Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Jun. 07, 2004 - 1:22 p.m.

"It's Gonna Take an Ocean...Of Calamine Lotion...."

In our last action packed episode, Casey the Wonder Corgi's plans for World (or at least Household) Domination were put on hold for the moment when he was hit by an 8-ton Fed-Ex truck. (Um, and since someone asked: No, strange as it may sound, the truck emerged unscathed from its collision with a 27 pound brainless furball. Go figure.)

However despite the fact that he is relatively immobile, Casey is still managing to torture me by extension.

For the first week after having his leg boarded up the vet told us to give our little herder one pain pill, twice a day.

Ah, the good ol' days....

The pain pills were basically Puppy Percoset. They killed the pain AND his ability to stand. Or stay conscious. During his brief moments of lucidity we would carry Casey outside and plunk him on the lawn, where he would stand immobile and dully relax his pc-muscles to pee. A minute later we would carry him back up the stairs and resume our meal.

No more.

With the pain pill bin exhausted as of last Friday, Casey returned to form. Amazing thing about dogs: they are not mindfull of their own limitations. Despite the fact that he has a splintered bone in one leg, and that leg is trussed up with iron rods and 42 yards of plaster to the point where he can't move it, he STILL attempts to runlikehell!! everywhere. Not only that, but he now wants to return to patrolling the borders of his kingdom. Apparently if he doesn't apply liberal doses of urine to specific trees on a regular basis, our woods are in danger of being over-run by marauding hordes of competing feral Corgis.

So now after carrying him down the steps (which he's already managed to trip over the side of, plummeting 12 feet into our flower bed. Didn't slow him down for even a second) he bunnyhops frantically on three legs to as many trees as possible before his strength gives out. Which is never.

Unfortunately the woods, unlike our lawn, is basically blanketted with only two types of flora: oak trees overhead, and poison ivy below.

The dog is immune to poison ivy, as he is to almost every other environmental intrusion (excepting Fed-Ex trucks). He just wades through as if it were so much air...pees...and wades back.

Alas that I am not a Corgi. I have probably spent close to 10% of my income since I was a paperboy on various balms, lotions and magical amulets that were all supposed to relieve the soul searing itch of that nefarious vine. I was once even hospitalized as a teen when I went to a cookout and somebody threw a few poisous boughs on the fire, the smoke causing my trachea and esophagus to break out and nearly slam shut. Since then I've found that a custom mix of hydrocortisone and Benadryl cream does the best job of keeping me from opening a vein with my fingernails, but it's still one notch below "piercing my eardrum with a golf tee" on the Pleasure Scale.

I've been pretty lucky the past few years, even though I live in the middle of a forest renowned for toxic undergrowth. Years of painfully learned experience have taught me which waxy green leaves to sidestep. I also bundle up to the point of being considered overdressed for a moonwalk when I have to take the dog for a romp. I've probably therefore only gone through, oh, 5 tubes of anti-itch goo in the past 4 years. That's an excellent record.

Well anyway, Friday was Casey's first day off the Corgi Quaaludes in a week, and he was eager to make up for lost pee. I had STRICT ORDERS to keep him on a leash, walk him only on level asphalt, and not let him run or jump as it might shift his leg in the cast (which still has five weeks to go before being removed).

No problemo. No matter how hard he pulled, he wasn't able to generate enough power with only three legs to drag me into the woods. After a half hour he gave up trying and resigned himself to just marking the bushes on the side of the road every four feet. I felt like the Alpha Dog finally. Another half hour passed and he started shooting blanks, so I slung him over my shoulder and carried him back up the stairs.

The next morning - this past Saturday - I woke up early when somebody started running a belt sander up and down my forearms.


I couldn't believe it - I hadn't ventured into the woods for a solid week! But there it was. I looked like I was covered, wrist to shoulder, in nine pounds of salmon roe. Every bend of the elbow, every turn of the wrist, resulted in 10 or 15 ripe ones bursting. There'd be an audible 'pop', then a quick schpritz of disgusting liquid spraying the sheets.

I hobbled into the shower and cranked the water as hot as I could stand then scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and bled and scratched and scratched and scratched and scraaa-a-a-a-a-tched!! until it was time to leave for work.

This was not the morning to wear my penitent's horsehair shirt. This was not the morning to wear ANY shirt, if possible. But I had to go to work, and even though it's radio and not TV, management has some sort of repressive rule about wearing clothes while on the clock. I pulled out the lightest shirt I had from the back of my drawer - a pale blue surgical scrub shirt, stolen from Chilton Hospital's laundry room when I accidentally got lost looking for the cafeteria on a visit to a sick uncle some years ago. It says "Hospital Laundry" on it. Perfect. I wore the matching drawstring pants I stole also. A pair of latex gloves and shoe booties would have completed the look, but I suspected my co-workers were gonna give me a hard enough time as it was.

I was right. It was a relentless torrent from the moment I walked in the place, from producers and fellow announcers alike.

The good news is, it didn't bother me a bit. The bad news is, that was due to the fact that my arms were immersed in a glass blower's furnace, and had the color to prove it. No sarcasm could breach my wall of pain.

Let me tell you an interesting fact about poison ivy that you may already know anyway. You get poison ivy when an oily secretion on the leaf of the plant touches you, then is absorbed into your skin. If you wash off the oil before your body absorbs it, you're safe. Likewise, if someone touches you before you absorb it, THEY can get it. But once you break out in those pretty red bumps you are no longer contageous, even if you slice open someone else's bicep and rub your oozing lesions directly into their muscle tissue. Similarly, YOU don't break out on different parts of your body days after the initial absortion, even if you touch yourself with the affected area. The oils travel through your bloodstreak and crop up willy-nilly as they will. That's how poison ivy spreads across your body - internally.

Which I was finding out intimately as my shift progressed. First a spot on the back of my calf began to faintly itch, and when I absently scratched at it it grew angy and made me feel like I'd applied a branding iron. A half hour later my left eyelid began to burn - my eyelid! Do you know how hard it is to scratch, I mean really scratch your eyelid? Not to mention the fact that I was almost blinded by the constant streaming of pus into my iris near the end of my shift.

And finally, yes...

Little Elvis became a hunka hunka burnin' flesh.

Oh my GOD. People, can we talk?

Now I'm not one of those guys who goes around "adjusting himself" constantly (although I certainly have no particular compuntion against a lingering fondle if the funeral is really dragging). But when someone is attacking my glans with a reciprocating saw, my hand shoots down into my pants of its own volition. I'm powerless to countermand it.

So there I stood at my console, one hand furiously rubbing my eye, the other scrubbing Li'l Elvis down like he was a dirty tub. If only I'd had a Brillo pad! And all the while talking in very measured tones about traffic conditions along the FDR Drive and Cross Bronx Expressway to maybe 4 million people. I'm such a pro.

Unbeknownst to me (or anyone else), our new Program Director arrived that morning to make airchecks of all of us from the Production Room because to she wanted to see if we really WERE such pros. ("Aircheck" means a tape/cd/Mp3 of us recorded directly from the airwaves. We say "aircheck" instead of "recording" because using impressive lingo is one of the perks we get in lieu of pay.) She spent several hours flipping through all the stations we 7 or 8 announcers were covering that Saturday, taping and making notes. Then she gathered her notes and recordings and one by one went into each studio to discuss her thoughts with the individual announcer. None of us had any idea we were being checked until she opened our studio door.

As it happens, I was ill prepared to accept unannounced visitors - particularly a new boss visitor. A new female boss visitor. When Ms. PD quietly opened the door to my workspace, it was at a particularly unfortuitous moment. I had just foresaken my eyelid so as to work both hands into my pants and REALLY give Little Elvis a going over, and was doing just that when she walked in. There I was, eyes closed, both hands rhythmically pumping inside my scrubs, telling the world about a tanker truck accident on the Garden State Parkway. Dressed like a surgeon.

This was the first time she'd ever met me.

It probably won't be the last.

She didn't say a word but laid the cassette tape she'd made of me, along with a typed sheet of her comments, on the console next to my mic when I was done with the report. Then she backed out of my studio just as quietly as she'd entered, never once making eye contact. I had a very, very bad feeling that this did not bode well.

And indeed this morning I had a message waiting for me in our company voice mail system. Our Uber-Boss asked if I would stop by his office after my morning drive shift "for a brief chat".

Good thing I'd thought to fortify myself with Maker's Mark during my show. Of course, I *always* fortify myself with Maker's Mark during my show, so I suppose that was a moot point. Nonetheless, facing something as potentially career ending as a sexual harassment lawsuit/lynching is always cheerier when seen through a haze of bourbon fumes.

It turns out though that I was able to rather adroitly save by own ass by, well, offering to bare my ass. Miss PD was sitting across from me, next to the boss, and still avoiding eye contact when I walked in. Mr. Uber-Boss made some initial pleasantries and then got right to the point.

"Dangerspouse, do you jerk off when you're on the air here?"

Ah, refreshing directness. In this business you get SO used to people couching their intent in volumes of double-speak, to cover their ass should anyone call them on it. They can always claim a different meaning than the one actually intended if their target takes umbrage. But here, having the boss come RIGHT OUT AND ASK ME IF I WAS MASTURBATING, well, I was grateful for this rare example of candor.

I decided to lie.


Uber-Boss just stared at me, tapping his pencil. Miss PD did not look up.

I couldn't stand it any longer. I burst out laughing.

"Aw c'mon boss. We've known each other for 10 years here, right? Have you ever walked into my studio and seen anything more exciting than me choking on a spoon that one time? Really, after all this time you don't think I still get so excited by hearing my own voice on the air that I just can't contain myself, do you? Here, look...."

And with that I rolled up my sleeves and one pant leg and showed the pair the hideous landscape that was my skin. I offered to drop trou right there and show the extent of the spreading, but they both waved me off.

I explained what the problem had been, and they accepted it. Uber-Boss advised me to try to get to a doctor first next time, and allowed as how he too has suffered severe reactions to that very same plant over the years and could sympathise. Miss PD muttered something about how unfortunate it must be to be so sensitive to a common weed, and she was sorry she had misinterpreted my actions. I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to explain myself then bolted for the elevator.


But...do you know what this means?

Anytime, ANYTIME, I feel The Urge at work....I can just whip it out and go to town! What are they gonna say? I have a medical excuse!

BTW, you may be wondering how I got the damn poison ivy in the first place, since I'd taken so many precautions. I was wondering too, until I woke up Sunday morning and reached my hand under NewWifey(tm)'s shirt to say "Good Morning"...and felt her third nipple.

Wait a minute...NewWifey(tm) doesn't have a third nipple!

Not only did she have a third nipple - it was lactating! I shook her awake.

"When did you grow a third nipple?!" I demanded.

NewWifey(tm) looked at me like I was accusing her of being a henchman in Pol Pot's regime. "What the FUCK are you talking about?"

I lifted up her shirt and pointed at the new red protrusion. It looked cold.


She looked down and her eyes widened in suprise. There, on the sternum side of her right boob, was indeed a new nipple. She gingerly touched one finger to it.

Then...she began to scratch. And she scratched some more. And then she scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and bled and scratched and scratched and scratched and scraaa-a-a-a-a-tched!!

"Oh my god!" she said, "I've got poison ivy!"

Yup, she sure did. And within hours we were both spackling ourselves with creams and lotions along all four limbs and every point in between. It wasn't til later that we realized who the culprit was.

The dog.

The last time NewWifey(tm) had been stricken with poison ivy she'd gone to the doctor, who prescribed antihistamines. He also told her that she probably got it from petting the dog after he'd romped in the stuff, because the oil from the leaves stay on fur without being absorbed into the dog, and when we pet them the oil passes to OUR bodies. Since then, we've made a practice of wiping Casey down after every walk during peak poison season.

However when I carried Casey back up the stairs in my bare arms on Friday afternoon....and when NewWifey(tm) held him to her chest while doing the same thing the next day....

We scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and scratched and bled and scratched and scratched and scratched and scraaa-a-a-a-a-tched!! for what remained of the weekend.

It still hurts today, and certainly doesn't look pretty. But by keeping layers of ointment and yards of sterile gauze over 85% of my body, plus liberal applications of Maker's Mark (taken orally), I'm actually able to funtion enough to pound out this over-wordy entry. At least it's taking my mind off the giant cheese grater that seems to be constantly grinding away at what's left of my skin.

Well, I should wrap this up. The dog really needs to be walked.

And if you should ever catch me on the radio, listen to hear if I'm breathing extra heavy for no apparent reason....

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