Dog Day: If Vodka is an Elsie, then Beer is a Chaser*
*Or, How Our Puppy Got Her Name
Once, several years ago, I read in a women’s magazine that the best time to discuss “serious” issues with your male partner is when you’re in the car, preferably going for a long drive. That way, you are in close contact with each other, it’s quiet and private, he can’t escape, and he doesn’t have to look you in the eye (always an intimacy-buster for men). I have absolutely no doubt that writer knew whereof she wrote. With that in mind, here’s a little glimpse into my past.
(Scene One: Early morning. Ricki and her HH, driving in the car, circa February, 2006.)
Ricki (sweetly, with a quiet, loving tone): I just love Elsie so much. But you know, she’s lonely. She lies on her pillow all day, moping and sighing, or else she just wanders over to the window and stares yearningly at the birds and squirrels outside. And I feel so guilty going off to work and leaving her alone for such long stretches of time. Dogs are pack animals, you know. They’re not meant to be alone. It’s so hard on her. She needs a sibling. What do you say let’s get another dog?
(Scene Two: Mid-Afternoon. Ricki and her HH, driving in the car, circa May, 2006.)
Ricki (gesturing expressively): Oh, come on, why can’t we get another dog? You know that you love Elsie. You know you do. Okay, okay, fine; I promise to take full responsibility for house training. I’ll even be the one who gets up in the middle of the night to let her out to pee until she’s trained. Oh, come on, honey, you’ll love it, I know you will. And isn’t Elsie great? Isn’t she? Isn’t she just the cutest thing in the universe? Don’t you just adore her?
HH: Elsie, stop nipping my ear! Get off me! Back! Go on, get into that back seat!
(Scene Three: Evening. Ricki and her HH, driving in the car, circa January, 2007)
Ricki (Despondent. She pouts.): But I have to have another dog. You know how much I love dogs. I am bitterly unhappy! I simply cannot envision my life without another dog in it! Two, two is all I want. Really. I need a puppy. Elsie needs a sister. Seriously, I don’t think I can live without another dog. I will never have another happy moment in my entire life unless we get another dog. (She sheds a tear.)
HH: Elsie, I said get back! This dog is driving me crazy. Go on, get away, I can’t see where I’m—
(Screeching noises. The car lurches to a stop, millimeters from a tree. Silence. The HH glowers.)
(Scene Four. Ricki and her HH. Mid-morning, driving in the car, circa May, 2007)
Ricki (from the back seat): Oooh, look at this little angel! Isn’t she just the sweetest little thing?? Ohhh, hello my little fuzzy wuzzy, ooooh you are so cutesie wootsie, what a darling little puppy wuppy kiss kiss pat pat. . . .
HH: She hasn’t shut up since we got back in the car. Can’t you make her stop crying?
Ricki: Just ignore her. Besides, we can’t really get her attention until she knows her name.
HH: But she doesn’t have a name yet.
Ricki: Well, I’ve got some excellent ideas! How about–
HH: Wait a sec, YOU named Elsie/L.C. You said I could come up with a name for this one.
Ricki: (Suspiciously) Okayyyyy. . . . what’s your idea for a name?
HH: I don’t have one.
Ricki: Well, then, let ME pick one!
Ricki (after a pause): Okay, well, let’s brainstorm. I’m sure we can come up with something. How about related to your hobbies. I know, what about a cute car name, like Bentley, since you love cars?
HH: You mean, like, ”Come here, Ferrari!” Naw, too stupid sounding.
Ricki: Well, what about a famous musician’s name, then?
HH: What, like, “Come here, Rachmaninov!” Really stupid sounding.
Ricki: Okay, let’s look at some of our favorite televison shows. What about Star Trek?
HH: Oh, yeah, like, “Come here, Seven of Nine!” Right. Mega stupid. As if we’re going to find a name in a television show!
Ricki: Hmmmm. What about House? Who are our favorite characters. . . .let’s see. . . .Gregory House, Dr. Foreman. . . .
HH: Really, this is not going to work.
Ricki: There’s Dr. Chase. . . Hey! How about Chaser?
HH: Hmmmnnn. (Pause). Perhaps, perhaps.
Ricki: Yeah, that’s kinda cute, actually, little Chaser. . . .
HH: Sort of like a “chaser” after a drink. . . yeah! Hmm! VERY cute!
Ricki: Yes! And she’s so energetic and bouncy, I bet she’ll be chasing Elsie all over the place–
HH: Okay. I think I like it!
(They arrive home, and, as they both cradle the puppy in their arms, they kiss. They enter the house as a family unit).
(Scene Five. Morning. Ricki and her HH, driving in the car, circa January, 2008)
Ricki: See, I told you they’d get along eventually! See how Chaser just loves Elsie. . . she doesn’t leave her alone, in fact. Actually, I think the only one that Chaser loves more than Elsie is yo–
HH: Chaser, off! Stop nipping my ear! Get back in the–
(Screeching noises. The car comes to a stop millimeters from a flowerbed in someone’s front yard. Silence, followed by loud and enthusiastic barking. The scene fades to black.)
Well, if I learned anything from the experience, it’s this: we sure could use a chauffeur.
(“Um, sorry about that last part, Mum. But since you already told Elsie’s story, thanks for telling mine, too!”)