Where the hampster wheel always turns

About Me

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Middle aged underweight high school graduate
"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy

Adventures in Scouting

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I am working on my Eagle Scout award. At least, I think I should be awarded one. Darn all those gender-specific Boy Scout requirements. Anyone who is familiar with the Scouting program knows the mother is just as responsible - if not more responsible - for the attainment of Eagle rank than the boy.

In this process, one of the merit badges we're working on has been Dog Care. This was an obvious selection from the long list of potential badges since we have a dog, and theoretically we care for him. Besides researching various diseases that can afflict the canine species, Unnamed Child #2 (and I) have kept a log of everything we've done for our dear dog over the last two months. This log has been rather intensive since it asks the applicant to log all the exercise, hygiene, food and veterinary care that goes into responsible pet ownership.

What I really think is this whole thing is a ruse to prevent people from ever getting dogs. To see it all spelled out on an Excel spreadsheet is rather sobering, and dog is clearly not pulling his weight around here.

Finally, the two months of recording was over and the last part of the badge is a visit to a veterinarian for a tour. I should have set this up earlier, but I was too busy getting the scout to record each feeding, walk and bowel movement.

Shockingly, our Petsmart located vet, who we really don't know at all, invited us to 'come on over right then'. As it happens, I was ready to go 'right then'; I LOVE it when the universe works on MY schedule. Unnamed Child #2 was playing at a friend's house and completely unprepared to be ripped from his social engagement to do something as mundane as go to Petsmart. I did what any resourceful mother would have done - I took both kids.

Clad in their scout shirts and shorts the vet received them warmly and took them behind the closed doors to the inner vet sanctum.

I waited, and waited, and waited becoming more and more impressed at the length of the impromptu tour. At the conclusion we thanked the doctor and said our goodbyes. I was fixated on signing this dang merit badge off so I could go back to oblivious dog care, where he's fed on an as-needed basis rather than an actual schedule.

Getting into the car, I asked how the tour went. I got the run-down of what they saw, exam rooms, anaesthesia, vaccinations - the sort of stuff one would imagine is in the operational side of a veterinary facility. Then came the good stuff:

"MOM!!! Then, (pant pant) we saw a fetus! A FEEEEE-TUS Mom! A real-life FEEEEEEEEEEEEE-TUS!!!!"

Unnamed Child #2's eyes were as large as saucers and his companion scout kept nodding emphatically like a good side-kick should.

"MOM!! Do you even know what a FEEEEEE-TUS is????"

Now, despite what Unnamed Child #2 thinks, I am not so old as to have forgotten High School Biology, and my own reproductive education. "Yes," I reply, "I do know what a fetus is. What kind of fetus did you see?"

"The vet didn't know. She thought it was a dog, or a cat or a turtle or something, but Mom it was a FEEEEEE-TUSSS!!!!"

Clearly the vet had impressed the scouts who were now vowing to go into a field of veterinary medicine just so they could see another fetus.

I, on the other hand was very concerned that my vet didn't know what sort of fetus she had on hand. Personally, I label my fetus jars to avoid these pesky sort of mental lapses. Fortunately, this won't impact our veterinary care since our dog is a male... but that's a fetus discussion for another day.

Leaving a Trail Wherever I Go

Friday, June 4, 2010

It is a given that I will need to contribute to the future therapy of my children. I accepted this idea before they were born and have established requisite funds anticipating their upcoming needs. I mean, sheesh, they have ME as a mother. I confess that when selecting a dog, I did not believe -until this last week - that he would also need a fund.

Preparing for the oppressive Arizona summer has traditionally meant a tip-to-tail shave for our happy-go-lucky canine. Deciding that I was going to save the outrageous $70 it usually costs I set out to perform the duty myself. How hard can this be?

Laying out the industrial strength clippers, comb, scissors and clipper oil I proceeded to wrangle the beast. He's smarter than he should be and getting him restrained proved challenging. Trying to coax him over to the station I had prepared on the patio was like trying to get a toddler to take medicine. For about ten minutes he stayed just outside my reach. By the time I had him captured and restrained, I had already broken a sweat.

Firing up the shears I stood before him, trying to decide where to start. Not being a graduate of The Grooming Academy, I was a little perplexed on the starting point of this exercise, so of course I just shaved down the middle of his head.

Now I've watched this process through a window at Petsmart before. How hard can it be?

Twenty minutes into my masterpiece I stepped back to admire my work: Clearly this will require the establishment of a canine therapy jar.

But, undaunted, I pressed forward.

Like a suburban Edward Scissorhands, I snipped and sheared as the dog did his best to avoid contact. In his mind this was clearly punishment for the time he ate the entire black fondant-covered cake on our white carpet.

As the minutes turned to hours, I kept chopping more and more hair from his unwilling body. The more I tried to smooth him out, the more it looked like I was styling him with an immersion blender. At one point it looked like he had exploded:

During this lengthy endeavor my mind drifted back to a simpler, earlier time. I remembered how excited hubby was when we first got married. He had some inane idea that putting a ring on my finger meant he never had to step inside a Super Cuts again. I'm pretty sure this expectation is why he actually proposed. He begged me for years, trying to get me to agree to cut his hair.

Hubby is a smart man, usually. But his fixation on saving the bi-monthly $9-plus-tip expenditure blinded him to the fact that when the target of your affection instructs you to "buy an instructional video" before attempting to cut your hair, things are not going to go well.

After a few years of pleading - and I do mean years - I begrudgingly gave in to his charms. He came home with the "Advanced Hair Styling System" from Sears and sat ram-rod straight on a kitchen chair, draped in a towel, while I finished watching the video. He was like a little kid anticipating recess. Of course, he scheduled this first coiffing the night before a job interview at Compaq Computer in Houston.

Following the video instructions to a T, I put on the appropriate clipper guard, trimmed carefully around his ears, made perfectly shaped side-burns. I snipped, smoothed and scissored his longer locks into an impressive blend. Six and a half hours later, I declared he was done. He stood up and walked to the powder room mirror. After a few seconds, he closed the door. Pacing outside I kept trying to coax him out.

Remember, I said he was a smart man, and I am pretty sure he was locked inside the half-bath trying to quell his tears. Once he emerged he gently said: "You've done an amazing job. Buuuut, is this side supposed to be this much longer than the other side?" OK, in fairness he did look like a member of the Flock of Seagulls. Exasperated, I huffed and pointed to the chair.

$9 plus tip was seeming less and less wallet gouging.

Grumbling (note to reader: this is never a good quality in someone cutting your hair) I evened out my work and proclaimed him finished. It wasn't horrible, it was just really, really, really short. Military short. I sent him off to the job interview, clutching the "Advanced Hair Styling System from Sears" in my hand and muttering under my breath about how I never agreed to this in my wedding vows.

As he drove the long hours to Houston, he stewed in the consequences of his wish-come-true. Dreading how he was going to be perceived, as walking in with a terrible haircut makes a pretty bad impression. True to my husband's unfolding life, he walked in to the room as his interviewer, a former military commander, stood and saluted him.

He was offered the job.

I never cut his hair again.

Dog was not so lucky.