I DO NOT Hate Dogs (Or Babies), Actually

My mother is convinced that I hate dogs–or pretends she is convinced so she can annoy me–and mentions this non-fact every time I, ironically, say something pleasant about the little furry buggers.

“I thought you hated dogs,” she’ll say, blithely unconcerned that no such evidence for this belief exists.

“For the bajillionth time,” I will say, with great exasperation, “I like dogs just fine. I just don’t WANT one.”

Of course, I also, according to my mother, hate babies. Because, again, I do not WANT one, and am at a bit of a loss about what conversational topic might appeal to them. I have been unable to interest babies in politics, music or books thus far, and after these conversational gambits fail, we blink at each other a lot, and I’m reduced to saying something inane like “cootchy-coo.”

“I thought you hated babies,” my mom will say, should I ever make a positive comment about one, and for this statement she at least has a small amount of “evidence” at hand. I never played with baby dolls, cooed over babies, or came home from babysitting a-flush with girlish dreams of popping out my very own mini-Me.

“For the bajillionth time,” I will say, with great resignation, “I like babies just fine. I just don’t WANT one. And I prefer them when they haven’t offloaded used food into their britches, and when they are asleep. Other than that, babies are awesome.”

Clearly, what I dislike is responsibility and neediness. Not dogs and babies.

I am fairly good at speaking Cat and Ferret (not that ferrets are particularly vocal, mind you). Moreso Cat. Not just LolCat, which is an annoying recent habit I’ve picked up thanks to Grumpy Cat and LimeCat et al and Can Haz Cheezburger and Internet poisoning in general, but actual Cat.

When I was small, and not very old, we lived next door to the P—s. They were a childfree couple, as far as I know, who, instead of breeding and having lots of kids, collected a large quantity of Siamese cats. Though Siamese tend to resemble each other greatly, especially when swarming around you in a tide of yowl, I think I finally determined there were eight in all. Maybe ten. They were all big, lazy, brown-pointed meezers with the distinctive Siamese voice (nails on blackboard, but still endearing, if you like cats, which I most emphatically did and do).

In addition to the Mob O’ Meezers, there was a long-haired mutt cat who used to beat up on our cat, Socks, who was a marsh cat, and only Siamese from the knees up. Socks was the Most Awesome Cat Ever, and when the neighbors’ mutt cat bit a chunk out of the base of her tail, she endured the indignity with stoicism. Poor kitty. She was small, had a white chin, bib and toes, and a sweet kitten voice. She was also very aware that she’d been rescued and had it damn good in our household. A nicer cat you could not wish for.

Socks was named after the Beverly Cleary book.  We also had a beagle, who I wanted to call Ribsy, because I was seven years old when we got her and I thought that would be awesome. Had I won this battle, it would have been the most ironic name ever, because Brandy (the unoriginal name the dog was eventually saddled with) eventually resembled a  spotted barrel perched atop toothpicks. Also? There were bricks and potatoes smarter than this dog.

Those poor cats. I was relentless in my attempts to befriend them.  They’d be taking a nice kitty kip under the Pitts’ car, and I’d lie on the driveway and carefully drag one out to cuddle it. If it was sufficiently stuporous, it would allow this without complaint. Eventually the cats all gave up and resigned themselves to being loved within an inch of their lives, and even seemed to enjoy it. All but the bastard fluffy one of unknown heritage.

Those cats taught me how to speak Cat, though, and the skill has never deserted me. Not only do I understand Cat body language and behavior (especially “fuck off, I’m trying to take a nap, yo!”), but also the various Cat vocalizations. Alas, my accent is Siamese. So it goes.

Cat Glossary:

Mrp — Howdy!
Prow? — How goes it?
Mew — I are tiny kitten.
Meyow — Hey!
Myow — Oh, you again.
Murt — That feels nice
Prrrr — More of the same, please
Rrrr — Not there.
Hreee! — I see my mortal enemy
MrrrrrEEEEEOOOOOOW! — Me so horny
Meh — Hungry
MEH yeh — I’m not kidding, I haven’t eaten for yonks
RAHR? — I have no opposable thumbs, please open that can for me
Eh YAO, Eh YAO — Front desk calling, this is your wake up call
Fffft! — Come closer and you’ll draw back a nub
Hhhhhrawr — For serious. I will bite you.
Grummm grummm — Makin’ biscuits, v. v. busy.
Moo? — I are tiny cow.
Prrrp! — I am about to race up and down the stairs for no apparent reason.
Mummmm, mummmmm — I love you, man.
Miaou — Hey guys, what’s going on in this thread?
Meow — Pay attention to me
Roop?— Is that for me?
Mao — Workers unite!
Wow wow — I am on the wrong side of the door. Both sides of the door are always wrong.
Mmmrrgggl — I have a mouth full of dead lizard. Is a present. For you.
Mwah? MWAH?! Mwah! — Where is everyone?
Meringue — When come back, bring pie.
Vrrrrrrrr + *butt elevator* — A little lower, a little to the left, oh YEAH, that’s the spot
*headbutt* — I dub thee my number one human, and you better damn well be honored.

And so on. I can speak Cat well enough to actually fool cats and hold conversations with them. I am sure my grammar and pronunciation are both atrocious, however.

I don’t speak Dog well. At all. I understand Dog body language, and would never need Cesar Milan to come straighten out any dog I owned, because any dogs I’ve had contact with know damn well who is the leader of the pack and where the dog potty is located and that jumping up on people, especially people in expensive silk stockings on their way out the door to work or a date, is a big no-no. But I don’t *speak* Dog.

Furthermore, there are types of dogs I like more than other types.

LIKE: 
1. Wolfy dogs with pointy ears.
2. Snouter pups without mushed-in faces
3. Curly tail dogs
4. Brown dogs
5. Smooth coat dogs
6. Smart dogs who smile
7. Pugs. I don’t know why.
8. Dogs that do not stick their noses in your personal spaces.
9. Spayed and neutered dogs that don’t hump crap and bleed on stuff
10. Labs and goldens. These are just awesome dogs, even if their ears are all floppy and hangy-downy.

DISLIKE:
1. Drooly mush-face dogs, because DOG SPIT is the nastiest fluid known to humankind. Fear Factor should have used dog drool as an ingredient on their show.
2. Dogs the size of Volkswagons who lunge
3. Dogs with coats that need more attention than my own hair gets
4. Bitey dogs, because, OW. And rabies.
5. Yappy dogs, who won’t ever shut the fuck up
6. Moppy dogs, who only need a handle to actually be useful
7. Wee-wee piddle-poo dogs who won’t go outside to go, the nasty little bastards
8. Dogs that don’t have black or brown eyes. It makes no sense, I know.
9. Dogs that eat every damn thing, be it people food, carpets, cat poops, house siding, table legs, pants, underwear, used feminine hygeine products, garbage, tin foil, crayons, markers, Barbies, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, doors, bowls, rocks, shoes, linoleum…like Brandy, who ate all of these things except the siding. My friend Lake’s hound was the one that ate siding.
10. Dogs that shiver nervously and look sad all the time

Mostly, the dogs I like are Other People’s Dogs. I can visit the dogs, proclaim them to be truly Awesome, but not have to train, walk or pay the vet bills for them. This suits me just fine.

But no, I don’t hate dogs. Dogs rock. I just don’t WANT one. Can I borrow yours for an hour or two? That would suit me fine.

But I am not throwing that disgusting spittle-soaked tennis ball back to them. Sorry. Ew.

I feel pressured when something loves me unconditionally, won’t leave me alone, and can’t entertain itself without my participation. This applies to relationships, too, though I have been known to pick significant others who can’t love anyone but themselves at all, don’t call ever, and can entertain themselves just fine for months on end, at which point they suddenly recall I might still exist and be good for a laugh and a pleasant night out. I know there is a middle ground.

Babies make me a wee bit nervous. I’m good with them and they like me, and I’m not going to drop them on their heads or anything, but babies are prone to erupt with sticky fluids out of every orifice, and they tend to do so unexpectedly, and I’m one of those people who magically never spill things on themselves because I am so averse to personal filth. If you hand me a baby, I am pretty sure I am going to get biological fluids on me at some point, and this makes me very antsy and unhappy.

Babies also have no appreciation of a good guitar riff.

Babies like repetition and familiarity, and I would go out of my mind reading the same Dr Seuss book over and over four bajillion times. If I liked that sort of thing, and wasn’t fairly certain it would outlive me by several decades, I’d get a parrot. And you know what?  I happen to LIKE Dr. Seuss! I just bought the niece a huge Seuss book with about a hundred Seuss stories all mushed up into one volume. It is a nice thing. I just don’t want to memorize it. I suspect for every Seuss book I learned by rote that I would forget something more important, like my telephone number or some Romantic poet poems or how to make scrambled eggs.

Babies do not speak English. They speak Baby, and it all sounds pretty much the same.

Baby Glossary:

WAH! — I’m hungry
WAH! — I’m no longer hungry
WAH! — I’m thirsty
WAH! — I need to belch
WAH! — I need a change
WAH! — I’m tired
WAH! — I’m not tired anymore
WAH! — Fuck you, bub
WAH! — Hey guys, what’s going on in this thread?
WAH! — Where is everyone? Hello?
WAH! — Some idiot stuck me with a diaper pin, even though no one actually uses pinned nappies any more
WAH! — You won’t let me eat dead moths
WAH! — You let me eat a dead moth and it tasted gross
WAH! — Leave me alone
WAH! — Pay attention to me
WAH! — Phone’s ringing, go get it
WAH! — What kind of idiot sleeps at 2 AM? Entertain me!
WAH! — Hey, it’s 4 AM. Cool!
WAH! — And now it’s 6 AM. Awesome!
WAH! 
— You’re mom, I want dad
WAH! — You’re dad, I want mom
WAH! — Who the hell are you? Do I know you? Do I like you?
WAH! — I forgot what I was crying about, but what the hell
WAH! — I would like to discuss Amway with you
WAH! — I disapprove of this culinary nightmare you are forcing on me
WAH! — This is a hella fugly outfit, and I will not put up with it
WAH! — I’m cold
WAH! — I’m hot
WAH! — Previously, everything was satisfactory.
WAH! — Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
WAH! — Who farted?
WAH! — I have been quiet for a whole half hour, and felt the need to remind you that I still exist
WAH! — Is this mic on?
WAH! — I am not fond of strained beets
WAH! — My bum is chapped
WAH! — The babysitter is the Devil
WAH! — That bald man is the Devil
WAH! — Santa Claus is the Devil
WAH! — I’m overwhelmed
WAH! — I am training to be an opera singer when I grow up
WAH! — This room has great acoustics
WAH! — I am cutting a tooth

And so on.

I don’t speak Baby, so I end up running back and forth trying fourteen different things to make the baby stop saying WAH! at me, and, if I am lucky, one works. Babies also have no sense of self-preservation, so keeping them from licking the outlets and drinking Drano can be a full-time job. It makes me nervous, and I probably look like one of those Hindu gods that have arms popping out all over while I’m trying to Make The WAH! Stop.

But I already said that.

Even so, Babies love the heck out of me. They are like cats in this way. Cats always gravitate to the person in the room who has the least amount of interest in befriending or touching them, and do everything but drop a Roofie in your drink to make you warm up to their magnificence. Likewise, Babies and me. The fact that I am not instantly charmed makes them determined to be as Cute and Adorable as possible. They pull out all the big guns in their personal armory to win me over. They smile, try to rub their gooey, boogery hands on me, wave, play peek-a-boo, flirt, giggle, bat their baby eyelashes, coo, and do various other extremely cute Baby things that would make every other woman’s uterus contract with acute Baby Lust pangs. Not me. My uterus is not impressed.

They sure are cute, though.

In truth, it is the rude sprog wranglers that I truly dislike. The Baby can’t help it if it can only say WAH!, but the parent(s), caregiver(s) and / or grandparent(s) can make sure it says WAH! somewhere other than a restaurant, theater, shopping mall, art gallery, museum, movie or (yes, I’ve witnessed this) a bar. Since I empathize and know that it often takes a while to figure out what the Baby wants, and whether the Baby can even HAVE what it wants, all I ask is that unhappy Babies be taken outside until you parse what the Baby wants and make it happy again.

Please don’t make me dislike your child because you can’t be arsed to remove it when it starts screeching WAH!

Also, don’t be a filth pig and change your child’s diaper on a dining table in a restaurant, or in a dressing room, and leave the manky nappy just lying there. That is grody. I don’t want to see or smell poo when I go out to eat. Is that too much to ask?

I’m even not getting into “Lactivism”. Really. No. Do I enjoy having to carry on a conversation with a stranger who has a baby attached to her boob? Not really. Do I enjoy sitting in a restaurant when there’s breastfeeding going on two feet away from me? Meh, not really bothered, but maybe it could be kept more discreet in fancier places. Do I want to get forty-two comments on how natural it is and how it should be done however, wherever and whenever the boob owner wants? I most emphatically do not. So, nurse on, Lactivists.

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Help People Gift You With Nice Things By Not Being Obnoxious

Yesterday evening I spent a few glorious hours doing almost nothing. Lazy? Yes. Gleefully so.

Well, I’ve done the usual house proud things like thinking really hard about finding the broom and dustpan, washing the dishes, feeding myself, doing a hell of a lot of loads of laundry (effort that will be for naught if I don’t actually put the clean stuff away…like, today), supervising a three day long house power wash that seems to have literally knocked the old shack askew (all doors are now sticking and are a potential “will die in a fire” hazard because they are hard as hell to open and close), and trying to gently urge new-by-marriage family members I only talk to once a year (but like a lot) to please, for the love of Santa, make out a frickin’ Amazon wishlist so I don’t give up in disgust and go buy them all oven mitts and candle baskets and singing penguins to make a point.

They refuse to do this for Christmas, they refuse to do it for anniversaries, they refuse to do it for birthdays. Why is this? I know I’m poor, but I’m trying, here. (If someone is offering to get you EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT for a gift, then throw them a frickin’ bone and put at least two or three items on a frickin’ list, OKAY? Is that so wrong? It’s not gauche or vulgar if someone begs you to do it so their gift shopping is not a pain in the ass! Honest! Do you WANT a Chia Pet? Don’t make me get you a fruitcake for Christmas, because I’ll do it, people. Sigh.)

Here’s another annoying thing you shouldn’t do: My mom has this “don’t spend your money” whenever it is coming up on a gift-giving event, and says shit that translates into an “I would much prefer you to spend three weeks sweating over an original painting that will cost you $200 in supplies, not that you have that kind of cash, and will require elbow room and space in which to actually paint, space which you do not have” routine that ruins the little joy I get out of, for example, the ONLY THING I LIKE ABOUT CHRISTMAS, which is giving other people stuff they want. I like birthday giving and Valentine’s Day giving and holiday giving in general, but I don’t like not having anything to give, no money to get anything to give, and suggestions made in a combination of innocence and ignorance that basically ask me to spend hundreds of dollars and days of time on an Easter basket gift or something equally minor. I get that it is supposed to be a compliment, but when you’re told that art supplies aren’t cheap, when you have helped me buy not-cheap art supplies, and when you know it takes hours to do something half-way decent, your suggestion that I “just make something, you know, with your art skills” is thoroughly annoying.

So cut that shit out.

But I digress. What else did I not-do while enjoying a rare respite from constant stress and an over-booked schedule? Well, I’ve read a lot. And taken a nap. A nap! What luxury!

Okay, I’m not done with the gift giving thing. Bear with me.

Helpful hint: if you tell someone not to spend money on you after they already have, or you reject all offered gift item suggestions (there’s a reason you were being offered a limited list, probably due to finances or the estimated ease of getting you what you want in time for the event), or profess to hate and refuse to use “we sell everything” online wishlists (like Amazon) to suggest instead a gift that was NOT offered and which would be a huge pain in the ass, expensive, and time-consuming for the giver, you are not being courteous and polite, you are being a jerk. Stop that. Did I offer you a damn pony? No. No, I did not.

Just for that, you are getting a fruitcake, and I don’t care if it is February. (It was stale in December, it ain’t getting any less stale.)

Likewise, if someone has made a point of saying that they never, ever shop at Wal*Mart or K-Mart, do not think you’re being cute if you gift them with a $15 Wal*Mart gift card that forces them to look at all the overpriced, limited, lame items on the Wal*Mart website, because the recipient is still not going to drive across town and suffer Wal*Hell. I got one a few years ago, held onto it for months, not knowing WTF to do with it, and almost just threw it out. HOWEVER, did I complain to the giver and remind them that I’d told them (OFTEN!) that Wal*Mart is on my “never give this company a dime” list, or that their gift was thus unappreciated? I DID NOT. I was very grateful, and very appreciative. The thought, however passive-aggressive, was probably well-intentioned. I suspect that my birthday snuck up on the givers and they bundled the gift in with the weekly groceries, because they DO shop at Wal*Mart, frequently, and their Wal*Mart has a grocery section. See, as I didn’t expect anything at all, I was glad to get what I got. I just didn’t know how to use it, and that took some thinking.

This, however, is why I don’t want to just randomly run out and buy giftcards. I personally may love Target. Do you? Not everyone does. Some gift cards I get if I can afford to celebrate Christmas in Atlanta every year require that I shop IN Atlanta before driving home, because the stores DO NOT EXIST down here and the cards expire in a few months, and there’s either no website or the cards have to be used in person in a store.

Which brings me back to my earlier gripe: FILL OUT AN AMAZON WISHLIST, PLEASE. Some of us do not like going in person to a store, be it to buy something for themselves or to buy gifts for others. Don’t make us do it. I was 100% more happy when I figured out that I could do most of my Christmas shopping online and even get stuff wrapped and shipped for me. Now I can’t afford to even buy a candy cane in the penny bin for someone, but back when I could, online shopping was SO much better than dealing with parking, crowds, limited store hours, thieves trying to steal your shit, crying kids, horrible Christmas music and traffic. I will never set foot in a mall again if I can help it.

I LOVE AMAZON DOT COM SO MUCH.

Anyway, while surfing around, struggling to figure out what these almost-strangers actually like, because they have failed to respond to my emails and calls thus far and time is running short if I want to get all this stuff shipped to me in time to wrap it and travel up there with it, I found a lot of nifty (and cranky) blogs and journals talking about holiday hell.

Not everyone enjoys the frickin’ holidays. I am often depressed and unhappy until March. I don’t enjoy all the pro-debt advertising and expectations and etiquette concerns and headaches. I struggle to be civil and positive while suffering an onslaught of holiday crap music and religious advertising from local Jesusland businesses and TV stations (!!!, no attempt whatsoever to be respectful to the large Jewish population here, for one, or to people who simply don’t want to see adverts where Le Grand Fromage of the TV station PRAYS and reads Bible verses in front of a Nativity scene during nearly every commercial break, forcing you to remember why you have cable and never watch local channels in the first place), and poorly-planned roadways that make it a pain in the butt to shift lanes, and family sulks (like how my mother is angry that I do not want to fly or drive up to Atlanta with her, even though I need my car to get from the opposite side of town to my brother and SIL’s house and back while there and am not likely to be arriving or leaving at the same time, and do not wish to be bothered with anal probes at the airport, and like how family members are often being nasty to and about my pet, and other crap).

It makes me all so tired that I get, like, TOTALLY parenthetical!!

Need MOAR semicolons. And brevity. Yup.

That said, it is nice to have the option to see family during the holidays. Since I couldn’t this year, as even buying a single tank of gas was out of my price range, my Christmas may have been a lot less stressful, but it was also really, really quiet. I didn’t hear from my family until almost 9PM Christmas night.
So, there’s that.

You Dirty Rat

Guess what?!

I was brushing my teeth in the downstairs bathroom when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Fortunately I am not overly superstitious, as I’d been watching a cable show about alleged hauntings (I find these shows hilarious). This particular “haunting” was short, dark,and furry. It came bounding happily down the stairs, probably from the kitchen. Apparently Murphy the Ferret has begun to invite friends over to the crib to party down without asking permission first.

Now, I’d like to say it was a squirrel. But, in my heart of hearts, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t. Two years ago, my grandmother had a run-in with a wild rat in her kitchen and brained it with a hot frying pan full of sunny-side-up eggs. It raced off, and the score was tallied at Rat: 1, Grandmother: 0. Then, being a genteel Southern lady, she sat down and had a mild attack of the vapours.

The next day, she was ready to curl up with a nice scotch and Virginia Slim and ogle that handsome Jack McCoy on “Law & Order” and a very deceased rat fell out of her afghan onto her lap. Score revised: Rat: 0, Grandmother: 1. My grandmother gets extra cojones points since she was 90 at the time.

Last year, my neighbors began complaining that a family of rats had taken up residence in their bathroom’s air conditioner unit. This was unacceptable, but they are dog nuts, with three voracious hounds that will eat whatever isn’t nailed to the floor, so rat poison was out. They have had to just live with the occasional rat sighting.

A month ago, I heard scritching noises in the ceiling. I had hoped it was squirrels. In Atlanta, you can rest assured it is probably just squirrels. It’s always squirrels. Not so Savannah. No, in Savannah, the squirrels live off the fat of the land and little old ladies’ bird feeders. Living indoors is too cushy for their tastes. The squirrels don’t do pampering. But rats? No problemo. They dig invading houses.

So it’s my turn to deal with rats. Hoo fucking rah. I’m so excited.

The problem is that they clear-cut the woods surrounding our neighborhood for a totally useless parkway. No woods, no habitat. This is why we get snakes, opossums, bugs, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, etcetera, invading the ‘hood. Their homes were stolen, so they’re out for payback.

Now, I’m not anal-retentively clean, but neither am I a fucking slob. I take my trash out and put dirty dishes in the dishwasher and so forth. My ferret, however, is less tidy. He manages to push half his food out of his cage on a daily basis. I sweep it up, he makes another mess. It’s a buffet. I’ve tried to feed him less, and he sulks and acts like he’s dying of starvation. I’ve tried feeding him in smaller increments more often, and he stops pushing his food out, but he gains massive amounts of weight and lolls around like a beachball. I haven’t figured out a way to balance the two scenarios. Either I have a happy, healthy ferret and a big daily mess, or I have a surly, fat ferret and a smaller daily mess.

So I’m standing there with a toothbrush handle hanging off my lip like a street hood sporting a cigarillo, and this rat streaks across the floor like a frat boy doing a rush prank across the quad clad in only a lampshade. I see a blur of fur and a very non-squirrel-like tail vanish into the utility closet, which is dark and scary and full of tools and boxes and a furnace and a maze of vents and pipes and vacuum cleaners and electrical wires and electronics that are incompatible with 1940s-era electrical outlets and fuses. No hot frying pan. No shoes, even. I’m in a slip and some lovely white crew socks. Very sexxay. Me versus a possibly rabid wild street rat. Rat: 1, Me: 0.

So now I have to call the exterminator, and I hate the idea. I like pet rats just fine. If Ratty was not in my house, I’d have no quarrel with it. I also fear having a dead, stinky, smelly rat carcass in my ceiling. Or an angry, half-dead rat stalking me. Or rat relatives seeking sweet, sweet vengeance: “My name is Inigo Rattoya, and you killed mah fadda. Prepare to die.” Some yellow-jumpsuited rat will hop out of the ceiling waving a plastic cocktail sword and everything will go all black and white and we’ll both shout stuff in bad Japanese and the rat will make a pop culture reference or two and then lots of grey ketchup will spray all over the place. I’ll wake up one morning and find a toy Breyer horse head in my bed looking at me.

The Bone solution–you know, the comic book guy?–would involve leaving out several tempting quiches laced with Drano. The stupid, stupid rat creatures would then eat the quiches and die. Horribly. Sure, they’d have all that quiche-y goodness, but Drano is a motherfucker. I can’t bring myself to clean out these rats’ pipes like that. I just want them out of the house.

Damn it. Every week, it’s some new infestation in this house! I still have a ribbon snake living somewhere behind the water heater. Too bad they don’t eat rats.

Snake! On a bathroom floor! (Warning: this entry is rated NC-17 for Samuel L. Jackson content)

Never mind the exclamation points, I’m not all that scared of snakes.

This guy is huge, though. About four feet long and as big as a dollar coin all the way around. And he’s in the basement bathroom. Good grief.

Where’s Samuel L. Jackson when you need him?

“Dude, did you see Pulp Fiction?”

“Yeah, that guy Samuel L. Jackson is such a bad m-“

“Shut yo’ mouth!”

“I’m just talkin’ ’bout Sam!”

“We can dig it.”

“I think I found your problem, lady.”

*begin dream sequence*

Samuel L. Jackson: Describe what he looks like!

Me: He’s, um, black…bald…long…stripey…

Samuel L. Jackson: Does he look like a bitch?

Me: What?!

Samuel L. Jackson: DOES…HE…LOOK..LIKE…A BITCH?!

Me: NO!

Samuel L. Jackson: Well, okay, then. … WHAT?

Me: I’d just like to, you know, go to the bathroom without starring in the home version of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I don’t own any hipwaders, yo.

Samuel L. Jackson: “The path of the righteous woman is beset on all sides by the inequities of the socio-economic level you occupy and the tyrannies of evil snakes. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of motherfucking snakes for he is truly his sister’s keeper, and the finder of lost reptiles. And I shall strike down upon the serpent with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and freak out my sisters when all they want to do is pee in peace. And you will know my name is Samuel L. Jackson when I lay my vengeance upon the snake!”

Me: YEAH! It’s a snake. In my bathroom! What’s up with that shit?!

Samuel L. Jackson: Motherfucking snakes in a motherfucking bathroom! Stand aside, fool, I’ve got it.

Snake: Oh, hello. Hey! What? Who? Blimey, it’ssss that guy! From that film! Who did that thing! Woah. How’ssssss it goin’, dude?

Samuel L. Jackson: Say ‘hisssss’ one more time, motherfucker!

Snake: Uh…ssssssay what?

Samuel L. Jackson: *divine retribution, possibly with sharp, pointy farm-implement, such as hoe or shovel*

Me: I TOLD you to get out of my damn bathroom. Stupid. I had to break out the Bad MotherFucker brand Snake-Be-Gone canned Whoop-Ass.

Samuel L. Jackson: Your sins, motherfucker! Do you repent?!

Snake: Hey! That ssssssmarts! Ouch! That hurtsssss! Yow! That’s not fair, givin’ a guy a ssssshot down there!

Samuel L. Jackson: VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE LORD!!! *SMITE smite SMITE smite SMITE*

Snake: Lo, I be sssslain and ssssmote. *expiressss*

Samuel L. Jackson: Time for a Royale with Cheese. That’s a mighty fine burger.

Me: How about some freshly dead snake? Tastes like chicken!

*end dream sequence*

I’ve been catch-and-releasing little green frogs of various sizes for two months, I guess Snakey knows a good hunting ground when he sees one.

Wee Phwahwg, stay out of my house.

Last year I had a Snake Intruder who zipped under my bed downstairs. This left me slightly less complacent for two reasons. I did not want to wake up nose-to-flicking-tongue with a snake coiled up on the neighboring pillows. I also did not want to pick up a dead snake a few weeks later.

I went on a Great Snake Hunt lat year and never found him. This leads me to one of two conclusions: Snake One survived and has become Snake Two, OR Snake Two is a different, larger snake. The former conclusion means that Snake One survived on his steady diet of wee frogs and got much, much larger. The latter conclusion means that I probably have an unknown number of snakes living with me but not paying rent.

There are other conclusions possible, including one where, when I move, I find an entire NEST of the damned things down here. I prefer not to think about it.

I told Snake One that I’d live and let live if s/he’d stay hidden or find the way back outside. I hope that this discussion worked. All I know is that I never did end up sharing a bed with Snake One, or find Snake One in the shower stall, and what I don’t see doesn’t stress me out. Now I’ve told Snake Two that if s/he will oblige me by crawling into a handy container, I will put said container outside, which is where Snake Two should be. Time alone will tell if this happens.

I’d be a lot more nervous if I thought the Snakes were poisonous. Georgia is home to six species of poisonous snakes, and these guys do not look like rattlesnakes (canebreak / timber, pygmy, or eastern diamondback), southern copperheads, water mocassins / cottonmouths or coral snakes. I suspect it’s a common garter snake (though it could be a ribbon snake, they prefer wetter environments).

What I learned today:

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis): This species is found in a diversity of grassy habitats that are usually wet or damp, although not necessarily near permanent aquatic areas. It is usually less than 2 feet long, large specimens occasionally reach lengths greater than 3 feet. It is distinguished from all other Georgia species, except ribbon snakes, by the presence of three yellow longitudinal stripes down a dark body. Garter snakes have black lines on their lip scales, whereas ribbon snakes do not. Some garter snakes in Georgia have a checkered body pattern with poorly defined stripes. This species gives birth to live young, sometimes having more than 50 babies. Common garter snakes feed on earthworms, frogs, toads, salamanders, fish and tadpoles.

The only part that gives me pause is the several dozen live babies bit. I may be sharing a home with dozens of snakelets. The fun never ends.

Here’s a picture of my little buddy:

Sssssss! I have come to bring much unneeded excssssssitement to your day! Sssssscrew your grad ssssschool projectssssss! You musssssssssst now focusssss on ME! Then you mussssst wassssste time telling some friendsssss and total sssssssstrangerssss about me on Teh Intarwebzssss. Ssssssss!

Not so scary, is he?

If he had rattles or fangs, though, I’d be screaming just like my ass was on fire. Or if he was much bigger. Three or four feet or so is about my limit for free-range snakes….longer than my legs, and I get a little freaked out.

My cousin was an amateur herpetologist and he tried to freak me out repeatedly with his snake collection when I’d visit. Instead, I’d happily hold them all and ask questions, which disappointed him. I even cheerfully scooped clammy newts out of their tanks and handled them. The only beastie I couldn’t really deal with was the furry spider the size of a tea saucer. I held it once, but gladly never repeated the experience. I’m not into arachnids. Frankly, I prefer my pets to be furry, but I also prefer for them to be mammals. (Great. Now I have They Might Be Giants singing “Mammal” in my mind.)

Speaking of: ferret v. garter snake. Who do you think would win?

This is another reason I’m not too fussed. If Snake Two gets out of line, I’m sending in fanged mustalid reinforcements to weasel war-dance and dook him to bits. Right now Snake Two is hiding behind the water heater in the bathroom (or so I think!), and that’s fine by me.

PROTIP: Stop harassing Samuel L. Jackson about snakes whenever he gets on a plane.

Diary of an Internet-Savvy Cat using OKCupid.com

 Day 1: I am intrigued by the opportunity to see who would be my ultimate love match. I shall condescend to take their stupid test. “Genghis Khunt”? *pees on keyboard and stalks off, tail in the air*

Internet-savvy cats

Day 2: My pets have left me alone in the house again, so I think I shall fill out this profile thing. Let’s see. About me. I love talking about myself. I am magnificent and very impressive. I shall get mates in litterbox-loads. Okay. My self-summary is as follows: “I am short, dark and very handsome, with silky fur. I enjoy cuddling, expressing my displeasure through the liberal application of urine on the Oriental carpet, torturing small mammals to death and leaving their heads in my pets’ slippers, and attempting to dig a tunnel to China in the potted ficus in the foyer. Miaou, miaou. I am also fond of long moonlit walks, singing, and meaningless catsex in dark alleys. Pfft. Let’s meet. Rowr. I need someone else to do my bidding and satisfy my every whim. Opposable thumbs a major plus! No fatties, baldies or dogs need apply.”

Day 3: I am chagrined to discover that no one has found my profile compelling. Perhaps I should post five pictures of my anus. I have a very attractive anus. My pets love it when I stick it in their faces for them to admire.

Day 4: OKCupid has sent me a note telling me my profile has been flagged for obscenity. No one appreciates the delicate contours of my rectum?! What?! I am aghast. Philistines! *pees on keyboard, bats mouse under desk, stalks off with tail in the air*

Day 5: Alas, I am still feeling a need for companionship. I will persevere! Maybe I should fill out more of my profile. Let’s see. The first thing(s) people usually notice about me: “I have mesmerizing yellow eyes and a very long tail. I’m told that chicks dig my whiskers. Very indie cred cool. I am very graceful, always manage to land on my feet. Hell, I am perfect in every way. I am always open to collecting new minions. Meyow. I am a night person. I stalk ghosts. Purrrr. I have a bad catnip habit, but am in recovery. And I have an exceptional butt, though OKCupid disagrees with me. Morons.” That should do it! I expect the woos to start any second now.

Day 6: Fell on head while jumping off of bookcase to chaise lounge. Picked self up and acted like I meant to do that, groomed self nonchalantly until pets stopped mocking me. So much for that “always lands on all fours” business. Harrumph. Tonight I will hork a big greasy fishy-smelling hairball directly in the centre of their enormous sleeping cushion. But, anyway, I totally forgot to check OKCupid until just now. Surely I have exceeded my mailbox limit from all the many woos and amorous letters sent to me. *checks* What the fuck?! This is unacceptable. No one appreciates the glory that is me! IDIOTS! *stalks off to sulk under the divan*

Day 7: My pets sense my despondent mood and have attempted to jolly me our of it by dangling rubber things and feathers tied to strings in front of my face. To get them off my ass for a while, I shall pretend to be greatly amused and bat at the damned things. Fools. If only I had opposable thumbs!! Tonight they dined upon surf and turf, which is apparently delicious. They then had the nerve to act puzzled when I turned up my nose at the foul-smelling glop they plopped into my dinner bowl. I don’t see THEM eating any of it. I am FAR too aggravated with life to log on tonight.

Day 8: My pets have been mentioning the “V word” around me. God damn it. Can’t a guy have a bad mood once in a while? Fine. I’ll eat some of the godawful fish-flavored dry cereal they have served me and let them touch my stomach for an hour or two. Perhaps I shall even purr. Anything to get them off my back. I mean, last time we visited the “V word”, a total stranger paused to admire my gorgeous posterior and then–indignity! insult! horror!–stuck a rubber-covered FINGER up it! And then stuck me with a silver pin thing. Which hurt just like a motherfuck, I am not even kidding. For my own good, my Aunt Fanny! So I pulled out all twenty of my switchblades and scratched the shit out of them, I tell you what. There’s no way I can log on while they are watching me like vultures eyeing roadkill. Crap.

Solitaire proves to be more intellectually stimulating than social networks for Mister Tibbs.

Day 9: I have apparently reassured my pets that all is well. Success! They have once again left me to my own devices in order to watch something called “American Idol” on the warm lighted box I like to nap upon. Now’s my chance to check OKCupid! Ooh, yay, I have an email! *reads* What the…? This mostly hairless human is wearing what looks like a dead cow and he wants to tie me up and stick strange pointy plastic things up my ass! No! NO! The ass is for worshipping, not having things stuck up it! Would that I could scratch some manners into them. Time to expand upon my profile. The SIX things I could never do without: “Hmm. Okay. [1] My scratching post. [2] Pets with opposable thumbs to open doors for me eight times an hour. [3] My squeaky mousie. Meyow! [4] A sunny spot to nap in. [5] Loyal subjects to do my bidding and accede to my every whim. [6] Catnip, though I’m not addicted. Really. I’m in a Catnip Anonymous group, I swear. It’s really helped me a lot. I’ve cut waaaaaay back.”

Day 10: I decide to take another quiz. Apparently I am going to die by age 12!! Why me, lord! Whyyyyy?! I’m in the prime of my life! I’m too young to be half dead already!! I hate this stupid site.

Day 11: I heard Mittens and Mr Boots copulating energetically outside my domicile last night. Mittens must be retarded or something. Mr Boots is orange, has six toes on each front paw, a chewed-up ear and he’s even missing an eye! And his rectum isn’t NEARLY as impressive as MINE. How is it that HE can get some nooky and I can’t even get a damn woo? Fucking hell. Not one damn e-mail on OK Cupid! This sucks. I attempted to get some mild satisfaction by mangling some pieces of furniture, but it didn’t help. Tomorrow I may eat a houseplant. But not the pointy one in the den. It tastes like farts smell and makes me gag. Maybe the fern in the kitchen. Yesss….excellent. Mua ha ha. That fern’s days are numbered.

Day 12: I must be a masochist. (Though I dare not mention this on OKCupid lest I get more mail from humans trying to cuff me to things and flog me with sticks. Humans are weird.) Okay, I’m back. I should fill out more of my profile. On a typical Friday night I am: “Attempting to kill my pets by weaving around their feet while they are walking around. Have almost succeeded; must try this at the top of the stairs. Since I sleep all day while my pets are out doing something called “a job”, I get to stay up all night keeping my pets awake for hours with ear-splitting, incessant pleas for attention, food or a door to be opened for me. Occasionally I devour a particularly succulent houseplant and force myself to vomit on one of their favorite chairs. I enjoy hunting, climbing, back massages, and drinking water out of the kitchen sink.” There. *attempts to save* What the hell?! Why have a “keep me logged in until I sign out” option if it never fucking works?! This is the sixth time this hour I’ve had to log back in. Stupid OKCupid. GAH!

Day 13: Success! I have received another e-mail! Waitamminit. 8000 miles away? What language is this? What does “u r 2 hawtt, wan 2 fk?” mean? Is that even English? Where does this person live, Mars? Unacceptable. I shall type a reply.“Rowr! Pfffft!!! HISSSSS!!!!! Growl!” There. Hopefully that has expressed the exact degree of my displeasure accurately. *pees on keyboard, bats mouse under desk, sheds a pound of fur into the back of the printer, stalks off with tail held high in the air*

Day 14: I’m giving this thing one last try. Back to my profile. The most private thing I’m willing to admit here is: “I actually enjoy licking my own bum. I am anal-retentive about maintaining excellent hygeine.” (Ooh, I made a pun! I am so witty! I love me! I rock!) What else? “I never take a bath, however. I eat fish heads. Yowl, murrowl. I enjoy racing around like a meth addict, usually with pupils the size of nickels. I killed four dust mice today, in lieu of real ones. They did not taste half as good as a real decapitated rodent. I also enjoy eating spiders. They are delicious.”

Day 15: I received a woo from a confused skunk named Pepe Le-something tonight. I am going to have to set this guy straight. Sigh.

Day 16: My pets accidentally left the back door ajar tonight, and I had wild catsex in the backyard with Mittens. Had a screaming match about it with Mr Boots. He shouted something like “That’s my ho, but I DGAF! Me n my bro buds r gona kick ur asss!!” What a loser. If he was a human, he’d wear a backwards baseball cap and drive a giant vehicle with an impractical gasoline consumption rate. I just know it. Loser!

Day 17: I signed on to MySpace today. Lots of hot pussies on there. I think my romantic woes are nearing an end. Hallelujah! *deletes OK Cupid profile*

Grammar Cats Offer Assistance to the Grammatically Oppressed and Confused

Irritable Grammar Cat challenges the premise that all cats are incapable of using proper grammar. (Even LOLchat a.k.a. Catois has its own grammatical rules based on CORRECT English grammar. You have to know the rules to break them properly for the LULZ.)

GRAMMA–Your mother or father’s maternal parent
GRAMMAR–Proper use of your native language
GRAMMER–Kelsey Grammer was an actor on “Cheers” and “Frasier”.

YOUR–Possessive. Something you own. “Is that your book?”
YOURS–Note that this does not have an apostrophe. “No, that book is yours.”
YOU’RE–Contraction. Shortened form of YOU ARE. “You’re not into grammar?”
YORE–Time long past. “Back in the days of yore, King Arthur spoke with pond-dwelling watery tarts.”

LOSER–Not a winner.
LOOSER–Less tight than before.
LUSER–Internet slang for someone who cannot properly use a computer.
LOSE–“Lose” is pronounced “looze.” It means “to misplace,” as in “I always lose my car keys,” or “to be defeated,” as in “We will lose the game without Bob.”
LOOSE–“Loose” means “not tight” (“This shirt is too loose on me”), or “not confined” (“The ferret got loose when the door on his kennel broke”).

BARE: Naked. “Please bare with me, we need more naked people for our streaking prank.”
BEAR: Either a large, carnivorous furry mammal known to defecate in woods (if a noun) or a verb with a similar meaning as “endure.” “I don’t know how much longer I can bear this bear gnawing my face off.”

Apostrophe Cat is never used to make plural Apostrophe Cats. Apostrophe Cat also deplores the use of “greengrocer’s quotes” for emphasis.

ITS–Possessive. “The tree shed its leaves.”
IT’S–Contraction. Shortened form of IT IS. “It’s a shame about Ray.”

See, the word “it” is not a noun. It’s a pronoun! Pronouns never, ever, ever get an apostrophe to indicate possession. Think about it: You don’t say “mi’ne” or “hi’s”, so you DO NOT say “your’s” or “it’s” or “her’s” to indicate possession. If you get confused, take out the apostrophe in “it’s” and put in the letter or letters the apostrophe is replacing, e.g., “it is.” If the sentence makes no sense, don’t use the apostrophe.

THERE–Location. “It’s not here, it’s there.”
THEY’RE–Contraction. Shortened form of THEY ARE. “They’re driving me crazy with the bad grammar.”
THEIR–Possessive. “Their inability to use simple words properly is annoying.”

DIABEETUS Grammar Cat points out that your snarky comment is not nearly as clever if it is ungrammatical.

When to use LESS: When you can’t precisely count the amount. “He has less courage than she does.”
When to use FEWER: When you can. It should be “10 items or FEWER” at your grocery store. “She has fewer demerits than I do.”

When to use “I” or “Me”:
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Bob and I enjoy reading books”, then you use “I”. If the sentence still makes sense after removing “Bob and”, then you did it right. “Me enjoy reading books” is only right if you are Cookie Monster.
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Susan gave books to Bob and me,” then you use “me.” If the sentence still makes sense after removing “Bob and”, then you did
it right. “Susan gave books to I” is incorrect.

When to use “We” or “Us”:
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit the noun following the “we”, e.g., “We teachers enjoy reading books” vs. “We enjoy reading books”, then you use “we”. The sentence still makes sense after removing “teachers”, so you did it right. “Us enjoy reading books” is incorrect.
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Susan gave books to the teachers and us,” then you use “us.” If the sentence still makes sense after removing “the teachers and”, then you did it right. “Susan gave books to we” is incorrect.

THEN: Then is used either as a time marker (“Back then we knew what was expected of us.”) or with a sequence of events (“If you misuse these words, then you look unintelligent.”)
THAN: Unlike then, than is not related to time. Than is used in comparative statements. “He is taller than I am.”

AFFECT: Affect with an a means “to influence,” as in, “The rain affected Amy’s hairdo.” Affect can also mean, roughly, “to act in a way that you don’t feel,” as in, “She affected an air of superiority.”
EFFECT: Effect with an e has a lot of subtle meanings as a noun, but to me the meaning “a result” seems to be at the core of all the definitions. For example, you can say, “The effect was eye-popping,” or “The sound effects were amazing,” or “The rain had no effect on Amy’s hairdo.”

Generally speaking, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. When you affect something, you produce an effect on it. Even in the passive voice, something would be affected, not effected. (The exceptions to the rule: As a verb, effect means to execute, produce, or accomplish something; as a noun, affect is used primarily by psychologists to refer to feelings and desires as factors in thought or conduct.)

ACCEPT: Accept is a verb meaning to receive.
EXCEPT: Except is usually a preposition meaning excluding. “I will accept all the packages except that one.” Except is also a verb meaning to exclude. “Please except that item from the list.”

ALLUSION: An Allusion is an indirect reference. “Did you catch my allusion to Shakespeare?”
ILLUSION: An illusion is a misconception or false impression. “Mirrors give the room an illusion of depth.”

On the Internet, no one knows you’re a cat…especially if you are a Grammar Cat.

WHOM: Use whom when you are referring to the object of a sentence. For example, it is “Whom did you step on?” if you are trying to figure out that I had squished Squiggly the caterpillar. Similarly, it would be “Whom do I love?” because you are asking about the object — the target of my love. I know, it’s shocking, but the Rolling Stones were being grammatically incorrect when they belted out the song “Who Do You Love?”
THE WHO: A great band.
WHO: Two correct sentences are “Who loves you?” and “Who stepped on the caterpillar?” In both these cases the one you are asking about is the subject — the one taking action, not the one being acted upon.

More on WHO vs. WHOM: My friend Regina has an even easier PROTIP. “If you can use him/her, use whom. If you can use he/she, use who. IOW, reconfigure the sentence into a statement. “Whom did you step on?” becomes “I stepped on him,” NOT “I stepped on he.” So, whom is correct in the sentence. (This is how I remember it! I know you said the same thing, but the grammar-challenged may not understand tricky phrases like “subject” and “object” in regard to sentence structure.)”

FARTHER: Use “farther” for physical distance. It’s easy to remember because “farther” has the word “far” in it, and“far” obviously relates to physical distance.
FATHER: Dear old Dad.
FURTHER: Use “further” for metaphorical, or figurative, distance.
FURTHERMORE: Use “furthermore” when you mean “in addition.”

TO: To is a preposition. “I am going to work.”
TOO: Too is an adverb. Try substituting “also” and see if it still makes sense. “She is going to work, too.”
TWO: Two is a number. “Two of us are going to work today.”

BREAK: You use this when you take a break at work or when you break something.
BRAKE: The pedal in your car that makes the car stop.

PEAK: A peak is a summit.
PEEK: A peek is a glimpse.
PIQUE: This s a French word meaning “prick,” in the sense of “stimulate.” Therefore the expression is “my curiosity was piqued.” If someone reacts badly because their pride is hurt, this is a “fit of pique”.

VILA: Bob Vila will help you with your home repairs.
VILLA: A fancy home.
VIOLA: Tiny violin-like instrument.
VOILA: French for “Here it is!” This is probably the word you want.
WA LA or WAH LAH: Just…no. No. WRONG. Stop that.
WALLA: A Hindi word used in UK slang as a suffix to mean “takes care of”: i.e., a dishwalla is a person who washes the dishes.
WALLA WALLA: A town in the state of Washington.

THE REASON WHY: Just flat wrong, It does NOT mean “That is why.” Redundant.
HENCE WHY: Just flat WRONG. It does NOT mean “That is why.” Redundant.
HENSE: Graffiti artist based in Atlanta.
HENCE: Hence is used in a couple of ways. First, it can mean away from this place or away from this time: “Get thee hence,” or “We’ll meet again two weeks hence.” It can also mean “therefore” or “as a result”. So you could say “It was raining, which is why I got wet,” OR “It was raining; hence, I got wet.”

Grammar Nazi Cat has been forced to retaliate by taking an authoritarian stance after years of frustration spawned by scores of Internet users’ illiteracy.

MORE PROTIPS:

Confused about LAY vs. LIE? Lie is an intransitive verb meaning “to recline or rest on a surface”. Its principal parts are “lie, lay, lain”. Lay is a transitive verb meaning “to put or place”. Its principal parts are “lay, laid”. Hint: “Chickens lay eggs”. “I lie down when I am tired.” Still confused? You need advanced help: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/lay-versus-lie.aspx

SET, SIT: “Set” is a transitive verb meaning “to put or to place”. Its principal parts are “set, set, set”. “Sit” is an intransitive verb meaning “to be seated”. Its principal parts are “sit, sat, sat”. “She set the dough in a warm corner of the kitchen.” “The cat sat in the warmest part of the room.”

WHO, WHICH, THAT: Do not use “which” to refer to persons. Use “who” instead. “That”, though generally used to refer to things, may be used to refer to a group or class of people. “I just saw a boy who was wearing a yellow banana costume.” “I have to go to math next, which is my hardest class.” “Where is the book that I was reading?”

WHO’s: Means “who is.”
WHOSE: Possessive. “Whose shoes are these?” means “To whom do these shoes belong?” or “Who owns these shoes?”

SEGUE: It is pronounced “seg-way.”

COULD HAVE / COULD’VE: Not “could of.” “Could’ve” is risky, use it carefully.
SHOULD HAVE / SHOULD’VE: Not “should of.” “Should’ve” is risky, use it carefully.
WOULD HAVE / WOULD’VE: Not “would of.” “Would’ve” is risky, use it carefully.

SUPPOSED TO: Do not omit the “d”. “Suppose to” is incorrect.
USED TO: Same as above. Do not write “use to”.

IN REGARD TO / WITH REGARD TO: Please note that there is no “s” in “regard”.
REGARDS: A nice way to sign off a letter. (Please observe that the “T” is close to the “G” on your keyboard: proofread before you send your note.)

TOWARD: There is no “s” at the end of the word.
ANYWAY: Also has no ending “s”. “Anyways” is nonstandard.

COULDN’T CARE LESS: Be sure to make it negative. (Not “I could care less”.)

ALL WALKS OF LIFE: Not “woks of life”. This phrase does not apply to Asian cuisine.

ORIENTAL: Refers to things from Asia, like rugs, not people.
ASIAN: People from Asia.

CHEST OF DRAWERS: Not “chester drawers”.

PEDESTAL: Not “petal stool” or “pedal stool”.
PEDAL: The little doohickeys you press with your feet in your car.
PETAL: Part of a flower.

LADDER: A thing you climb. It has rungs.
LATTER: When referring to two things, one is the former (or first), and one is the latter (or last).

SHUTTER: A hinged wooden window covering.
SHUDDER: To briefly shake oneself violently. “I shudder to think.”

FAUX PAS: Means “false step,” and you make a faux pas when you spell it incorrectly. Just sayin’.

FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES: Not “intensive purposes”.

PER SE: It is not “per say.” (Don’t use “per se” if you can’t define or spell it properly.)

Hope this helps.

High Five Grammar Cat offers congratulations.

The World’s Dumbest Dog

My childhood pet was a beagle, and I am starting to suspect that beagles tend to be functionally retarded at the best of times. Adorable, big brown eyes, eager to please, total doggie derps with not two brain cells to knock together inside their empty little heads, beagles may be the canine world’s Inbred Jeds. At least they are sweet-tempered beasts.

Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, was a beagle. Everything you learned about Snoopy is a damn lie. Snoopy is portrayed as being creative, smart and clever. I know Snoopy is imaginary because he is a comic strip character, but still, it is false advertising. I can count the number of beagles I have met on one hand (with fingers to spare) that showed any sign of intelligence.

Brandy, our family dog when I was small, was the least smart of them all. Now, Brandy was sweet, and loving, but her total lack of smarts used to drive us crazy. I actually saw her walk into a wall, look at it accusingly, as if to complain that it shouldn’t have jumped out in front of her like it just did, back up, and then promptly walk right back into it again. This is a dog with normal eyesight who wasn’t senile. She was just that mentally challenged.

Brandy was also fucking LOUD. Hounds have a special kind of bark-howl that non-hound-owners are unfamiliar with. Brandy would greet us enthusiastically with ear-piercing howls of joy whenever we came home. Alas, she was so incredibly dim that she interpreted someone leaving the room and coming right back as a signal to cue Joyous Homecoming Arias.

When the family moved into an apartment complex, we were so used to Brandy’s enthusiastic and high-decibel greeting style that we were shocked when neighbors started pounding on our door, trembling with outrage, and threatening to tell the ASPCA that we were beating our dog. We’d have to spend an annoying length of time explaining that no, we did no such thing, we loved the fucking dog, though sometimes we wondered why, and if the neighbor seemed the least bit dubious, we’d only have to open the door and go back inside, neighbor by our sides, to cue Brandy’s bark-howls of ecstasy. We’d be twenty feet away and she’d still be howling like an air raid siren and about to wet herself with delight. No one ever complained twice.

We tried for five years to train the dog. The only command she mastered semi-successfully was coming when called. She didn’t always put two and two together and realize we were actually talking to her, but if you made eye contact, she would lumber over most of the time for some petting and ear-rubbing. The dog was just retarded beyond belief. I have owned smarter gerbils, and a typical gerbil has a brain the size of a frozen English pea.

Beagles, like most hounds, live to eat. In addition to being a typical beagle with an insatiable appetite, Brandy was incredibly lazy. You didn’t take Brandy for a walk, you took her for a slow drag, or an even slower inch by inch inspection of every blade of grass in the yard. My brother and I would try to think of things for the dog to do that might induce her to get some exercise. We’d walk her up and down staircases, up and down off curbs, and around and around the neighborhood, and she’d eat anything she could get into her mouth while trudging along half-heartedly behind us.

She was too stupid to play fetch. You’d throw a ball, and she’d decide that it ceased to exist once it flew over her head, and would just sit there, stupidly, wondering what we were going on about. We tried to get her to fetch sticks. If she managed to clue in that we wanted her to go get the stick, she’d occasionally manage to find it by accident a half hour later, and settle in for a mid-day snack and eat it. Every scrap.

By the time the dog was a year old, it was obvious that she wasn’t plump from puppy fat, she was just fat. By the time she was two, she looked like two beagles glued together. By the time she was five, she was a barrel supported by four tiny furry toothpicks. We were baffled. The dog was on diet dog food, exercised, and she still ballooned in size. The Goodyear Mutt. Meanwhile, the cat didn’t seem to ever gain much weight. Clever detective work revealed that the dog was just bright enough to wait until there were no human witnesses before eating the cat’s food and then her own.

We started to feed the cat on top of the clothes dryer in the utility room. The dog started to eat the plastic dishes and aluminum pot pie pans her food and water were served in. We switched to ceramic, and she managed to break and eat chunks of those, too. We finally moved on to thick metal bowls, and she was thwarted, but only for a while. She found other things to eat.

I could write a book about the bizarre things the dog managed to consume. We always considered it a miracle that she didn’t ever eat our cat. Socks was a lot smarter than Brandy, however, and that may have been what saved her.

(On an ironic note, I was in first grade when we got the animals, and, being an advanced reader, I’d already read a lot of Beverly Cleary books. Socks was named after the book (what else) “Socks”. Brandy was originally going to be called “Ribsy”, after a dog in another Cleary book, but my mother loudly vetoed that idea and named her (I suspect) after a particularly wet top-40 song she had once liked about a fine girl who would be a good wife, if only her cheatin’ tramp of a sailor boyfriend could stop dicking around and leave the Navy (or whatever) once and for all and settle down.

Calling this dog “Ribsy” would have been the equivalent of calling a really big, tall, fat guy “Tiny,” or referring to George W. Bush as “Einstein.”)

fat beagle photo found at lemoney92.blogspot.com

This is not Brandy. Brandy was even fatter.

First of all, Brandy was a coprophage. Many dogs are. She was a dedicated coprophage, though, and would harass the cat while she was in mid-poop, just to get those delicious cat brownies in the cat box. On the plus side, we didn’t have to change the cat box very often. Brandy would not only eat the poop, she’d eat most of the pee-soaked litter. During shedding season, we never had a problem with fur getting on anything, because the dog licked all the shedding fur off of herself and the cat.

One fine day the dog found a box of crayons, one of those enormous 128-color boxes, the largest size Crayola made. It had been left unattended for ten minutes while the child coloring with the crayons went to the bathroom. When the budding artist (me) returned, the crayons were gone. Accusations of sibling theft flew back and forth, a brawl broke out, every corner of the house was ransacked, parents were prevailed upon to restore order (and the crayons), all to no avail. This huge box of crayons was just gone.

The next day, and for the next several days, the dog’s crap came out in a rainbow of colors. Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue, she could shit a rainbow, shit a rainbow, shit a rainbow, too. On day five, the crayon sharpener that had been built into the box emerged, jauntily perched atop a perfect sky-blue-pink turd swirl. The mystery of the missing crayons had been solved.

The dog discovered that my mother used old-fashioned Kotex pads, and wrapped them in toilet paper and put them into a straw wastebasket. Used Kotex pads were apparently a delicacy, because the dog ate them, ate the other things in the wastebasket, and half of the wastebasket itself. More than once.

The dog ate a dead lightbulb.

The dog ate the air fern my mom had been fussing over that sat in a prominent place in the living room that you would never believe a fat dog could reach.

The dog ate entire rolls of toilet paper plus the toilet tube and the toilet roll spindle.

The dog ate bottles of lotion, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste.

The dog ate several fuzzy bathmats.

The dog ate stinky “OdorEaters” insoles and orthopedic arch-supporting cookies our of shoes, if for some odd reason she chose not to just go ahead and devour the entire shoe.

The dog pried up chunks out of the wooden parquet floor and ate them.

The dog ate two rubber doormats made out of recycled tires.

The dog ate toilet cakes and the little plastic baskets they dangled down from.

The dog once ate a metal Hot Wheels firetruck. It was never seen again.

The dog ate several hundred pot pie tin pans that we used to feed the cat, as occasionally one would get nudged to the edge of the clothes dryer.

The dog ate toothbrushes, hair brushes, and entire tubes of lipstick (which emerged whole, cap still on, days later).

Our dryer never had a chance to eat our socks, the dog would eat them first. Brandy was also fond of underwear, pants, shorts, t-shirts, and anything else that she could scavenge out of the laundry hamper.

The dog ate most of the Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, plastic toy vehicles, stuffed animals, Barbies and books she could find.

The dog pretty much ate everything that wasn’t nailed down, and then started in on the nailed-down stuff, too.

It was after it was estimated that the dog had eaten approximately $5,000 worth of household goods, clothing and toys that my parents decided to confine the dog in the kitchen at night. The dog ate two square feet of linoleum, chewed up and ate several baby gates, ate the legs of the kitchen table, ate several legs of the kitchen chairs, dragged the new wall-to-wall carpet under the babygate and ate a hole three feet wide and two feet long out of the carpet and underliner, and ate knobs off the cabinets.

Again, the vets could not find any physical ailment to explain the voraciousness, and just said that “all hounds do that.” I don’t know…I’ve known a lot of hounds, and they do eat whatever they can, but they tend to prefer actual food items.

Please note that I’m only giving you the highlights, here. The dog ate things that no one would ever believe could be eaten, and she did it on a nearly daily basis. We weren’t untidy people, and some of the things this four-legged furry Jell-o mold managed to find, acquire, and then eat had to have involved doggie teleportation or telekinesis.

The most infamous episode of inappropriate eating occurred during a posh cocktail party my parents were throwing. My mom slaved for hours making a huge sherry-infused cheeseball, rolling it in sliced nuts, and baking it in the oven so it was approximately 500 degrees Fahrenheit right before the guests arrived. She popped a maraschino cherry on top, stuck it on a cutting board with crackers and toast points, and as she set it onto the coffee table, the doorbell rang.

As my mother let the first guests in, everyone heard agonized yelps coming from the den. Everyone ran to see what the horrible noises were, and there was the dog, eating six pounds of piping hot molten cheese, and crying out in pain because it was burning her mouth, throat and stomach, and the dog was too stupid to figure out that perhaps eating a boiling hot cheeseball was a bad idea and to STOP.

Her craps that week became an epic event for all the neighborhood kids to point at and marvel over, so prodigious was their size and length. She was pooping dachshund-sized landmines everywhere for days. I don’t mean poops equivalent to poops a dachshund might poop, I mean poops that just needed legs, a collar and a tail to be mistaken for actual dachshunds. How her butthole didn’t go on strike, I don’t know. It is a mystery. It was a hot topic of discussion even at the neighborhood bus top–”those kids’ beagle made the biggest poos in the world, it might be a Guinness Book World Record-sized poo, the poos were almost as big as the dog, but that dog might well win a record for being the fattest dog ever to roll into a backyard to drop a load”…you get the idea.

How the dog managed to fit six pounds of cheese into her belly was a mystery to me, as she also ate four pairs of pants (crotches, mostly), one sock, a left shoe (all but the heel), six pairs of underwear (including elastic), and the covers and most of the chapters from two textbooks (which had foolishly been left on top of my bed) the same night.

It was at this point that I threw my hands up and disowned the dog.

Just to prove that ignorance is bliss and only the good die young, this dog lived a looooooong, loooooong time, eating new and bizarre inedible things of greater size and strangeness, and finally ended up dying peacefully of old age. Not once did her crazy eating habits cause her any gastrointestinal dismay.

I may sound like a bitch, but even though I loved the dog, I don’t miss her one bit. I no longer worry that when I come home, something expensive will have vanished into Brandy’s voracious and indestructible maw. Really, I am just too poor to pay for all the inevitable vet bills.

Rest in peace, Brandy.