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In Messy Memory

You learn a lot of things, living with a dog. The precise limits of your patience, for one. You pick up an encyclopedic knowledge of the relative merits of various floor and carpet cleaning products. And you discover that there is, after all, an organism on the planet that will happily eat poop.

(I mean, seriously, I thought about that a while back -- I really threw some analytical oomph at it -- and I decided it wasn't a thing. No way. Unpossible.

Think about it. That Bear Grylls guy, the survival-expert-turned-deodorant-hawker -- he drinks his own urine. Probably only in emergencies, or so he'd have you believe. I very much doubt he bottles it and passes it out at housewarming parties. But still. The man drinks pee. And yet, he's no poop eater. So far as we know.

Or consider Andrew Zimmern, the pasty culinary cueball from the Bizarre Foods show. I've watched that man put all manner of disgusting bits of filth in his mouth. Insects. Fresh animal blood. Marshmallow peeps. But not once has he traveled into the barren outback of nowhere and chowed down with the local tribesmen on a steaming platter of turds. Probably. Maybe in one of the outtakes.

Then there's Gary Busey. That dude makes "batshit crazy" look positively constipated. If you can eat it, smoke it, snort it, huff it or shoot it underneath your scrotum, then he's done it. And the tabloids follow him around to watch, and report on the depths of his oddball debauchery. And has there ever, even once, been a rag mag headline screaming "BUSEY'S BOOM-BOOM BREAKFAST"? No. No, there has not. I'm just saying.)

What the hell was I talking about?

Oh, right. Learning things from the dog. Uh-huh.

But here's the thing. A few weeks ago, our beloved pooch -- who, to be perfectly fair, hadn't scarfed scat for quite a number of years -- passed away from complications of being very old and more very sick. It was a very sad day, and we miss her terribly.

Except the poop-eating part. Of course.

Now here's the other thing. We lived with the dog for eleven and a half years, which is approximately eleven and seven sixteenths years longer than I can remember. So as far as I know, my wife and I have always had a dog. And we've always been together. We've always lived in this condo. And I've always looked like this.

"When those genius GMO types will learn to grow lettuce leaves the same shape as a slice of bread, I don't know."


The point is, as much as I learned on a daily basis by living with a dog, I'm now learning something by spending a few weeks living without a dog. And that thing is:

I'm a freaking slob.

I'd never realized it before -- probably because there was this snurfling little slobbery Hoover following me around all day, cleaning up my messes. Making many of her own, to be sure. But cleaning up mine. And I had no idea how many there were.

Just this evening, I made a sandwich for dinner. I got the lunchmeat out and slapped it onto some bread. A few bits of loose chicken skittered off onto the counter. Some of it wound up in the floor, probably. Maybe I'll find some later in my hair.

The lettuce was as complete a disaster. When those genius GMO types will learn to grow lettuce leaves the same shape as a slice of bread, I don't know. It seems fairly obvious to me, but then again I don't play god with germanium genomes for giggles. In the meantime, as tonight, I wind up ripping the stuff into pieces, and it goes all over the kitchen in the process.

Bit by bit, layer by layer, I messily botched every single step of sandwich-making possible. Because I always do -- but there's always been the dog to hide my hideous and glaring inadequacies. Mayonnaise dripped down the cupboard door. Bits of wiped with a sleeve into the floor. Bread crumbs sprinkled like morning snow over everything in sight. As usual. The dog would see all of that, and lap and snurf and gobble it up, until the entire sandwich construction vicinity was sparkly clean and shiny,

Shiny with dog spittle, sure. I mean, you can't have everything. Into every life, they say, a little dachshund drool must fall. But it's still better than the explosion of mess just sitting there in the kitchen, waiting for some unsuspecting soul to stumble across it.

Three bites into my sandwich, my wife stumbled into the kitchen, looking unsuspecting. I paused, mid-chew.

"What is this... this... explosion of a mess doing, just sitting here?!"

Yup. That's me. No wonder the dog followed me around all day. And got fat in the process.

So, I'm a slob. They say the first step in improving yourself is admitting you have a problem. I'm ready. I can see that there's a long, hard road ahead, full of counter scrubbing and careful chopping and maybe Swiffing the linoleum on a regular basis.


Maybe I'll just hire a dog to sweep through after every meal, to catch all the gunk I'm leaving behind. That sounds an awful lot easier. And won't give me dishpan hands.

Man, I miss that pooch. And she's missing out on some good eating. Better than poop, girl, that's for sure. That's for sure.

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