Sometimes people scare me. Like, a LOT.
Sadly, it’s not when people are actually trying to scare me that it happens. You can make the spooky flashlight face and wiggly finger hands all you want, telling me there’s a monster in the closet or the sky is falling or the calls are coming from INSIDE YOUR PANTS!
Whatever. Maybe the monster will do the fricking laundry, the sky will smush the rising oceans, and I butt-dial people all the time. You’re no Lon Chaney, there, sparky.
Instead, it’s when people are just being themselves that they give me the shivering creepy willies. I’m sure that says something about me — or about them, or maybe the willies. I don’t know; I’m usually too freaked out to examine the social ramifications of being horrified on a regular basis by the things that come out of other humans’ mouths.
Here’s an example. I was sitting in my living room a while back, chatting with some family members.
“Honestly. Throw a blanket over that dog, and she could Dutch oven a rhinoceros.”
(And isn’t it always the family members who can induce the most horror? Especially the older ones.)
These were… older family members.
Our dog Susie — also old, a family member and highly willie-inducing — was lying on the floor, sleeping. Probably snoring. And almost certainly farting.
(Honestly. Throw a blanket over that dog, and she could Dutch oven a rhinoceros. I’m not kidding here.)
The pooch is thirteen years old. I’m no good at math, but that’s like, I don’t know, Abe Vigoda plus three in people years. My wife and I have had her since she was just a few months old, and I was telling the family folks how things have changed as parts of her have slowed down — and other parts have sped up.
Like her excretory system. She’s been a very well-housetrained dog for most of her existence. She’d have the occasional accident, sure — and she did have an unfortunate bout of incontinence, which thankfully responded to medication. Because she looked miserable in a diaper, and I’m pretty sure she would have eaten our faces off by now, if she’d had to wear one regularly. But overall, the pup can hold her pees and poops until it’s time to piddle and plop them out on the Patterson’s petunias.
At least, she could.
These days, not so much. She hasn’t lost control of herself, exactly, so far as we can tell. But the timeframe on her between-walk periods has shortened considerably. When there’s a bullet train ready to leave her station — or a flood about to burst the dam — you’d better be ready with a leash, a bag and a pair of running shoes. Because it’s coming OUT, brother. And it’s not gonna wait around twiddling its filthy thumbs while you find the right pair of socks.
That’s life with the dog these days. It’s a challenge, but you deal with it. For an animal who can’t help herself and doesn’t know any better, you make concessions. But you notice the change. As I said to the older family members:
“There’s something coming out of her every hour and a half.”
I was being cute. I thought it might get a chuckle, or an “awwww!” in the dog’s direction. At worst, I thought I might be the one a little too ‘scary’ in this conversation. I’ve been known to overshare on occasion. I know — it’s shocking. But it happens.
Instead, the older family members — in unison, mind you, just to make it extra creepy — turned to me and nodded with knowing looks. And just as I felt the chill run up the back of my neck, one of them said:
“Yep. We all get there, don’t we?”
Yep, we sure– wait. WE?! How in the name of a two-ton terrier turd did this become about WE? I’m talking about the dog here, and I don’t even want to think about whatever horrific revolving-bathroom-door experience he’s thinking of. No, thanks. Case closed. BAD DOG.
I tried to hide my wide-eyed horror at the creeping implications of that simple response — and at what, presumably, I have to look forward to in a few years. I thought of the exponential increase in maintenance the dog is requiring, and extrapolated to my own old age — at best, spending half my waking hours in the john. At worst… I don’t know. Being taken out on a leash and tied to a tree, so I don’t stink up the living room? Crate training? Punishment? I don’t want my nose rubbed in anything we’re talking about here. Lordy.
I was just cresting the initial wave of ick!, thinking maybe my elder was just having a bit of fun. Two can play the smartass game, so probably he was just being flippant and scary for fun. Just to see my reaction, right? To scare me subtly, since the overt approach doesn’t always work so well. Yeah. That was all.
That’s when I noticed he was still nodding, along with the other older family members. Only now they were nodding at each other. It wasn’t for my benefit at all — it’s an actual thing, and they all know about it. From their own experience, presumably — and possibly each others’. I nearly swooned.
Because it’s one thing to deal with the dog in this condition. She can’t help herself, and it’s my responsibility, and frankly, her poops are usually pretty small. Usually. Plus, she’s a dog — she’s going to befoul the various horizontal surfaces of our house for, what, another six months or a year? Maybe two?
But man, if I start hitting the head every ninety minutes at, say, age sixty or so, like the folks in my living room, I could be doing that shit — literally — for thirty years. If I’m lucky. And I don’t want to consider shuffling my butt to the shitter fourteen times a day as ‘lucky’. ‘Sucky’, maybe. ‘Chafy’, for sure. But not ‘lucky’.
So basically, I had the bejeesus scared out of me by a few of older-but-not-that-much-older relatives, who couldn’t have frightened me with this sort of thing if they were trying to. But when it just blurts out like that, as a part of life that just has to be dealt with, that’s some scary messed-up shit, man. And speaking of ‘blurting out’, the very next thing said, after the above exchange?:
“By the way, dear, can you point me to your bathroom?”
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