When I hear the phrase, “March Madness,” I usually think of statistics and bingo like boxes labeled with teams, hasty X marks, and choking competitive air. It also reminds me of grimy floors, and the rowdy sounds of beer and grease from my days as a waitress. Although I somewhat get what’s going on, I know nothing about the teams or leagues involved nor do I give a dung beetle. In fact, I don’t know much about sports other than I can usually pick out certain athletes based on height and body shape due to stereotypes. (I’m more impressed by the bodies than the games.)
This March, (and probably every March, and month prior for that matter,) I have my own version of March Madness to chart-welcome to the world of drama incarnate. My grid is organized by adjectives describing my issues, and which defense or offense they’ll excite. And a bank of wild cards, filling in spaces explaining how they were played. The outcome is usually a comedy or dramaedy of errors instead of a cash prize.
The craziness began this month with the drunken calls from my mother; the gunpowder residue didn’t thicken until later on in the week. I wasn’t able to see any of it until my relationship with Susan started to cook. The first episode was a mild catalyst, a minor explosion before the big blast.
One night, we were lying around on the sofa, I couldn’t completely sprawl because her chog (child/dog) was taking up a square. “What is this? I can’t even stretch my legs because of the damn dog. Why can’t she just be a dog’s, dog, and lie on the floor like my sweet dog, Floyd? She’s disobedient, self-righteous and presumptuous. (Am I really talking about a dog?) I hate how she thinks the furniture belongs to her. She mountain goats up and down as she pleases, like she owns the place.” I became agitated, twisting myself against the pinch in my side radiating down around the girdle of my back. I was cock-eyed due to the canine claimed territory. I snapped, “TASHA, OFF” as I moved myself into a more comfortable position. As expected, she went deaf. I grumbled and bounced, “Susan, please, make her get down. She won’t move, and she’s making herself heavy.” I got up to put something in my mouth in hopes of a cooling rush.
The dog followed. Oh, now you can hear me?” I snacked aggressively on anything resembling sugar and resumed lounging next to Susan. The old-Chinese-man looking, bearded terrier jumped back up, but this time she decided to get between Susan’s hands, which were rubbing my tight temples, and my head. Dog-ass and whip- tail were in my face and the hands that were massaging me were gone. When I rolled my eyeballs up I saw them stroking the hairy, pointy ears instead. I felt something, but it didn’t seem right. “Why does she always come between us whenever we are being physical? She reaches out with long sharp paws and scratches at us when we aren’t giving her any attention. “Attention whore!” (Stomping my foot, hands poised at the hips, and feeling three-years-old.) We’re not even together all the time. Can’t Susan just pet her for hours on end when I’m not around? Stroke her “sleep centers” when I’m with the kids? And pick at the dog’s eye crust without me seeing it?” That type of grooming stirs my acids. “What is wrong with me, am I just annoyed with this stinky-gremlin looking creature, who doesn’t respect my authority, or am I jealous? That’s ridiculous, she’s a dog, but she’s making me crazy. How could I possibly be jealous of a dog?” (Like I need anymore help in that department.) I flopped around a little looking for a better view, but I couldn’t get away from the smell of anal glands. “Susan! She stinks. Please move her. I sat up and felt a wet spot under my shin. “What in the world?” I lowered my nose to the tire- sized ring of moisture on my new sofa. “YUCK! It’s pee, she peed!” To myself, “That little f’er peed on my couch because I made her get down. I’m going to beat her shaggy ass. ” Out-loud, “What the hell? Get her out.” I pulled and tugged at the slipcover as Susan ushered the dogs out the door. Floyd looked back with sad eyes as he dry humped the air, “It wasn’t me, promise.”
I stripped the sofa, and in a piss threw everything in the washer. Susan and the dogs stayed out of my way. My temper was at homeland security red. I went to the bathroom to curse myself down to orange before coming out. “I can’t take that freaking dog anymore. She’s driving me insane with her pitter-pattering little paws on my kitchen floor. She’s always under me, as I bump my elbows and toes trying not to step on her. And the begging for food at the table, I’m over the watcher and the scratching of the paws on my bare thighs. I can’t sleep when she’s around either, oh my poor bed. She curls her heat seeking sack of fur around my feet, and stinks up my five hundred-thread count Egyptian cotton with her beef-jerky. I can’t believe I have to sleep in the bed with an animal. This is ridiculous. She is a dog, not a child.” All these and other egotistical thoughts filled my head, but in my heart I knew I was angry, and out of line. (I hope this post doesn’t put me in the “out of relationship line” with Susan. Hi babe. ☺)
Growing up with my mom I took on the white-trash mentality of pet ownership: Every man, woman, child, cat and dog for themselves. We had about eights cats over the span of my childhood, all of which died horrendous deaths made for “Animal Planet Dramatizations.” Let’s see, one cat was shot, the other mutilated in the engine of my mom’s station wagon, and another was mashed underneath a tire from the same wagon. My favorite cat Sassy, took up with some rich folks when she ran off. Our big red Tomcat was left behind when we moved, and he’s brother was found mangled on the side of the road. The rest of the strays ran off when we’d stop feeding them.
Once I had two blue parakeets, Sally and Hooper (From Smokey and the bandit.) who died of heat stroke when we moved from the XXX scary dry cleaning building and didn’t go back to get them for a few days. “OH my god Shannon, look, they’re at the bottom of the cage upside down.” And then she laughed at their stiff feet.
We never took our pets to the vet unless they needed to be put down. We were always affectionate with our animals; we just didn’t take very good care of them. There wasn’t much money leftover for quality pet owning. They came and went like my mom’s mood swings. The fleas were never far behind.
Over the years we had five dogs, two were “stolen” “We live in a bad neighborhood Shannon, people steal dogs.” Two were put to sleep, one for eating cats and the other for biting my sister in the head. The fifth was a stray that followed me home from the river. He was the one who lifted his leg on the sofa but you wouldn’t know it until you sat down and felt the squish. I’d watch him hunker to leave a pile on the floor for me to clean up. The old rub the nose in the stuff trick didn’t work. Eventually he went back the way he came.
We were dysfunctional pet owners, but I loved having animals around and would bring home anything that needed shelter. I’d bury my face in fur to cry when nobody cared. I’d moan in their ears, “I miss Paw-Paw, he would take care of me if he were still alive. He wouldn’t let momma do those things to me.” I told them my secrets and they listened attentively.
I tried my best to nurse Big-Red, the Tomcat when a rival chewed off his ear. I poured peroxide on it as he hissed and pushed out his claws. I spoke kindly to my companions and played make-believe for hours with them. I’d put Sassy in my backpack and ride on my bike with her to the convenient store. I’d sit under a tree with my Funions, Ding Dong’s, Nerds and Welch’s grape, while she waited in the bag. At times animals were my only trusted companions, especially when I felt alone in the world.
The day before Tasha “urinated in submission” (My ass.) Tasha stayed home with me while Susan went to work. I spent the morning writing as she nuzzled up next to me. Every twenty minutes or so I’d reach down to tug at her beard, kissing her between the eyes. I spoke sweetly, “You’re such a good girl. I’ll get that beard. Momma loves you. (Claiming her as mine.) She’s only a baby.” I thoroughly enjoyed her company and was so glad to have her as a snuggie.
I’ve always loved Toreata, (The “street” nickname I gave her.) and I made certain that not only Susan fall in love with me, but Tasha as well. I knew from the get-go they were a combo-pack, just like she knew I came with combustible bags. That day my mind brought up every grievance I’d ever had against her doggy self and I couldn’t stop myself. It was the end of the week after dealing with my mom, and the passé pottying was enough to pull my trigger.
For the most part, my feelings towards her aren’t much different than those vacillating feelings I have for my dog Floyd, and even my children. There are times when I love Floyd down to his rancid paws, and some when I want to drag him by his tail, out the back door. (But I don’t. I just huff and curse.) The same goes for my kids, I love them so much I could eat them in a stew, but sometimes they hang on my last strand of nerves, and I want to put a “free stuff” sign in the yard advertising “two kids.” When my children were younger, and if caught at the right moment, (Like after my two-year-old had a tantrum kicking the shine off the back of my seat, and throwing a Sippy-cup at my head, while the other one screamed, “Mommmy, I peed in my car-seat and I have to pooh-pooh.) Whenever someone would say, “Oh, they’re so cute!” I’d say, “Oh thanks, do you want them?” That’s me, dry and provocative. Usually the said woman would look startled and blush out a nervous laugh. I of course thought it was hysterical, and even more so since I roused someone. (I guess my humor is a hybrid of my dad’s wit and my mother’s shock value.)
I have a weapon’s of mass destruction tongue (Thanks mom.) but luckily, a gentle, and yielding heart as well, and lately here I’ve been working on making a party mix of the two instead of serving them separately. I knew I had to regain my composure before I left the padded walls of the bathroom. I didn’t want to hurt Susan’s feelings but I was so angry. Tasha is her baby; she rescued her from cruel conditions. Before she adopted her Tasha had been living with a piece of crap man that shot her with a BB gun, (One of the Bb’s is still under her skin.) He also kicked Tasha’s mother to death in front of her and would religiously hoof and beat her as well. She was malnourished and lived in a yard kennel before she was rescued. Susan said, “When I first brought her home, she would sleep standing up in the corner. She was always ready to run.” During the day, Susan said she stayed under the bed and wouldn’t come out. She was terrified and Susan nursed her back to a trusting place. In that moment, I knew all of this, but I couldn’t get over my opinion, “A dog is an animal, not a human. It’s not a real child.”
I talked to Susan from orange when I probably should’ve spoken from yellow. I wasn’t very empathetic or patient with my delivery as I went off on my diatribe of, “She is a dog. She is not above me. She needs to be treated like an animal, not a person. I can’t take it anymore; she’s driving me insane.” I shifted my body as my arms crossed. “You don’t discipline her and she’s totally neurotic and nervous. She’s co-dependant and anxious.” I searched her. I wanted her to understand me but all she felt were my judgments. Her shoulders slacked and her normally strong frame seemed fragile. “This isn’t about Tasha. It’s about me.” I ran with it, feeding my ego, “Dog’s are only as good as their owner’s.” I wasn’t trying to hurt her but I saw it on her face.
She explained to me that Tasha really was like a child to her, and although I heard it, I didn’t really understand. “I grumbled to myself, “Lesbians and their dogs.” She said, “I saved her, and worked so hard to get her this far. I have her and she has me.” Something clicked. I sank. I knew she felt needed by her, and I recognized that feeling. As a mother, my children too need me and there’s something very gratifying about taking care of someone or something. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I get it, I respect your relationship with her, but it’s hard for me to understand sometimes. I know you don’t know what it’s like to have kids and you’re always patient with us. I can’t imagine what that’s like for you, I mean I get jealous of your dog.” I felt like a jerk for berating her.
Over the next few days we worked out a few compromises that suited us both. I had to work on accepting my jealousy over her dog, and moved towards a grateful, instead of victim, place. It didn’t feel good to upset her about something she loves so much. I can’t imagine her doing that to me in regards to my kids. She did however agree to put some new training measures in place for Tasha, which seem to be helping everyone.
Things cooled down for a few days until my issues flared up, I got my feelings hurt, and boom-there she went. To be continued.