So Horrible It Has to be Shared!

Have you ever had an experience so horrible it had to be shared? Maybe something smells or tastes so bad you cant leave it alone. ”Taste this! It’s disgusting!” Over your poor friend’s protests, you insist. “No really, you gotta taste this! It’s horrible!”

That’s why I have to inflict this story on you.

A few days ago, I got an early start, vacuumed, mopped, changed my sheets, and tidied up before settling into my comfy chair with my laptop to write. As I gathered my thoughts and awaited inspiration, Bud and Buzzy approached the patio door.

Buzzy, my American Eskimo Dog is sedate and well-mannered, so it startled me to see him burst through the patio door like a bat out of Hell before he launched himself half-way across the room into my lap. As Bud headed to his office, he nonchalantly mentioned Buzzy might be suffering from some abdominal distress. Sure enough, Buzzy rapidly spun three three or four rotations in my lap and on top of my computer. I tried to calm his nerves and was assaulted by the smell of feces and the nauseating sight of an excrement-smeared computer screen and filthy clothes. Wisely, as I struggled to dig out from under the tornado of a poop monster, Bud disappeared into his office feigning deafness.

Heartbroken by his poor welcome, Buzzy fled to a place of consolation, my fresh bed. Like his wolf-ancestors, before lying down he made two or three circles to prepare his bed. Miraculously, Bud had somehow become aware of the festivities, as had our other dog, a huge Mastiff mix, Croc. Not wanting Buzzy to have all the fun, Croc inserted himself into the melee. The curious one-hundred twenty pound dog jealously trying to stay between Buzzy and his pursuers complicated the situation exponentially. Croc had no clue what the concern was since he and Buzzy greeted each other genteelly with a sniff of the nether portions first thing every morning, but had no intention of being denied a good time. 

With a bit of a scuffle, Bud shut Croc out while  we progressed to the bathroom as Croc howled in outrage., “I poop a lot more than he does!  Where’s my party?” Not having had a chance to evaluate the situation, I wrestled Buzzy into the sink, but not before most bathroom surfaces took on a fine patina of poop. Holding Buzzy in place, I ran water and added soap for his bath. Very quickly, I became aware a sink-bath wouldn’t suffice. Taking him to a tub outdoors was out of the question, so he was destined for his first shower. Naturally, he could hardly be expected to shower himself, so I climbed in. Surprisingly, that was the easiest part of the ordeal. He behaved perfectly throughout the process.

Fortunately for the sake of our marriage, Bud didn’t get off too easily. While Buzzy and I showered, he cleaned the walls and floors, all the way back to where Buzzy had made his grand entrance. By the time the shower was over was over and Buzzy dried, the bed was stripped and the washer and hamper were full of disgusting laundry. As a special bonus, the sink was plugged with excreta and long, white dog hair, another diversion for Bud.

In the week before, I had intended to get Buzzy in for grooming. Much to his joy, I’d never made it. Though his coat is beautiful, particularly in hot weather, it benefits from regular brushing. I am especially careful to brush him thoroughly before bathing to remove loose hair and minimize matting. Sadly, Buzzy had not advised me of his plans. He was so matted after bathing, I wasn’t able to finish the job in one brushing. I’d brush a while , let him take a break, and pick up with the job, later. Some mats even required scissoring, something I’ve never had to do before. I think I’ve gotten enough hair out to upholster another whole dog. Sadly, all that brushing makes Croc even more envious. He’s required an inordinate amount of brushing, too.

Many hours later, things settled to normal.  Next time I am ready, I’ll be more specific in my search for inspiration.

Our Awful Friends

Freedom at the Awful’s  Illustration by Kathleen Holdaway Swain

Mother was a cruel beast of a woman who rarely allowed us out of our own yard.  I felt so deprived when free-range children passed our house in pursuit of adventure.  Sometimes we were able to tempt them in with our tire swing, zip line, or huge barn, but invariably greener pastures called and we were left morosely watching them amble off to Donnie’s or Joey’s house.  Sadly, we’d pine as the motley crew and their retinue of dogs disappeared down the dusty road.  It wasn’t that we didn’t have wondrous opportunities on our own place;t we just hated being left behind.

Once we accepted our sad abandonment, we didn’t waste time whining to Mother that “We don’t have anything to do.”  I only made that mistake once and Mother set me to hanging out diapers, dusting, and washing woodwork.  In fact, she was mean enough to assign jobs to break up fights.  It’s terrible growing up with a mother who turns human nature against innocent children.

At any rate, a family neighboring us raised their fortunate children with a complete lack of supervision.  Those kids roamed long after dark, before daylight, dropped in for meals all over the neighborhood, drank out of from the neighbor’s faucets, rode the neighbor’s cows, and generally led a charmed life.  Though their name was Offut, I misunderstood it as Awful.  In her frequent dealings with these children Mother reached the conclusion Awful was an excellent name.  She was particularly offended when we came home from town and found them in the house making Kool-aid.  The Awful’s had little understanding of private property and had often had Kool-aid with us, so of course they felt free to help themselves, even if Mother had been careless enough not to leave it in the refrigerator.  Her attitude baffled our uninvited guests.  I think the syrupy floor and Jerry’s standing on the counter helping himself to a pack of Daddy’s cigarettes off the top shelf also ruffled her feathers, but she was the crabby type, after all.  The loss of cigarettes were of particular concern.  A carton cost two dollars and eighty cents, a significant portion of her fifteen dollar grocery budget.  At any rate, she took an unreasonable stance and forbade them to enter the house again when we were gone.  I don’t think they found it particularly disturbing since a couple more packs of cigarettes went missing before Daddy found a better hiding place for his stash.  

Babies and More Babies

I Connie and Marilyn's Toddler Pictures

I was I was eight years old when my whole world changed.  Mother had a baby.  Never having been much interested in babies, this one seemed like a waste of time.  Life was far better before the baby.  Mother was nicer; not constantly carping about being tired.  She’d also gotten incredibly lazy, now expecting me to fold towels, dust, and clear my own dishes from the table.  I hadn’t minded the first time or two, especially when she thanked me so effusively, but when it became obvious she expected it to be a regular thing, I was disgusted.

Not only that, Mother went on and on about how much things cost now.  It made no sense that before the baby, there had always been plenty of money for cowboy boots, the ice cream man, and trips to Grandma’s.  Now we were poor.  She got her stupid baby and now I got nothing.

Eventually, Connie started playing and I loved her  Before too long, Mother got the pathetic mopes again.  She got lazier than ever, sat around with her feet up or took to her bed for hours at a time, sometimes even crying a little.  In desperation, Daddy even hired a lady to help out.  I loved Miss Annie, but she seemed a lot more interested in Connie than me.  Mother did nothing but lie around and play with Connie, till she she started sewing.  She bragged to her friend one day that she’d hand-made and embroidered eight baby dresses.  My jealousy alarm went off.

Kids

“Mother, make something for me.”  I had no use for dainty embroidered dresses, but surely she could come up with something!

“You’re too bigI can’t handmake anything for you.”

I made a point to be crushed, devastated by her selfishness, going out to pout as long as I could manage it.  Fortunately, I had a short attention span and soon got lost in play. The next day, Mother had Marilyn.  By this time, I knew babies quickly got cute, so I loved her from the start.

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