Cutting down our Christmas tree became a family tradition after I divorced my husband. On my own with two little ones, I was desperately searching for a new holiday “normal.” Though I’d never so much as trimmed a hedge before, I had the brilliant notion that I could chop down a tree. We’d never had a live tree, though I’d always wanted one, and I was finally in charge of the decision. It seemed like a perfect new Christmas activity for the three of us. What could go wrong?
I’m writing a series of essays, collectively called “Marriage Conversations,” around the real-life conversations John and I have on any given day; conversations about anything and nothing. These snippets of dialog are common to people in long-term relationships. I felt compelled to do this to combat the ridiculousness of the Hallmark Channel. As much as John and I love each other, we don’t gaze into each other’s eyes and deliver beautifully-phrased platitudes like “love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
First of all, that sentence – that’s complete bullshit right there.
As if Riley weren’t enough, we also have a guinea pig, Timothy, and he hates all things. He especially hates being picked up. This makes it hard to clean his cage. We have a large playpen for Riley – her puppy time out – and a few months ago I had the brilliant idea of putting Timmy in there (without Riley, of course) while I cleaned his cage. Except the openings between bars were too big and Timmy deftly escaped. Today I tried again, only this time I lined the playpen with a sheet and secured it to the sides, keeping the piggy safe within. I could then clean his cage quickly and easily, and Timmy had some time to exercise as he frantically searched for his Pigloo. I put Riley on her lead in the backyard so I could do this unfettered. And while I was patting myself on the back for my ingenuity, Riley was in the backyard, digging a hole to China. Sigh.
Here we see Riley, an Eastern Red Retriever, in her natural habitat among the tall grasses of suburbia. Sniffing the wind every 1.8 seconds, this stunning specimen can detect a car several yards away, or a bee directly in front of her. Her true talent, though, lies in her ability to see nothing and warn her hoomens of an impending fierce attack. Her hoomens, being an inferior species, cannot see anything or pick up a scent and are, therefore, clueless and ridiculous. Even the young hoomens have no discernible talent for smelling danger on the wind or seeing the Unseen, so it is up to her and her alone.
Despite her incessant barking using her Big Girl Bark, the hoomens will disregard this beautiful creature’s warning and simply throw a ball. But this incredible animal knows that soon, the slaughter from invisible creatures will come, and so Riley, The Big Red Girl, will continue to stand at the ready. Or lie there, stalking in secret, to protect her big, dumb hoomens. It is a thankless task, but one day…they will recognize her for the fierce warrior and protector she is. Until then, she must endure their rubber balls and …. oh, look…a stick!
Riley and one of her Hoomens – the Lady – went for a long walk on a beautiful, sunny day in early summer. Riley decided she wanted to be out for a very long time, so she tried to behave like a good doggie instead of the crack head she normally is on a walk. She didn’t pull the Lady along like she usually does or try to eat every stick or dried up worm on the pavement. This was hard for her, but she was committed to staying outside as long as possible. Today she walked so nicely by The Lady’s side, The Lady thought Riley must be sick.
This is what happens when John goes away for a few days…
Riley, the Big Red Girl, was a little bored this morning. The Lady Hoomen, whom Riley tolerates only because she supplies food and water, wanted to sleep in on a Saturday (rude). Being ever the thoughtful dog, Riley wanted to help The Lady become more of a morning person by waking her up first around 5:30, then 6:00, then again at 6:30. Sadly, it didn’t work, which is weird, because The Lady gets up every day at 5:30 so why should Saturday be any different? Her attempts to help only made That Woman cranky and Riley watched with disgust as she crawled back into bed after Riley’s morning constitutional. The Man Hoomen, whom Riley adores because he’s THAT GUY WHO WAS GONE BUT CAME BACK!!, is away this weekend, and Riley doesn’t understand why he would abandon her, leaving her with The Others to care for her. She’s trying to work through it.