Patsy Porco

Posts Tagged ‘family’

Duke’s Dog Fight

In dogs, Humor on April 12, 2018 at 1:28 am

Our dog, Duke, escaped from our yard the other day, got into a dog fight, and was Dukereturned to us by our neighbor. He looked fine when he got home, but it turned out that he wasn’t. In the evening, he brushed against the back door and howled like a stabbed wolf … which was pretty much what he was.

It turned out that he had been bitten. The bite was deep and painful. I don’t think he noticed it until he rubbed against the door, but once he did, he wouldn’t leave the bite alone. In minutes, he was standing in the kitchen in a puddle of blood. When I tried to clean the wound, he tried to bite off my hand.

We got Duke two months ago from the local shelter. Since the day he joined our family, he has been sweet and playful. So it worried us when he snarled, bared his teeth, and tried to bite us when we went anywhere near his injury.

The bite was discovered on Saturday night so we didn’t get him to a vet until Monday, since our vet was closed. Two visits and more than $900 later, we had a bag of pills and a sedated dog. That’s all $900 gets you these days at our vet. But I will save that rant for another day.

Getting the pills into Duke was an adventure. I’d stuff them in cheese or sausage hunks and he’d eat them. Hours later, I’d find the pills all over the house. He ate the meat or cheese, secreted the pills in his cheek, and spit them out when nobody was looking. So, I’d try again, with more meat or cheese, and stand over him until I was sure the pills had been swallowed.

As I said, trying to clean the wound was out of the question, unless we wanted to lose fingers or a limb. So we ignored the blood that had dripped down his side and dried on his fur. He was obsessed with the cut, however, so he opened it up every time a scab formed, either by licking it or scratching it with his leg. He was in a lot of pain for several days, until the antibiotics started working, so we had to be very careful when we tried to make him stop opening the scab.

Our first strategy was to put one of those lampshade collars on his head. That kept him from licking the wound, but he could still reach it with his leg. It also made him think that since he couldn’t move his head, he couldn’t move anything. So he would stand stock still like a statue. This was very inconvenient for us because he’s a wide dog and he always managed to be blocking the doorway we wanted to go through.

Since his imagined paralysis became a hindrance to us, we took off the lampshade and put a T-shirt on him, knotting it on the top so he couldn’t lick the bite. Of course, he could still scratch it with his leg, and he did, which left us with a dog walking around in a bloody T-shirt. I don’t know how we initially got the shirt on him, but there was no chance he was going to let us take it off and put on a clean one. The snarling and the snapping of his giant teeth terrified us.

We began to wonder if we had adopted the Devil’s dog. I hoped not, because I wouldn’t have the guts to return him to the shelter. People who work at shelters have a gift for making you feel like bottom feeders if you return your adopted pet, even if the pet is possessed by demons. Fortunately, he went back to being a sweet dog once he felt better.

But, before then, when he was in agonizing pain, he decided he was dying. From reading about the phenomenon and witnessing it first-hand with our last dog, we knew that when dogs are dying, they separate themselves from their family, find a private place to lie down, and wait to die.

Ever since we had gotten him, we would let Duke into our fenced yard and whistle for him to come in. He always responded immediately and raced to the door. That was until he got bitten. After that, he would go out, find a dark corner of the yard, lie down, and wait. No amount of whistling could get him to come in. Of course this always occurred after dark, usually after midnight, so we couldn’t see him, and we couldn’t yell his name for fear of waking the neighbors. Usually it was up to me to walk around the yard with my iPhone flashlight, looking for him. When I finally found him, I’d hiss at him, “You’re not dying. Get the hell inside.” Then I’d grab his collar and drag him into the house.

Things have calmed down now that the pills are working. He’s still bleeding all over the floor and spitting pills in corners, but he’s playful and happy.

You can’t have everything.


Thank You, Rudy

In dogs, Pet Death, pets on August 30, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Rudy1Our beautiful Golden Retriever, Rudy, died two weeks ago. I didn’t think I’d be able to write about it because of how sad we were, and still are, but I want him to be remembered in writing.

Until you own a pet, you don’t realize how hopelessly intertwined their lives become with yours. Every happy, joyful, thrilling, depressing, sad, dispiriting, and even mundane moment of your family’s life is shared by your pet, who contributes to your responses with joy, compassion, or equal boredom. When that pet is no longer with you, there’s a void in your lives and a gaping hole in your family unit.

My parents had black Labrador Retrievers from my teen years on. I never really noticed them, other than as peripheral beings who would lie around or occasionally swim in our pond. I know that my father considered Sam to be his dog, and my mother considered Chaka to be her dog. I’m not sure who Licorice, our first dog, belonged to. I was a teenager when we got her, and too self-involved to notice what was going on around me.

Rudy5My husband, son, and I have had only had one dog, Rudy. He had a personality as big as the house. He was so joyful that you couldn’t help but laugh at his big, drooly grin. Right up to the day he died, my young-adult son would say, “I love his face! Look at his smile!”

We really should have named him Joy. But he had other sides, too, and some were uncannily human-like. For instance, when I talked to him, he would cock his head sideways, like he was really considering what I was saying. When he saw me drinking wine, he would bark and bark so that my husband would notice. When my husband would say, “She’s allowed to drink,” Rudy would snort in disgust and walk away.

He disapproved of many things, so there was a lot of huffing and puffing from him. He didn’t like when I told him he couldn’t have what I was eating. He especially didn’t like when I stayed up too late, according to his timetable. He would bark and bark, and then my husband would yell, “Shuuuuut Uuuuup!” Then Rudy would snort and throw himself down on the rug at my feet. He would also be sure to give me the side eye while I continued reading or watching TV.

Rudy16Rudy was also very conniving. If he was outside and barked to come in, I would open the back door. Then, he’d just stand there. If I didn’t offer him something he wanted to eat, he refused to come in. However, if I closed the door on him, he’d start barking again to come in. Sometimes, if I got too close to him with whatever food I was bribing him with, he’d grab the food and run off like a burglar. We had to admit that he was clever to make us bribe him to do something he wanted to do, like come in.

We had an inkling from the day we got him, when he was barely eight weeks old, that our lives were going to get interesting. Of course he was terrified. We had just taken him from his six siblings and parents. We understood that. So, we tried not to react when he walked into our house and emptied his bowels on our new dining room rug.


Rudy in his homemade “Thundershirt.”

Our patience was sorely tested over the next year, however. He chewed baseboards, ate whole flip flops, and dug up our new carpets like they were dirt. He was terrified of fireworks, thunderstorms, and even rain. We learned that the hard way. One day, we left him alone and when we came home during a thunderstorm, he was happily sitting among endless curls of our new Berber carpet that he had dug up. When he was afraid, he would dig, no matter where he was.

He was also an escape artist. If the front door was open even a sliver, he’d dash out and run all over the neighborhood, behind houses, across busy streets, and onto lawns. I spent many a midnight running behind our neighbors homes, praying that they wouldn’t wake up and call the police. If it had happened to snow, the game level increased. He’d roll and jump and let me get almost close enough to grab him, and then take off.

Rudy2I remember telling a friend that the first months were exhausting, with all of the chasing and crying. “Why was Rudy crying?” she asked. “He wasn’t,” I said. “I was.” Racing up and down streets in my robe in the middle of the night was harrowing.

Rudy put my son through the same paces on their daytime walks. He learned to slip his collar and take off. No matter what kind of collar we put on him, he’d learn to escape from it. There were so many times that my son came home from walks cursing and sweating and dragging Rudy up the front steps.

But, we were always able to laugh, after the urge to kill wore off. Rudy was just so full of life and joy that it was contagious. We were able to forgive him for anything, even the times he pulled the leash out of our hands and dove into the nearest mud puddle or muddy brook at the park. At least those horrifying incidents made for good pictures. And, he always resignedly accepted his fate of being hauled to the dog-washing place.

Rudy13Rudy got bathed or hosed down a lot in the summer because, like all Retrievers, he loved to swim. He’d swim until the end of time, if we let him. We would take him to the dock of a nearby river, or to a nearby dog park at a lake, and he’d fetch balls in the water with all of the other dogs. Playing fetch combined with swimming was his idea of the best life had to offer, not counting food, of course.

Rudy3Rudy had another side, too. He was compassionate to the bone. If any of us were sick, depressed, or upset, he’d be right by that person’s side for as long as it took. He was so loyal that it touched our hearts. When we were sad, he was sad right along with us. If one of us were depressed, he’d lick and lick and lick our faces, letting us know that he loved us.

The day before he died, he was as lively as ever. He had slowed down a little, but not much. He was nine and would be 10 on Halloween. He and I had gone out back and played fetch, and then he dug and ate grass while I weeded my garden. Then, we went back inside and my husband and I left for the movies at 6:30 p.m. Our son was at work. When we came home, around 10, our son was home. I asked him where Rudy was. He said he had just gotten home and he had called Rudy, with no response. That was odd. Rudy was always waiting for us by the front door. As soon as he heard our car pull up, he would bark his head off.

I looked all around the house, and then went to the basement. Rudy was huddled in the dark. He had been sick. We cleaned him and the floor and then tried to get him to come upstairs. He refused, so my son decided to sleep on the basement couch, next to him.

Rudy18The next morning, we discovered that Rudy had been sick several times. We tried to comfort him and tell him he’d be okay. At one point, he demanded to go out back. We let him out. He never came back in.

Our son had to leave for work in the early afternoon, but before he left, he and I tried to get Rudy to the car to see the emergency vet. It was Sunday, and our regular vet’s office was closed. Rudy was very large and weighed more than 100 lbs. We couldn’t lift him, so we dragged him to a sled and got him on it. We planned to drag the sled to the car. Rudy was very weak, but he mustered his strength, stood up, and went back to where he had been lying. We tried again, with the same results. We decided that he wanted to stay home to recover. Our son left for work.

Rudy glassesMy husband and I took turns sitting with him. We truly thought Rudy was just sick and would recover. We knew that he was really sick, though. He had such little strength that, when he lifted his head to drink from his bowl, he couldn’t get his head out of the bowl.

I will be forever grateful that we kept a vigil with him during his last hours. After I sat with him, and told him that he’d be fine, that he was the most wonderful dog in the world, and that we loved him, I went inside and my husband sat with him. When my son got home from work and rushed out back to see Rudy, Rudy looked at him, convulsed, and died. He was waiting to see us all before he left us.

Rudy in poolThe shock was indescribable. The grief was awful. But we had to focus. Flies were landing on him and we had to do something quickly. We wrapped him in his vinyl blow-up pool, and dug his grave. We read that the grave should be at least three feet deep to keep animals from digging him up.

It was late afternoon and the sun would be setting soon. We dug and dug and, about two feet down, hit solid rock. We could dig no further. The sun was now lower in the sky. We could either find another place to dig or use the grave we had dug. Our yard is not an easy place to dig. We had encountered thick tree roots, vines, and rocks, that had to be cut or dug up, after almost every shovelful of dirt was removed. We didn’t know if our digging would be any easier if we started over someplace else.

We decided to use the shallow grave we had dug. We gently lowered him into the hole and covered him with dirt and rose petals from our rose bush. Our son drove to the hardware store and got topsoil and heavy rectangles of sod. We cried and cried as we covered him with more dirt, and then the sod.

Rudy4When we were finished, I walked across the sod to pat it down and made a horrible discovery. I could feel Rudy’s body under the sod. Oh my God. I was walking on his head.

It was dark by then, though, so we decided to wait until morning to do anything else. We placed the sled on top of him, to deter animals (As if that would work. We obviously weren’t thinking clearly at the time).

The next day, I cautiously approached his burial site. Thank God no animals had moved the sled or tried to dig him up. I lifted the sled. I walked on his grave. I could still feel him. It was a really terrible situation.

Our son went back to the store and bought more dirt and more sod. We piled sod on top of sod, on top of sod. This is not the recommended method for sodding a lawn. We didn’t care. We reasoned that, eventually, the first one or two layers would settle around him and then the top layers would lie flat.

That’s what we’re hoping. Meanwhile, there’s an unexpected mound in the middle of the grass. At least he’s safe.

We love you, Rudy. Thank you for nine wonderful years.



Delayed Gratification

In Aging, Humor, Valentine's Day on February 14, 2017 at 3:17 am

It’s Valentine’s Day, otherwise known as the one day each year when couples over-spend in order to prove the depth of their love for each other.

After 25 years of marriage, I might be a little jaded, but my cynicism is practical. My husband and I haven’t stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day. We just move it forward by a few days. The date we celebrate depends on when Walgreen’s reduces the price of their Valentine’s candy by 75%.

I’m not crazy. Why would I settle for one small heart of chocolate that costs $20 when I can have a shopping-cart full of giant hearts for the same $20 a few days later?

I learned the hard way. In our first year of dating, my husband and I were on the way to dinner when he handed me a box of beautiful handmade chocolates (that his friend’s sister made and forcefully sold to all of his friends). I was touched. They were almost too pretty to eat. The candy set the tone for the evening. I was giddy with romance and anticipating our romantic dinner.

When we got to the restaurant, my husband gallantly came around the car to open my door. I stepped out of the car and the expensive candy which was on my lap fell onto the ground and scattered all over the parking lot. That was embarrassing. And expensive for my husband.

Now I get truckloads of marked-down candy that tastes as sweet as it would have on Valentine’s Day, and if I drop it in the street, it’s really no big loss.


Holiday Activities

In Humor on December 29, 2016 at 6:29 pm

My husband just came home from work. I met him at the door and asked him what he wanted for dinner, and if he wanted to go out tonight.

He answered, “I just got home. Let me decompose for a minute.”

“Decompose?” I asked. “Don’t you mean decompress?”

He took off his coat and hung it up. “No,” he responded.

I put on my coat and went out to buy some air freshener.


The House Phone

In family, Humor, telephones on August 13, 2016 at 1:59 am

When you’re of a certain age, you and your opinions run the risk of being considered not-relevant by younger people. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. That’s because, when I was a bit younger, I always cringed when I read the “Letters to the Editor” in our local paper and saw reminiscences by older people about restaurants and stores that used to be in our town, a flood that happened 50 years ago, and people who used to be important. “Live in the present,” I used to think. Now, a few decades later, I don’t want to fall into the same trap.

My blog has a few loyal readers and I think that most of my readers are middle-aged, but not all of them are. I know that some younger people read my blog. I’m not aware of any readers past middle-age, but, then again, when does middle-age really end? There was a movie starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine, where Meryl said to her mother, Shirley, something like, “You’re not middle-aged. I’m middle-aged. How many people do you know who are 120?”

So, when I compose a blog post, I try to write about things that everyone can relate to, no matter your age. But occasionally I do refer to an experience that happened awhile ago, or an object that is considered old-school. Notice that I didn’t say old-fashioned. I make sure to use pop-culture terms when I indulge in a conscious reminiscence.

What’s on my mind now is something that is slowly disappearing and will be missed by many—the house phone. Almost everyone of every age has a cell phone or a smartphone, but many of us who are older than 30 also still have house phones. The younger generations don’t see a need for a phone that is attached to their house or apartment. They do, however, know what a house phone is, because all of them grew up in a house that had one, so as long as I don’t talk about rotary phones, everyone should be able to follow along.

The reason that the house phone will be missed is because it enabled everyone to know what was going on in their family. When it rang, anyone could answer it, and we didn’t know who was going to be at the other end. Kids got to talk to their friends, their parents’ friends, their siblings’ friends, an aunt or uncle, a debt collector, or, if they were really unlucky, their teacher or school principal.

The phone was usually attached to the kitchen wall with a short, curly cord. Some families had phones with really long cords that could stretch around wall corners and up staircases. That didn’t guarantee a private conversation, though. Family members would walk by and overhear snippets of your conversation, either accidentally or on purpose. They’d also yell their comments about your comments so that the person you were talking to could hear them. This was usually very annoying and frequently led to the person on the other end of the line having a front-row seat to a loud family fight. The house phone also enabled everyone in the family to know what everyone else was up to, good and bad. There were few secrets with a family phone, because there was little privacy.

I remember one phone call in particular. It was a Saturday afternoon. Saturdays were always hectic at our house. I was about 10 and had six younger siblings. My mother had just returned from grocery shopping with all seven of us and the kitchen was filled with brown paper bags. My mother and father were putting away the food and talking. The phone rang. My mother picked it up and then handed it to me. Everyone was in the kitchen and the clamor was louder than my caller’s voice. I had to strain to hear.

“Hello,” said the woman. “Is this Patty?” At the time I was calling myself Patty, so I said yes. I motioned to my family to keep the noise down. They got louder.

“This is Jean-Marie’s mother,” she said. I was confused. Why was my babysitter’s mother calling me?

“Yes?” I said. My mother began laughing and then my father belly-laughed at a story one of them had just told. I tried to stretch the cord around the corner of the wall into the hallway where it was slightly quieter.

The woman continued. “I have some bad news. Jean-Marie killed herself this morning.”

“Oh no!” I said over the voices floating around the corner from the kitchen. I went back into the kitchen, covered the receiver with my hand and said, “Please be quiet.”

I turned back to the phone, but my mother grabbed the cord and said, “Don’t you tell us to be quiet. This is our phone and our house. Your caller will just have to put up with the noise.”

I went back to the call. “I’m sorry about that,” I said. “And I’m very sorry about Jean-Marie.”

“I know,” the woman said. “I just thought you should know since you’re one of her best friends.”

“I am?” I thought. “Well, thank you for telling me,” I said.

After I hung up, my parents spun around and asked if I was able to hear my very-important call. I said I was.

Then they asked who was so important that a little noise would bother her?

I said that it was Jean-Marie’s mother.

“Why would Jean-Marie’s mother be calling you?” my mother asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “She said I was Jean-Marie’s friend and she had to tell me something important.”

“Jean-Marie is 16!” my mother said. “You’re 10. Why does she think that you’re friends? And what did she have to tell you that was so important?”

“She said that Jean-Marie killed herself this morning.”

I finally got the quiet I had requested, in the form of a stunned silence.

It turned out that Jean-Marie’s mother had called the wrong Patty. The other Patty, who was 16 and was Jean-Marie’s real friend, also had a last name that began with a B.

Now if that had happened to a 10-year-old on a cell phone, there would be nobody to question him or her and, ultimately, once the shock was over, offer comfort.

Parents miss out on their kids’ secret lives when everyone has his or her own phone and talks behind closed doors (and texts right out in public). Sure, as kids we used to resent being eavesdropped on, but secretly it was nice knowing that people were interested … sometimes.





What’s a Drive-Through?

In coffee, Humor on June 25, 2016 at 1:07 pm

My friend, Rosemary Bartlett, posted this on Facebook this morning.

“Stopped for coffee this morning. And see this…”

House of Fun and Games

In family, Humor on June 4, 2016 at 1:38 pm

House of Fun and Games

My family and I try to add a little fun to every day.

We don’t squirt each other with the sink hose or give each other swirlies in the toilet, though. Our games are usually guessing games, and you never know when the game will be played, or by whom, so your guard is always up, which makes life exciting. Here are a few of the games that are enjoyed in our household:

Who Can Guess What’s Causing That Smell in the Refrigerator?

Who Can Ignore Whatever is Causing That Smell in the Refrigerator the Longest?

How Much Trash Will Fit in the Kitchen Trash Can Before There Are Coffee Grinds on The Floor?

Can We Use Up the New Roll of Paper Towels (or Toilet Paper) Before Someone Puts It in Its Holder?

Let’s Wait and See If the Laundry Folds Itself.

Let’s Wait and See if the Laundry Puts Itself Away.

How Many Newspapers Are Needed for the Pile to Touch the Ceiling?

How Long Will It Take for Someone to Put the Dishes in the Sink into the Dishwasher?

How Long Will Our Clean Clothes Last Until We Have to Do Laundry … or Start Smelling Funny?

How Much Dust Can Accumulate Before It’s Noticeable?

Does a Broom Work As Well as a Vacuum on Carpets?

If We Smell Fire, Should We Investigate or Just Assume the Smell is Coming from Outside?

What’s That Thing the Dog Brought In, and Should It Be Thrown Out or Returned to Its Family?

Is It More Time-Efficient to Clean Up Dog Poo in the Yard Every Time or All at Once?

How Many Drinking Glasses Can Be Left on Every Table in the House Before We Run Out?

How Long Will Fruit Flies Hover Over Rotten Fruit?

How Long Can The Toilet Seat Be Loose Before It Falls on the Floor, Along With the Person On It?

And Finally …

Are Food Expiration Dates Merely Suggestions?

Rudy the Bad-Bad Golden

In Christmas, Christmas, dogs, Golden Retriever, Humor on December 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Rudy, our Golden Retriever, has spent the day lying low. If he could become invisible, he would; in the absence of an invisibility cloak, he attempted to blend in with the furniture (see photo below). As well he might. They say that you have to reprimand dogs immediately when they break the rules, because they won’t remember their transgressions the next day, or even the next hour. They are wrong. Rudy knows he’s in big trouble. Maybe he doesn’t remember why (he does), but he knows better than to ask for any special favors today … or even breathe too loudly.

Rudy 12262014

Rudy’s disgrace occurred yesterday, Christmas Day. My sister, Valencia,* her husband, Mike, and their children, Lana and Jack, invited our family to Christmas dinner at their house in New Jersey. Valencia insisted that we bring Rudy. They have a two-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever named Ozzie. Valencia assured me that the two dogs would get along wonderfully, even though they had never met.

At first, it appeared that my worries were for nothing and that Valencia was right. The dogs were initially wary of each other, but then they sniffed each others’ hind quarters and settled down. I had brought two enormous rawhide bones for them; one was pure white and one was a darker tan. I gave the lighter one to Rudy and the darker one to Ozzie. The kids and I took the dogs into the yard and tossed a ball around for them to fetch. After awhile, we went back into the house. In the kitchen, the dogs were just standing around the kitchen table when Ozzie decided that he needed to demonstrate who the alpha dog was in their house. So he started to mount Rudy. It happened in an instant and if you missed it, like my sister and brother-in-law did, you wouldn’t have known what set off the ensuing dog fight in the kitchen. Rudy, who is generally too lazy to bark for more than attention or food, bared his teeth and snarled. His snarling turned into angry barking at Ozzie. Ozzie barked back in equal anger. We were able to separate them before limbs were torn off. Poor Ozzie was at loose ends. It was his house and he deserved to call the shots, but this seven-year-old Golden seemed to think that he was the boss.

We tried to get the dogs to make up, which was just plain ridiculous. They don’t exactly kiss or shake hands. But, in time, they were able to co-exist in the same space, although they kept their distance from each other. In any event, they seemed peaceful, so we went back to preparing the dinner. Rudy went to the door to go out. Valencia let him out and noticed that he had Ozzie’s bone. He went out and hid it somewhere and came back in. Ozzie then had to go out with Rudy’s bone. Then the fun really started. Rudy went to Ozzie’s pile of Christmas presents and grabbed his stuffed animals and slobbered all over them. Then he went outside, found a big mud puddle and rolled in it. Before I was able to drag him into the house, he grabbed Ozzie’s bone from where he had hidden it. Back in the house, he headed for the living room, where he plopped his filthy body onto the floor. I cleaned him and the floor up while he gnawed on Ozzie’s bone, with Ozzie observing the proceedings from a safe distance. Then I went back into the kitchen.

My nephew, Jack, who had a fever and was resting on the couch, called me back into the living room. He thought that I should know that Rudy had vomited on their rug. Back to the kitchen I went to get cleaning supplies. As I cleaned up the pile, it became obvious that this wasn’t real vomit. It wasn’t slimy or anything. This looked like Rudy had filled his mouth with chewed up rawhide and water and spit it out.

Then it was dinner time. I filled Rudy’s bowl and Valencia filled Ozzie’s. Ozzie decided that Rudy’s dry kibble was far superior to his, so he bogarted Rudy’s dinner. Rudy sniffed at Ozzie’s bowl and rejected it, even though it had his favorite wet food mixed in with the dry kibble. Instead, he took a big gulp of water and disappeared from the room. Moments later, Jack called me back into the living room to point out another pile of rawhide bits sitting in water.

You have to realize that dinner preparations were in the works, and appetizers and drinks had been put out for us and their neighbors, so this subplot was evolving in the midst of revelry. Not everyone was aware of it, just the kids, and the mothers, who had to subdue the dog-induced mayhem.

After awhile, we all sat down to dinner and had a wonderful time. My brother-in-law is a wonderful cook and my sister is a marvelous hostess. We decided to ignore Rudy, who periodically turned up with Ozzie’s stuffed animals, Lana’s stuffed animals, and anything he could stuff into his mouth and contaminate. Ozzie was always in the same room as Rudy, but never too close, as if he were saying, “Look, I’m a good dog. I’m nothing like that horrible Rudy.” All in all, it was a great day. I don’t think Rudy will be invited back again, but I’m hoping we will.

* Valencia isn’t her real name. My mother never would have named her after a type of orange. The other names were changed, as well, but not as creatively.

Blame it on Nella

In family, Humor on November 1, 2014 at 11:36 pm

My brother, Gus, recently moved from Long Beach, Long Island, to Norwalk, Connecticut. My husband, son, and I have lived in Norwalk for nearly 20 years, so Gus asks us for recommendations regarding places to shop, eat, see movies, etc. He recently bought a new suit and the pants needed to be taken up an inch. He also had a sports jacket that he wanted taken in. So, when he asked me for a tailor’s name, I told him that I’d take him to our dry cleaner. Before we left, I scooped up a pile of my husband’s dress shirts to have cleaned there, as well.

Before we went to the cleaner’s, Gus needed to stop at our cable company to trade in an old cable box for a newer, HD version. After he came out of the cable company, we decided to make a trip to Walmart, after going to the cleaner’s. My regular dry cleaner was located on the opposite side of town, so I suggested to Gus that we try another one that was used by my friend, Nella. Nella swears by this cleaner and she has very high standards; therefore, I thought it would be fine. Also, it was on the way to our other destinations. Gus said that it was up to me.

So, we drove around until I located the dry cleaner’s, which I had only visited once before when Nella had to drop off some clothes. We carried in our stuff and I handed the woman at the counter my husband’s 23 shirts (that had been sitting in his shirt hamper for at least six months). My brother gave a few winter coats to a man behind the counter. Then he asked the man if he could have his pants hemmed. The man told Gus to change into the suit pants and then stand on a platform in the corner. Once Gus was on the platform, the man got down on his knees and pulled each of the pant legs down. He didn’t, however, notice that the waistband was hiked up on one side of Gus’s body. Instead, he took a look at the bottom of each leg and said, “This one is longer,” and he pinned up one leg with a safety pin.

I had just finished up with my shirt transaction and turned to watch the adjustments being made to my brother’s suit. Something didn’t seem right. I asked the man if he was going to hem both legs or just the one he pinned up. He said that he was only going to do the one, because the other one was fine. That was when I noticed that Gus’ waistband wasn’t straight across his body. It was the same time that Gus, alarmed, said, “You’re only going to hem one leg?” The man nodded yes, although I don’t think he understood the question; his English skills were very limited. Gus said, “I’ve never heard of such a thing!” I said, “Well, obviously, one of your legs is shorter than the other.” The man nodded sagely. Then Gus said, “I’m not having just one leg hemmed. That’s insane.” The man just stood there. Then I suggested that Gus should pull his pants up evenly around his waist, and that the man should re-measure the pants. Gus straightened out his pants, and the man took out the pin. The man stood back and said, “They are fine now.” “What?” Gus asked incredulously. He then looked at me. “Are they fine?” I said that they looked like they didn’t need to be hemmed at all. Gus said, “But they’re 32 inches in length and my inseam is a 31. I need them hemmed.” The man looked at them again. “They are good,” he said. Gus looked a little exasperated. “Never mind,” he told the man. “Just clean the suit, please. I just hope I don’t look ridiculous when I wear it on a business trip next month.” The man smiled benignly.

Then I remembered that Gus needed to have his sports coat taken in. I handed Gus his jacket and he put it on. It was very loose, and very baggy. The man said, “Looks good.” Gus said, “But, it’s too big.” The man shook his head. “Better too big than too tight. Maybe you’ll wear a sweater under it and need the room.” Gus said, “I am only going to wear a shirt and tie under it.” “It’s okay like this,” said the man. Gus shrugged off the jacket and said, “Great. Just great.” He exhaled loudly. “Just dry clean it, please.”

As Gus and I went over to the counter to get his receipt from the woman who had waited on me, the woman called the man over to her. She was going through the pile of shirts that I had given her. She pulled out a pale blue shirt that was splattered with dark stains. The stains were very large and all over the front of the shirt, the collar, and the sleeves. I hadn’t noticed them when I grabbed the shirts from the hamper. The man looked at me. “This is blood. Lots and lots of blood.” I said, “No, it’s probably gravy.” The man started poking his arm with his finger. “No, lots of pricks. Lots of blood.” “Okay,” I said, “just throw it out.” The woman gingerly picked it up and put it in a trashcan under the counter. As she went through the rest of the shirts, I saw two more that could be thrown out, so I asked the man to put them in the trash. As he bent toward the trashcan, the woman yelped, “Not there! Not there! Put them in a different trashcan!” Finally, we settled our business there and left.

“I wonder why she made such a fuss over which trashcan he used?” I asked my brother.

“Because the blood-covered shirt was in the first trashcan,” Gus said. “She probably wanted to keep that shirt as evidence. That’s how murders are solved. Personally, I’m more concerned about my clothes. Who ever heard of only hemming one leg of a pair of pants? And why wouldn’t he take in my blazer?”

“That is odd,” I had to agree.

“I don’t think he even knows how to do alterations,” Gus fumed. “They have no right to have a ‘tailor’ sign in their window. Why does your friend, Nella, like this place so much? Are you sure she goes here?”

“Well,” I said, “I think this is where she goes. And if it is, she spoke very highly of them.”

“Great,” said Gus, “just great.”

When we got home and told my husband that his shirt might be in the custody of the Norwalk police, he wasn’t amused. “Why?” he asked. “Because the cleaner said that it was covered in blood,” I answered. My husband rolled his eyes. “It was coffee. Remember when I told you that the coffee machine blew up all over me at work and I had to wear a coworker’s extra T-shirt all day?” “Oh, that’s right,” I said. “I remember now. But the cleaner thinks it’s blood.” “What kind of a cleaner can’t tell coffee from blood?” he asked. “Why didn’t you just go to the cleaner that we’ve been using since 1995?” Gus chimed in, “Yeah, why?” I had no answer. “Blame it on Nella,” I said.

Addendum: After Nella read this post, she called me and said that she hasn’t gone to this cleaner since it changed ownership two years ago. In the interest of not causing Gus’s head to explode, I think I’ll keep this new information to myself.

What Should I Do?

In Ethics, Humor, Poll on September 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm

mini water pistols from Veronica September 2013The other day, I was talking to one of my sisters about an argument I was involved in at a recent family gathering.

I told her that I had totally lost my cool when a relative said something that I disagreed with. The result was a very loud yelling match.

This doesn’t happen often with me, and not in years. I usually suppress my anger and then vent all over my husband when we get home.

Lately, I’ve been venting all over whomever is annoying me.

My sister said that this was not acceptable behavior, unless it was happening because I’m getting older.

“You know how some older people have no filters?” she asked. “They say whatever comes into their heads no matter whom they offend. Maybe that’s happening to you.”

“I’m 53 years old,” I answered. “I’m not even eligible to apply for that license for another 27 years.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she said. “Well, I think you’d better find another way to deal with your temper. Why don’t you buy a mini water pistol and keep it in your purse? Then, when someone makes you angry, you can just whip it out and squirt him or her with water.”

“I imagine that would make the situation even worse,” I said.

“Nah,” she replied. “Do it when nobody’s looking and then deny any knowledge of what happened.”

“Yeah, that’s a great plan,” I said.

“How many handbags do you own?” she asked.

“Four everyday ones and three evening bags,” I said. “Why?”

“I think that you should get one for every bag you have, just so that you’re always prepared,” she answered.

After a good laugh, we moved on to other topics.

Two days later, I received a package. Inside the box were 12 colorful mini water pistols.

My husband asked what I was going to do with a dozen water pistols. I told him my sister’s idea. He shook his head and walked away, never suspecting that I might actually take her suggestion seriously.

I am now faced with an ethical question … would it be wrong …

… to buy five more handbags to accommodate the five extra water pistols?


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