|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Feb. 15, 2014 - 3:00 p.m.
Whew. I think I'm finally thawing out. Was that some cold snap nestled there between those two 60-degree stretches, or what? The hill country of northwest New Jersey is usually pretty brutal in February as it is, but this was something special. I can't ever recall voluntarily going out in minus 30 degree temps before, and, Al Gore willing, I never will again. Funny thing, though. When it's that cold - like, single-digit Kelvin scale cold which I was sure it was when I got to work at 4:30am and had to walk across the parking lot in the teeth of a 20 mph breeze - you don't feel cold. It's too cold to feel anything. Except pain. THAT I felt a lot. I stepped out of my car and immediately thought somebody had tazed me. Just about all of my body was layered in scarves and alpaca shavings and penguin down and bubble-goose and beaver pelts and yak butter, but it didn't matter. The two square centimeters around my eyes were uncovered, and that's all the cold needed to bypass my puny defenses and stop my heart. When 17 years after starting out I reached the front door and staggered into the lobby, all I could do was stand stunned for a good ten minutes until my face thawed enough so I could blink. Roald Amundsen wouldn't have made it.
On a positive note, I understand this little dip into frozen nitrogen territory has solved New York's homeless problem. The pigeons feast tonight!
I think I mentioned a few months ago that I put myself on a "OHMYGOD I GOT FAT!" diet. Because, ohmygod, I got fat. I did pretty good at it too, if I may pat myself on my back now that I can reach it. From July to December I dropped 35 pounds. And all it took was a tube of Krazy Glue and 150 Ambien. (Easier than "run 5 miles a day on 2 carrots a day".)
So that's been cool. I'm back down to the weight I was when I got married, and only about 15 more than when I was boxing. Of course the weight distribution is a bit different now (stupid middle age), but as long as I can see Li'l Elvis when I look down I'm happy.
Of course, there is the downside of having to buy new clothes every 4 or 5 weeks. But that was expected, and I got around it by wearing Snuggies everywhere until I reached my goal girth.
What was unexpected though was my fingers shrinking. I noticed this one day while absentmindedly spinning my wedding ring as I watched Adventure Time. I thought, "Why is my wedding ring spinning around my finger? I normally need Crisco and a crowbar just to get the thing off. It must have stretched!"
If it did, it must have kept stretching because soon it began sliding down to my fingernail if I gave so much as a hearty wave. Several times it was left behind in gloves, and once it came off while I was drying my hands in the mens room at work. I had to dig through the wall mounted waste slot and retrieve the wadded up paper towel I'd just also blown my nose in.
And then, the Friday of the Cold Snap, it happened. The ring slipped off and I didn't notice.
I mean, I eventually noticed. Every day when I get home from work, before I can even take my coat off or go pee, I have to throw a green squeaky toy to Casey the Wonder Corgi at least 20 times and cop a feel from NewWifey(tm). If I don't, they each throw a fit. (And god help me if I mix the two up.)
So Friday afternoon, at the start of the Deep Freeze, I got out of my car and clumped on instantly numb legs up the stairs and into my house. I tore my gloves off, grabbed the green ball and tossed it to an already batshit crazy with anticipation corgi, then stuck my hand up NewWifey(tm)'s shirt. Nineteen tosses and squeezes later I was allowed to peel off my outer 5 layers and go to the bathroom. After washing my hands (or so I claim) I made for the bedroom to change into sweats. Along the way I took my watch and ring off.
Except...there was no ring to take off. There was just an empty finger where the gold band should have been.
"Honey" I called, "have you seen my wedding ring?"
"WHAT? You lost it again?"
"I didn't 'lose' it. I just don't know where it is."
"Oh for godsake. Will you either fatten back up or get the stupid thing sized already? No, I haven't seen your ring. Did you check inside your glove? The bathroom waste basket?"
I checked inside my glove, then dumped out the waste basket (why can't feminine products be flushed, btw?). Nothing. I went back out and searched for 15 agonizing minutes inside my ice cube of a car, then re-traced my steps back to the house on my hands and knees hoping to spot a glint of gold on the side of the driveway. Still nothing.
"Are you sure you wore it to work this morning?" asked NewWifey(tm).
"Yeah, I'm sure" I said. "I remember having to wash it off after I sneezed into my hand at the beginning of my shift."
"Lovely" she said. "I bet it fell off there, then."
So I gave my work a call. The guy who answered is a friend of mine, and when I explained what happened he went to my studio and rooted around. "Sorry bud, I don't see it" he said.
I sighed, hung the phone up, and put my coat on. Then I drove the 50 miles back to work so I could empty out all the wastepaper baskets in the 3 mens rooms (yes, 3) I'd used in the course of my shift before the overnight janitor staff dumped them into oblivion. Fortunately for me most men are pigs and don't wash their hands so there was not much paper to sort through. I checked the sinks, the floors around the urinals, everything. Still nothing. I re-checked my studio, the kitchen area, and all the elevators. Nada. I gave up and went home. Just before leaving I hand drew a "Lost" poster and tacked it up in the company kitchen ("Please help keep my wife from being charged in my homicide.")
So...back out into the cold for the 50 mile return trip, back up the stairs on popsicle legs, and back into the house to continue the search.
But when I opened the door, there was no corgi frantically hopping up and down on two paws waiting for me to throw his toy. No wife, either. Very odd.
I sloughed off my arctic gear and went to look for them. Maybe they were hunting for my ring up in the attic or something. But nope, not in the attic. Not in the basement either, or any room in between.
They were outside. In -20 degree weather.
I couldn't believe it. Casey has a doggie door that opens to our back porch, and from there he can walk/slide down a ramp to a fenced-in area of the yard. That's where he was standing now, head down and not moving. NewWifey(tm) was standing on the porch with her arms crossed looking down at him. She wasn't wearing a coat.
I slid open the door. "Honey, what are you doing? Why are you out here?"
She didn't look at me. "Casey started retching a few minutes ago and I don't want to scrub a pile of puke off the rug, so I carried him out here and tossed him down the ramp. You know what I think? I think your ring flew off when you were throwing that stupid ball and he swallowed it."
"But...aren't you cold?"
"I'm too mad to be cold."
I knew not to press it. I closed the door and made myself a sandwich.
Ten minutes later NewWifey(tm) came in, Casey the Wonder Corgi bounding along behind. Her face and hands were robin's egg blue.
"He finally vomited" she said. "Go look through it."
"Why didn't you?"
"My eyeballs turned solid 5 minutes ago. I can't see the yard, let alone a ring."
So I put my coat and gloves and hat and scarf back on and walked out into the dog enclosure. Picking my way around the mine field of frozen corgi turds I finally found the chunky pink mound of expelled material. It was already the consistency of marble. But I had anticipated that and was toting along a ball peen hammer, which I used to shatter the pile into marble sized bit. No ring.
"No ring" I said to NewWifey(tm). I peeled off the coat, scarf, etc.
"Then it's coming out the other end. Good luck. Gimme a ring if you find it." And she laughed at her own joke. Pathetic.
I was not able to partake of that particular pleasure however, at least not that night. I had to get to bed, and Casey stubbornly decided he was going to hold it in. He made up for it the next day, though.
When I got up Saturday morning NewWifey(tm) was already in the kitchen having coffee. She had an early morning meet-up with some stitching friends and had to get a jump on things. Casey the Wonder Corgi was nowhere to be seen.
"He's in the back yard trying to give your ring back right now" she said. "And you should know this is the fourth time in less than an hour. I marked the first three piles with landscaper flags. Have fun." And out the door she traipsed.
I looked out the window. Casey was in full squat and straining hard. Good boy. I couldn't tell from that distance if there was gold in them thar hills though, so it was outside for a closer look. Coat, hat, boots, gloves, scarf, and hammer time again.
The fresh pile I saw Casey pushing out just a few minutes earlier was still soft, but scattering it with a stick yielded no ring. So it had to be in one of the other three. They were impenetrable blocks of ice by now though. The hammer did nothing. Poop apparently freezes differently than vomit (should anyone ever ask you) and repeated strikes did nothing but turn the hammer's head brown.
I suppose I could have gone to the garage and come back with my acetylene cutting torch, but to be honest I really didn't think I was going to survive much longer in temperatures that are only usually experienced on the surface of Pluto. I had to get warm.
But I had to get my ring back.
But I had to get warm.
I went to the garage. I got a shovel. I scooped all three piles up and carried them inside.
I put each mound on a paper plate on the dining room table then went and got NewWifey(tm)'s hair dryer. It took a good 15 minutes on "High" but I finally was able to wedge a chopstick into each one and tease apart the disgusting contents. (I briefly considered defrosting them in the microwave, a machine which would seem to invite that sort of thing with its "Defrost" button, but then I remembered all those YouTube videos of various things exploding in them. The "Risk/Reward" ratio was not good.)
Horrible as it was, I soldiered on and eventually got each mound separated into its constituent parts.
And...no ring. A few stray strands of tinsel from Christmas that finally found the exit, but otherwise nothing other than shit. I looked down at Casey, who'd been sitting at the foot of the table the entire time watching and - I assume - wondering what Daddy was doing with his precious waste. He looked kind of forlorn.
I sighed and patted his head. "It's ok, boy" I said. "You'll make more."
He still looked forlorn, so I went to his Treat Jar and pulled out a cookie. It wasn't his fault if he didn't shit golden rings. I tossed him the cookie.
And he didn't eat it.
He didn't eat it, people.
Unless you know Casey, you have no idea what this means. In the last twelve in a half years there is NOTHING that has dropped from my hand that Casey hasn't at least attempted to swallow. Among other things, I've lost - at least temporarily - car keys, cell phones, golf tees, golf balls, gloves, coins, sponges, several of NewWifey(tm)'s scrunchies, and on one spectacularly memorable occasion, a habanero pepper.
But now he was sitting there with a bacon and cheese flavored cookie at his feet and he didn't even look at it. He just kept staring blankly at me with that forlorn expression, his mouth slightly open.
"Casey, go ahead. You can eat the cookie. I'm not mad at you. Really, I'm sorry I ruined your poop."
Then he started to drool. A lot. He sat stock still, eyes not moving, but with two steady rivulets of viscous goo oozing down each side of his snout and puddling at his feet.
I picked the cookie up. "Well, your loss, pal." And I ate the cookie.
No reaction. Normally if I took his food and put it in my mouth I'd have risked losing an ankle. This was bad.
I had to call an expert.
"Hi, NewWifey(tm)? I need your advice. Casey's drooling."
"Honey? Did you hear me? I said Casey's drooling."
"You...called to tell me that our dog is drooling?"
"You don't understand. I tossed him a bacon cookie and he didn't eat it."
"WHAT?! He didn't eat a cookie? Get him to the vet! Now!"
So I hung up the phone and called the vet. They agreed to see me in an hour.
An hour later Casey was on the vet's examining table, still staring straight ahead and still shipping saliva. After some questions ("Has he had anything unusual to eat? Is he going to the bathroom normally? Did you drop him off the roof again?") he got a butt thermometer and a physical inspection. The vet grabbed one hind leg and moved it around, then the other, then worked his way up the rest of Casey's body poking and pulling and feeling around until he got to the head.
When the vet cupped his hands just below Casey's ears all hell broke loose. In less than a second Casey the Wonder Corgi turned into Casey the Crazed Jihad Devil Spawn Corgi. His eyes snapped from unfocused stare to rolling wildly around in his head, and drool that had been slowly oozing now sprayed in all directions at car wash pressure. He writhed and bucked and twisted and screamed like a banshee. The chubby vet-tech kid holding him suddenly looked like he was trying to reel in a blue marlin. The vet called for a second chubby tech to help.
Between myself, the vet, and the two techs, we managed to pin Casey and clamp a muzzle on him. The vet gingerly lifted the upper lip near the back of his snout and peered in.
"He's got a bad tooth" he said, as if we hadn't all pretty much figured that out already. "Looks like it's abscessed. Very swollen, and badly inflamed."
I didn't like the sound of that. Doggy dentistry is a notoriously expensive proposition.
"Wait a sec..." said the vet, and he grabbed a dental pick. He very carefully worked the pointy end into my dog's mouth, then slowly pulled it back out.
With a gold ring hooked on it.
It was covered in blood and Ghostbuster ectoplasm and flecks of Purina "Fit-n-Trim" nuggets, but it was definitely a ring. My ring.
"It fit exactly around his back molar" said the vet. "It was wedged between his gum and his tooth. The tissue swelled around it so much it was almost completely covered. No wonder the little guy was in so much pain. You're lucky he didn't swallow it."
Lucky? Between the emergency appointment, the antibiotic, the blood work, the sedative for the x-ray, the x-ray to see if the ring busted the molar, the overnight stay for observation, blah blah blah blah blah, Casey's little appetizer fail COST ME MORE THAN A NEW RING WOULD HAVE. Of the thousands of items he's bolted down over the years, why did this one have to be the one he messed up? Dammit. I would rather have picked it out of his poop.
Wait - the poop!
In my haste to get Casey to the vet I forgot to toss out the three mounds of excrement that were sitting on our dining room table!
I gunned it all the way back to Dangerhouse, hoping to get there before NewWifey(tm).
No dice. When I pulled into the driveway here car was there and all the windows in the house were open. It was 4 degrees out.
I knew what was coming but I went in anyway. Despite the cold and all the fresh air blowing through, the house stank like a public restroom in a Dhaka train station.
I'll spare you the entire "WHY ARE THERE PAPER PLATES FULL OF DOG SHIT ON MY DINING ROOM TABLE AND WHY IS MY HAIR DRYER OUT" diatribe I had to endure, since that basically was all that was said, albeit in 150 variations. Finally she got around to "...and where the hell is Casey?"
She calmed down considerably once I explained what went down - or didn't, as the case may be - and that he'd be home tomorrow. She was happy I got my ring back, too.
I really have to be careful until I can get it resized, though. The next morning it almost slipped off my finger again, this time while I was making breakfast fritatta. If I hadn't heard it ring against the metal mixing bowl while I was whisking the eggs it would have been a disaster. NewWifey(tm) rarely looks at what's placed in front of her, and mouth is an order of magnitude larger than Casey's. That ring would have shot straight down like it was on the log flume at Great Adventure.
And her poop is much, much worse to pick through than Casey's. Don't ask me how I know. Let's just say my watch has never smelled the same since.