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Monday, January 25, 2010

Worried Man Blues

My dog has recently began gnawing incessantly on his leg.

He's had hot spots before, but this one seems especially impervious to all manner of spray treatments and even the terribly tasty, beefaricious treats I give him to turn his attention from chomping with Olympian enthusiasm on his leg are no effective distraction. He does it when our backs are turned. For years, he could not bear to be in a different room than us. Now, when I'm upstairs blogging and my wife is upstairs crafting, that sonofabitch will stay downstairs, macheting his way through his leg with his little machete teeth. We'll go downstairs and find him, the fur by his mouth sopping wet, just looking at us like,


And there's a puddle on the couch. That doesn't smell like pee. Because I've checked.

I don't know what it is, and the vet couldn't adequately explain it either on our last visit there. Sometimes I think that he's worried, or anxious. That he knows, at 12, there are things that he doesn't really do anymore, or that he has more difficulty doing, and maybe this concerns him. Maybe somewhere in that kibble-ridden brain of his he knows that the end is now closer than it was.

And then I think, no, you stupid dimbledick, dogs don't understand aging, and they don't know what death is. Stop projecting, you maudlin motherfuck.

I don't know for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that, were I flexible enough to gnaw obsessively at my ankle, I'd do it. I'm that anxious. Last night as I turned fitfully in bed, my flannel pajama pants riding all the way up my asscrack, I heard the cuckoo downstairs announce 2:00am, 2:30am, 3:00am, 3:30am, 4:00am, 4:30am, and definitely 5:00am. I think I might have fallen asleep somewhere just after five, because I had just enough time for a nightmare before the alarm clock woke us up officially at 6:10am. And I'm glad I found the time to fit that in, because it was a doozy.

I dreamt that my boss had hired a bunch of new teachers that I was to supervise and put through an orientation, in the cheery, happy-go-lucky, positively positive, schmoopie-doop manner of our charming little non-profit. Well, most of these new "teachers" were droopy-eyed, college-aged male d-bags who were more interested in checking out the new female teachers' tits and fucking off with each other than listening to me. They didn't even know what classes they were supposed to teach. One of them refused to tell me his name. So I went up to him and I grabbed onto his arm and whispered hotly into his ear,

"Listen. Don't. Fuck. With. Me."

And I kept squeezing until I heard a distinct snap. Oops. Did I do that?

Then I got fired. As I was cleaning my desk out, a very tall geeky scientist-looking guy in a white lab coat came up to me holding a Zip-Loc bag containing the very small remnants of a ham and cheese sandwich.

"Excuse me," he said to me in a very Germanlicious accent, "I tink ve need to talk about thees sandvich."

I looked at it.

"That was my sandwich."

"Ja," he said, "but I didn't vant the Jew eating ham and cheese."

And then he hugged me. Kind of makes you glad that I didn't sleep for more than an hour and fifteen minutes, huh?

Last night, I just couldn't sleep. There was the equivalent of a tropical storm going on outside our windows. Not that the storm itself particularly disturbed me, but it gave me an excellent opportunity to obsess about whether or not our gutters are clogged. We've lived in this house since February and have not cleaned the gutters once. This is what homeowners think about late at night, for the uninitiated. Two weeks ago, some loser with torn pants who wanted us to hire him to paint our house called me and asked if we needed our gutters cleaned.

"Because, you know," he stammered, "in this economy, I can't wait for work to find me."

"Yeah, I hear you. Thanks, but I clean the gutters out myself," I lied.

There's probably an entire family of drowned marmosets sloshing around in those gutters of mine. But I'll be good goddamned if I'm going up there on a ladder to prove it. I'd rather just lie in bed worrying about it.

I was also obsessing over the fact that I have a play opening next month and I don't know my lines. Am I going to review my lines today? I doubt it. Why? Because it's a play I don't want to be in. If I wanted to be in it, the lines would have been memorized to the exact punctuation three weeks ago.

Then I started in on my obligations to other people. Things I promised I'd do that I haven't. People who've emailed me whom I haven't written back to, blogs I don't keep up reading, friends I've lost, my goddamn pocket watch ticking far too loudly on the dresser next to my head, and then, of course, worrying that my incessant turning is keeping my wife up. Of course, this morning, she reported that she was fast asleep all night.

"I'm a good girl," says she.

Of course, if you look at me today after I've had my coffee, you won't know that I'm such a crazy fuck. Sure, there'll be dark circles under my eyes, but I've had those since second grade, when I used to force myself to stay up until I could hear the birds sing in the trees, signaling that everything was alright and then I could sleep from 6am-8am before having to be in elementary school at 9:25. I did that shit for years. I guess this is why God made people like me incapable of great flexibility, because if we were as flexible as a rubber band, or a dog, we'd gnaw the shit out of our ankles and we'd gimp our way through life, and everybody would know we were worried men.

On Saturday at my banjo lesson, my teacher asked me if I was familiar with the song, "Worried Man Blues." The question struck me as very funny.

"Familiar with it?" I laughed, "I wrote it."


  1. I love this.
    You should try my version of that song. The one that I wrote. It's called, "Get me a god damned martini or I'm going to go insane because I feel so overwhelmed I can't remember my name."

    The chorus is less verbose.

  2. I had a nightmare that a girl had toes for fingers. It was disturbing.

  3. Practice your lines! I haven't been in a show since college, but in my most frequently-occuring nightmare I am standing on stage, completely unaware of my lines. I'm sure it has some deep symbolic meaning, like I'm going through life unscripted and without a clue.

  4. Dogs gnawing at paws often signals an allergy. You can give dogs Benadryl and that sometimes helps. I don't know the size of your dog, but it's usually one pill. You could start with half to see if that works. And not the gel kind--only the run of the mill kind.

  5. You know, I often why animals are so gross. I mean, my cats are weird. Lenny (who's gay) licks himself until he bleeds. Rosie (she's feral) chews her toes and tail. Whatever. Just as long as they don't do it on my bed. Ew.


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