I’m scribbling this with my left hand, holding a penlight in my teeth as I try and shove Eightball’s ass out of my face with my right.
“Gawd, you stink, Eightball!” I snarl. “And you need a bath!”
Eightball doesn’t care. It’s all the same to him. I can’t tell if he’s happy to have company or just horny. Yeah… I’m in the doghouse again.
There I was, cold beer in one hand, remote in the other, game on the tube. I had just slid the length of the linoleum in my stocking feet, vaulted the back of the couch and the dust hadn’t settled from my perfect 9.5 landing when she rounded the corner.
“Barbara called. We’re having lunch in an hour. Shower, shave and change your clothes,” she ordered, “and no shorts. After that, you’re taking us shopping.”
How could it all go so wrong so fast? A mugger takes longer to rob a cripple in a dark alley.
Barb- she hates to be called ‘Barb’- is a rabid vegetarian and local neighborhood relationship Nazi. I’m a carnivore and Republican. We don’t like each other.
“Not me… I’m watching the game. Tell Mike he won’t look like such a Nancy-man if he holds her purse in his left hand. Have a nice time, honey.”
It was a good try. It didn’t work and I knew it wouldn’t, but when in doubt, give orders and act like you’re in charge.
“Since when did you start caring more about baseball than me?” The war was over before I had a chance to load and fire and it would have been easier, certainly safer to just throw up my hands and surrender but I couldn’t let it go without taking at least one wild shot.
“Ever since my Dad showed me how to keep my nuts from being slammed up behind my ears by short shagging a one-hop line-drive… and speaking of having my nuts slammed up behind my ears, how is your mother?”
Too much powder in the magazine. It blew up in my face. A man would have laughed. She didn’t. I could hear the sound of a half dozen Doghouse Manifesto rules crashing like glass to the ground, starting with: RULE # 1978 from the GENERAL LIVING SECTION- SUB PARAGRAPH: C- about midway through the second line: “…the truth is seldom pretty and almost always painful…”and RULE # 36 from the relationship and romance limited edition chapter, “Never, but never, mention her mother in any argument!”
“Shower, shave, change your clothes- no shorts- and brush your teeth! We’ll talk about your nuts and my mother later!” She growled.
I didn’t like the way she ground her teeth when she said ‘your nuts and my mother,’ two subjects that should never be uttered by a woman in the same sentence unless she’s dressed in a negligee and smiling like a prostitute, and maybe not even then. It didn’t sound like she was going to be wearing my favorite Victoria’s Secret bra and panty set when we discussed it later. Well, what the hell, the day was shot anyway.
Hey, you have seen them in the local malls and department stores; gut shot deer who used to be men, slumped over in rigid unforgiving plastic and chrome orange chairs holding purses and pocket books; a bewildered Neanderthal in the local grocery isle, grunting incoherently, thumbing and pawing at a box of feminine napkins like he’s trying to choose a suitable rock with which to kill himself and for what? Raw cucumber and watercress sandwiches and sun-tea in the afternoon with the Girls Gossip & Gestapo Glee Club and Coffee Klatch, while he shudders in the shadows with the rest of the boys; all of whom have been told to stand straight, don’t get dirty, spit, scratch, fidget or swear! And by the time he figures it all out; it’s too late, it’s over. All that’s left is a second-hand well thumbed copy of the Doghouse Manifesto and an inscrutable set of confusing rules that make sense only after he breaks them.
“You know what, Eightball?” I mumble as I shove his ass out of my face for the ninth time. “When I get out of here, I’m packing you off to that big bull groomer at Petco; you know, the one who’s rumored to be a woman? And then, just for laughs, I’m taking you to the sissy in the lavender lab coat at the Vet for a rectal exam!”