I eat chips & dip in the laundry room. This is what I’ve been reduced to. Now that you’ve read the conclusion, it’s your choice to continue.
Through a series of unfortunate events, I’m cohabiting with 2 dogs. My general distaste for people does not carry over to dogs. Dogs will never borrow money and not pay it back. They’ll never call you from the car, say they’re on their way, and just not show up. You always know where you stand with them. That said I do not indulge or pander to them either. Much like a friend’s child, they can be cute, but if not disciplined, you must reassess your relationship with that person. An ill mannered or unkempt dog is best ignored like a baby or a booger on the lapel of the greeter at Wal-Mart. If they just stay off of me, we can silently co-exist in the same general vicinity.
I am a tidy person. No, I do not keep my furniture sheathed in plastic but I do empty my trash before it spills onto the floor and I put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I do hang my coats in a closet, I do not make guests remove their shoes. Get it? Good. As you can imagine, living with animals that are not my own is difficult at times. I’ve known them for some time and find them to be well-intentioned but malodorous creatures. They are not yippy, nor do they bark. The only sound they make is a click-clack on wood floors and the occasional friendly growl at their counterpart, in the interest of horseplay, in which case they are put outdoors for a minimum of 60 minutes.
Goldie (not her real name, as you know, I am very respectful of privacy here) is the more dominant of the 2 mongrels. She is not big, nor is she small. I don’t need to know her breed anymore than I need to know your ethnicity to share space with you. She has no distinguishing features other than obstinate eyes and disproportionately short front legs. I would call her husky if the calendar read 1975. I’m not sure what the accepted term is now, nor do I care to know — she’s not thin. When she refuses to come inside while I call for her from the backdoor I call her stubby, as in — “Stubby, come on! Get in the house!” When discipline needs to be dispensed on her sister, Blackie [see: below], she handles it quickly and fairly. I would not choose her as a roommate but we’ve grown used to each other and she is no longer on day to day terms with me.
Blackie is a different story. For all of her charms, she is mostly a pain in my ass. I spend more time sighing loudly at her than I do speaking at her. Frequently, when she does something irresponsible, I simply look at her with eyebrows raised, sigh (loud enough that she knows what time it is), call for Goldie, and walk away. Blackie looks like a greyhound. She is long and lean, a bit taller than her sister (the dogs are not actually related, but they were raised together, so this is their accepted relationship label). She also has the most gentle and nervous temperament of any pooch I’ve ever seen. I suspect before she was selected for home delivery at The Pound by my sister, she was victim of the infamous “ride in the country” we’ve all heard about. She was just 2 months old when my sister got her, so I fear this early abandonment left behind psychological damage on her; the kind that cannot be fixed. I don’t want sympathy for my difficult childhood so I try to extend to her the same respect. I do not coddle her but I think it would be disingenuous for me to say I treat her as I do Goldie. If Blackie gets extra treats or more couch allowances it’s only because she needs it. Admittedly, she does have the kindest eyes I’ve seen on an animal, or a human for that matter. She also drives me to the brink of insanity with her pathological fears of garbage trucks, flyswatters, coffee grinders, the game Operation, the buzzer on the dryer, the opening credit sequence of Battlestar Galactica, the vacuum, the toaster (english muffins only, bread does not bother her), the doorbell, the sound my belt makes when I release my pants to the floor after a long day, the garbage disposal, thunder, falling leaves, frisbees, my impersonation of Sean Connery, the food chopper, and the “GNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN” sound I make when one of my blog posts is eaten never to be found again. The slightest hint of any of the above listed items send her into full panic mode. It’s always the same:
Step 1: Freezes like a statue for a brief fermata while she determines where her safe place will be.
Step 2: She dips her head so low to the ground it looks like it’s not attached to her shoulders (do dogs have shoulders?).
Step 3: She moves quickly and silently to her panic room.
Step 4: When she arrives in her panic room she fixates on a spot on the wall.
Step 5: She stands there and shakes for a period of at least 5 minutes but lasting up to 2 hours (thunderstorms).
This has been going on for 5 years and nothing can alter her panic mode routine. In the months we’ve lived together I’ve learned that it’s best to ignore her and let her work it out. Sometimes, girls just want to be left alone.
So I’m living with animals. They’re relatively well mannered but like all of you, they have their faults. Most of them, I simply ignore. When they sniff each other’s asses, I look away disapprovingly. When they urinate onto the urine of their sister, I pretend not to notice. When they lick themselves, I busy myself in another room. Filthy habits, to be sure, but none of them have an effect on how I live my life, so it’s nothing I can’t handle. However, there is one thing they do that I cannot stand and I’ve become cross many times.
They fucking stare at me when I eat. No matter what it is, or where I eat it, they find me and watch. I know it’s because my sister gives them table food. It’s almost Pavlovian! The thing is, I don’t give them table food. I never have. I don’t bury my face in their designer dog food bowl so why should they think I’m going to give them my food? Seriously, it’s not going to fucking happen. The worst part is, they aren’t even looking at the food itself, but at my mouth as I shovel and chew. It’s currently #2 on my list of things that make me crazy. And, and, they hate it when you watch them eat! When I put food into their bowl they won’t go near it until I leave. If one of them is eating and I walk through, they stop eating and shuffle away. I have to schedule my infrequent meals around their backyardshenanigans. Even then, I’ll look up and they’ll be peering at me through the backdoor like a couple of doe-eyed gargoyles. It’s like they know when I’m hungry. They can sense it. Even if they’re taking one of their 4 hour naps I cannot sneak a snack. Which brings us to my introduction/conclusion.
I eat in the laundry room. It’s between the kitchen and the garage. It’s 6 X 6 and smells vaguely of detergent. Also, this time of year, it’s colder than a brass toilet seat in the Yukon in there. I keep a fleece jacket on the back of the door so I can eat comfortably in the laundry room. It’s not fancy, but it’s quiet, it’s cozy, and it’s mine. It works well since 90% of my meals are burritos, pizza, or sandwiches. It gets tricky when you go with foods requiring 2 hands, like soup, cereal, and chips & dip.
You don’t get a body like this eating chips & dip but my sister always buys them. I would never purchase them but I will not let them go to waste either. So yesterday in the midst of a snack attack I grabbed the chips & dip and didn’t even break my stride, I just went straight to the laundry room. The dogs were on it too. The second they heard the bag crinkle, they were off like a shot to head me off. They lost. I got into the laundry room and slammed the door just before their probing eyes could see what I had (this is very important to me, I find a meal/snack less enjoyable in my laundry room if they know what I’m eating on the other side of the door). I opened the door to the garage, opened the garage door, waited a beat, let the door go, and quickly reached around and hit the button to close the garage just as the door slammed, missing my paw by inches. Then it’s a waiting game. The dogs are not as smart as me. If I stand there, motionless and silently for long enough, they think I’m gone. I just wait until I hear Goldie sigh angrily “HARUMMMPH!” and click-clack away. Once I hear them run up the stairs I know I’m free to eat my snack in the laundry room in peace. I must tell you, nothing tastes finer than a potato chip with just a dab of dip eaten unmolested from the probing eyes of beasts. It’s like contraband! Food just tastes better in the laundry room.
Am I proud that I’m a grown man stealing furtive bites of food standing in the laundry room so dogs of loose relation and questionable background can’t see me eat? Not really. I’m also unashamed. A man should not be judged by his issues, but rather they way he chooses to deal with them. If I were to invite you to my home for a meal (this is very, very, very, unlikely), you would pass by the laundry room on the way to the kitchen and dining room. Perhaps we could throw caution to the wind and I’d share my little treat nook with you! Perhaps…
but probably not.