Oct

by Roger White 

Powerful thing, motivation. Think about it. With proper motivation, master sculptor Gutzon Borglum led a small army of workers from 1927 to 1941 to transform a stark South Dakota mountaintop into the 60-foot high carvings of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln we now know as Mount Rushmore. With an amazing store of motivation, Latvian immigrant Edward Leedskalnin took 28 years to single-handedly construct the astounding Coral Castle in southern Florida, a bizarre collection of more than 1,000 tons of limestone monoliths—all fashioned together so intricately and mysteriously that the estate is a major tourist attraction today.

Yet more unbelievable than that, given the appropriate amount of motivation, a 14-year-old daughter who normally wouldn’t deign to put her dirty dishes in the sink is now dynamo girl—washing the family cars, plucking weeds from the yard, sweeping sidewalks, and (gasp) even cleaning her room. To fully appreciate the (gasp), one must experience this room for one’s self. But if I shared an actual photo of this, this…place with all of you ones then this one would surely be shunned by our young one for a long, long time. And we might risk a visit from a certain one wearing a CPS jacket. But I digress.

Borglum’s motivation was fame, spiced with a hefty dose of national pride. Leedskalnin was inspired by mad genius. Our kiddo? Cold, hard cash. And the fact that she’s been coveting some $100 pair of shorts that she simply must have because “all the girls are wearing them.” Personally, I think shelling out a nice, crisp Ben Franklin for some scant fabric that will likely be passé within three months time is ridiculous, but who am I to argue fashion? I still have a leisure suit in the closet. A green leisure suit. And saddle shoes. Besides, if I can spring for a fiver here and there to avoid yardwork, I say give the kid some real-world responsibilities. Heck, she’s even learning the fine art of negotiation. You should have heard her working her grandmother; she would have made a used-car dealer proud.

Bubbie: “Jamie, I hear you’re needing some money. I’ll pay you five dollars to wash my car.”

Jamie: “Five dollars? Your car’s filthy. Look at it. Twenty.”

Bubbie: “You’d charge your dear, old Bubbie twenty dollars? I’m on a fixed income! Seven.”

Jamie: “It’s a mess! How do you drive that thing? Fifteen.”

Bubbie: “Eight.”

Jamie: “Ten, take it or leave it.”

Bubbie: “Do the windows and hubcaps?”

Jamie: “You’re a hard one, Bub. Deal. Cash up front.”

I must say, watching our entrepreneurial offspring make sky-high stacks (as they say on “Breaking Bad”) has now motivated Mom and Dad. Thanks to our beneficent Bubbie, who has grown weary of her massive collection of mint-in-box Barbies, we’ve recently found ourselves in possession of several hundred anatomically exaggerated blondes in everything from Bob Mackie gowns and Queen Elizabeth garb to Harley leather. Our first instinct was a giant garage sale, but Bubbie scolded us into submission. These are collector’s items, she insisted. Look them up!

So we did. Sweet ghost of G.I. Joe’s grandma, she was right! Apparently, the first edition Harley Davidson Barbie goes for about seven hundred dollars. Another one in that same series lists for almost as much. Whole bunches of these tiny babes sell for pretty pennies, based on how many they made and how hard they are to find. And then there are the variations and errors. On some models, they may have run out of brown paint for Barbie’s eyes, so they made five or six of that line with blue eyes. Or a certain doll may be mistakenly looking left instead of right. Or a certain Ken doll may accidentally have three testicles. To true collectors, these rare gems are the golden fleeces of Barbie hunting. And these crazed toy hunters are willing to pay beaucoup bucks to get them.

OK, I was joking about the Ken doll. Stop searching. But hey, if you need your weeds plucked, I know a kid…

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Grandma’s Toes, Max the Cat, and Words that Don’t Get Along

22 May

by Roger White

We’re pretty sure my paternal grandmother had six toes on her right foot, just so you’ll know. I never saw my grandmother’s feet; in fact, she died before I was born, but I heard the stories. She could swim like crazy. Six-toed grandma, we called her.

It was good to get that out of the way. I feel better, don’t you? Ya know, I don’t understand why anyone wants to poke, or be poked by, another person on this Facenook network. There should be other buttons, like thump, prod, sniff, eviscerate, wedgie, scoot, bump, smack, query, shine, tease, smear, annihilate, fondle, inebriate, push, fluff, excoriate, grope, lick, claw, hack, weatherproof, annoy, rub, polish, whittle, and, of course, probe. And perhaps shower. I have written the Faceplant people, but there has been no reply so far.

So while we wait, I thought I might entertain you with some words that probably haven’t been this close together before:

• Annuitized shoehorn

• Marsupial term life plan

• Heartwarming guillotine

• Variable rate crayon

• Chocolate-covered plutonium

• Endoscopic clambake

• Semi-automatic pudding

While we’re on the subject, I was on the back porch with my cat, Max, the other day, and I noticed this bizarre tic he has. Max is a gorgeous tortoise-shell tabby, gray and black swirled with a burl undertone. He looks like a raccoon without the bandit eyes, and he pets like a chinchilla. He’s very luxurious, and he knows it. He preens a lot. He’s overweight but quite athletic, as all cats are. Whenever Max spies potential prey, be it a swooping silver hawk, a chittering squirrel, or a wind-blown piece of yard lint, he starts issuing these short, choppy meow bits, bouncing his jaw up and down like he’s having a conniption fit. (Please note that some dictionaries make a clear distinction between a conniption fit and a hissy fit. A conniption fit involves many more overt physical movements and gyrations. Apparently, a hissy fit entails merely verbal gymnastics. My sisters, then, were hissy fit queens.)

Max maintains this behavior until he either starts wiggling his butt to go into attack mode or gets bored and falls asleep. Usually, he chooses sleep. Sometimes he attacks. Other times, he falls asleep in the midst of an attack. It’s all rather embarrassing, but he’s our cat, and we love him. I mention Max because it is he who basically runs the household. Max determines whether Ralph, our long-haired dachshund, may pass him in the hallway without assault. It is Max who wakes my wife and me up in the morning by kneading our respective chests until we either throw him to the wall or get up and greet the day, and it’s almost always the latter. It is Max who informs each family member when it is mealtime, and it is Max who keeps the family on our collective toes by zipping at light speed out any door opened at any place in the house at any time. How he does this I do not know. I think Max has a GPS map of our house and all its access points linked to his kitty box or something. I have heard electronic beeps and boops coming from that box when I know Max isn’t in there. Get this, Max can be at the far end of the house, snoozing away with his back feet in the air, but as soon as I crack the garage door just the tiniest bit—PHOOOM!! He’s gone.

The good thing about Max is that he doesn’t roam. When he makes his escape, he just stands there in the yard, eating grass blades and taking the occasional dirt bath. I think he’s just proving a point. “Yep, I can blow this popsicle stand any ol’ time I want. Mm hm.”

For some reason, Max stalks our youngest daughter, Jamie, like she’s wild jungle prey. With the rest of us, he meows and purrs and exhibits the standard cat protocol, but every time he spies our young one he flashes to Arnold Schwarzenegger in that movie with the invisible alien hunter dude. “Get the choppah. RRROOWWRRR.” He gets all puffed and muscly and meows with an Austrian accent. Max and Jamie fight like, well, like cats. I think Max is under the impression that Jamie is another cat. I guess I can see that. I do keep trying to tell Max that Jamie is a human being, but he always looks at me like I’m a used car salesman.

So, OK, why don’t we end this episode with more words that have never shared a sleeping bag:

• Terrycloth opinion

• Inspirational vivisection

• Polyunsaturated mortgage

• Lavender crankshaft

• Lightly salted evolution.

Mmm, yeah.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Oak Hill with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.