The day I made reservations at Le Sofitel, I had no idea I would be making them in a foreign language.
When she answered the telephone I was caught off guard. But not a problem. I did study French in high school after all. And since graduating nearly a hundred years ago, I’ve even made up some of my own words.
So after the madame rattled on about, I have ‘non’ idea what she was rattling on about, I managed to hang up the phone with a confirmation number.
The hotel was located in Rosemont Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and my sister Louisa and I were heading there for a weekend, to help my son Rene with a video game tournament.
And or, also, to P-A-R-T-Y.
Now, unless you already know me, you don’t know about my driving skills.
So it was a big deal that I was driving the two of us to Chicago. Okay, Rosemont.
We took off in a hurry that Friday after work and just as we departed it began to sprinkle. Soon I was clenching the wheel because it was pouring.
Along the way we did our usual sister shit, talking about … I don’t know, just stuff sisters talk about.
And then the wind picked up and then sheets of rain were coming at us sideways.
And then, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, a toll booth popped up out of nowhere through the rapidly slapping windshield wipers.
“Millie, get in the right lane,” screamed Louisa.
“I can’t,” I screamed back.
Louisa is amazing. She can drive anything, a car, a golf cart a go cart, a minivan, a truck, a bus or a boat. If it has a motor she can drive it. Even if it has a clutch, she can drive it. But Louisa wasn’t driving now, was she?
So, we blew right through the toll booth in the I-Pass lane.
I have no sense of direction.
As in none.
So, it was not a surprise to me when I heard snickers while navigating my way out of a maze, just after a chair massage, which had taken place in an upstairs office. It was behind some offices and then I had to take a right, or perhaps it had been a left.
I’ve always been leery of massages. I don’t like awkward.
But, I’ve been sitting in front of a computer day after day, year after year, for years and it seems in the last decade that I have begun to turn into stone.
So sometimes for the greater good I just have to get past myself and let a little bit of awkward into my life.
That is why about five years ago I accepted a gift of a massage.
“You’re going to love it,” she said.
I was all butterflies on my way to the appointment, but the thought of somebody kneading my aching shoulders for ten solid minutes with no strings attached, got me to it.
My instincts had been right. It was awkward. But once we got past the introductions and I was all situated in the chair, things did start to improve for awhile.
At first it felt beyond words wonderful. But then the guy’s hands went below my shoulders and they were nearing my ribs. I am so freaking ticklish. Alarms started going off. All my brother used to do have to do was point to my side and I would run out of the room screaming. If I were holding a baby in my arms and someone poked me in the ribs that baby would go flying.
Panic set in. I didn’t know what to do. Do people laugh during massages? I mean, what exactly is massage etiquette?
Training your dog, Mille & Sven style.
HOW TO STOP THE BEGGING
Give him whatever he wants, before he has a chance to ask.
The best way to keep your dog from begging is to give him food before he has time to beg. Hunter always helps with meal preparations. This way he is busy digesting while I eat my dinner. When I am finished with my plate, I will add another scoop, set it on the floor next to his dish and kiss his snout to signal permission. Then he licks my plate clean, which is perfect because his next duty is kitchen clean up. This daily chore along with guarding the house from sounds that only he can hear, (See: HOW TO STOP THE BARKING) are the way he earns his keep. It also makes him feel useful. A high sense of self esteem also prevents unnecessary begging.
Sven has a different but also very effective approach to the, keep your dog from begging, rule. He completely ignores Hunter, even as he licks his own plate clean right in front of those big sad eyes. But, between each trip that Sven takes to the oven for seconds and on occasion, thirds, there are plenty of food particles to be found on the floor next to where Sven’s feet had been planted. Hunter dutifully cleans this up.
WHEN TO WALK YOUR DOG
Whenever he wants to.
This is quite simple really. It’s just plain old common sense. For instance, when I get out of bed I take him for a walk. Or when I come home from work, or from shopping, or from a party, or from skiing, or from Jamaica, or from having oral surgery with a frozen mouth and a bag full of drugs (like right now). This would be the time to take my dog for a walk. It doesn’t matter if the temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a perfect seventy-five degrees or 42 degrees below zero. What I am trying to say, without using a cliché, is, come hell or high water, whenever I walk in the door, Hunter and I must go for a walk. Because he wants to.
When I am sitting at my computer and trying to accomplish something, like right now and I hear the tapping of his overgrown nails (because he doesn’t care to have them trimmed) making their way toward me, like right this second, and he rests his head on my lap, as in this moment, I have received the seven minute warning. Dog minutes are just as screwed up as dog years. To a dog, seven minutes is really one. And one minute is really seven seconds. My advice at this point would be, heed the seven minute warning. If not, very loud barking will ensue.
Excuse me. I’ll be back in about a half an hour.
Sven on the other hand takes a completely different approach, as usual. To him it’s all about a pooping schedule. He also likes to take Hunter outside when the moon is full and the rest of the world is curled up in bed or snuggled under a blanket, watching a late night movie. He does this to make sure that Hunter understands that all hours are open for walking, day and or night.
EARLY MORNING BOWEL MOVEMENTS
Not for Millie & Sven.
There is one time of the day that no one in our house goes for a ‘walk’, except Hunter, that is. It is the quiet time just before the sun is up, between five and six, depending on the season. The coyotes have finished their yipping and the other wild critters are still sleeping. The neighbors and their dogs across the highway are inside and silent. The dump hasn’t yet opened and the gun club hasn’t started shooting up the place. The world is still.
Neither Sven nor I are willing to drag our asses out of bed to walk like zombies behind some idiot with a tail who sniffs God knows what until finally deciding to circle around and around and around just to take a dump. We prefer to complete our REM sleep. They say this sleep is important and we are very health conscious. So, Hunter is on his own for his early morning shit. One of us, the worst actor of the morning who pretended to be sleeping a little worse than the other guy, simply snaps his collar (the one with his phone number) around his neck, opens the door and wishes him luck.
They use to call my Dad Lucky and I still wear his old bowling shirt with his nickname embroidered across the pocket.
It was a spring afternoon and I was sitting at my desk reading an email that came with a trail that was a mile long. It originated in the shipping department, had made a full circle around the world, then it went back to the shipping department again, and then it came back to me. I was just about to forward the message I’d initially typed, “The wood samples from Mexico have not passed inspection and until they do, I will not sign my John Henry,” when my phone rang. It was Angel in Human Resources. She said she needed me to come to her office right then.
Angel was the girl with the long dark hair and big brown eyes. She was twenty-five and her ample cleavage made up for any shortcomings she may have possessed. I was old enough to be her father. But I wasn’t.
“Ouch. Jeez. What the?”
These were the words that came out of Marty’s mouth after Marguerite punched him in stomach at the crowded Musky Bar in downtown Hayward, Wisconsin.
The spiders sat with fine hairy legs splayed in all directions. Some hung in the web. A few were sprawled on the floor, and two juveniles’ long legs stuck to the drywall. They were hypnotized by the sight of the long legged ancient story teller, nearly two weeks old, about to speak. It was New Years Day and they were in the loft of a big house located in the heart of the Midwest.
“Betty found a way to remove that ugly stain from my carpet,” Giselle said one day. “Betty is a pretty good athlete,“ she said the next time I saw her. After that it was, “Betty has a daughter.” “Betty, Betty, Betty.” Yet I never met this Betty person.
An acorn, hanging by a thread, let loose and fell swiftly to the ground, where it bounced off the dried oak leaves left over from spring. It hit a rusty rim, and rolled to a stop.
At the same time, at the local gas station with the green and yellow sign, a striking woman of thirty years, with fire red hair, signed a form and paid a fee, walked across the street, and ordered a tap beer.