You Eat One Silly Shoe…

You steal one modest sandwich off the counter – ONE! – and the people you live with typecast you as a dog that snatches food off the counter.

You eat one silly shoe – ONE! (plus maybe a flip-flop) – and you’re typecast as a dog not to be trusted with footwear.

The other day, the little golden retriever scarfed down two hoagie buns so quickly it looked like a special effect.

As with most goldens, Penny’s heart has evolved much quicker than her mind. And she thinks with her stomach. Basically, it’s like reasoning with a chunk of cheese.

As I scolded her, Penny Laine stared blankly at me. Then full-body burped.

It was this atomic burp that got to me more than anything, the complete lack of respect.

“Smash the patriarchy!” Smartacus said, goading me.

My son then pointed out the slow learning curve involved in these domestic incidents.

“When will you learn?” he asked me.

OK, here’s what I’ve learned: Never volunteer for anything. Anything! There will be enough obligation, enough responsibility in your life, that you don’t need the extra credit.

Yet, we are the kind of family that steps up to do unnecessary stuff. Like puppy-sitting this beautiful almond-eyed retriever for the week, while my daughter and her fam are off in Delaware.

Honestly, if anyone should be on the Delaware shore whacking crab claws with a big mallet, butter down the chin, it’s me.

I’m a fool for volunteering. For instance, over the years I’ve taken 347 people to LAX.

“Sure, I’ll run you to LAX. I’d like that,” I lie.

In Los Angeles, dropping someone at LAX is considered first base – an act of love and devotion. Beware: It probably means the driver is smitten with you on some level, monetarily or emotionally.

“Man is the only creature that breeds in all four seasons,” Voltaire once noted.

Exactly, dude.

When I love, I love too much. I love fire boats and telethons and knee socks.

I love singers whose voices quaver too much.  I love cream cheese in my scrambled eggs.

I love martinis cold as a countess’ heart and anything having to do with pumpkins.

I love marching bands.

You know when you’re in London, and you gaze out at the Thames’ hourglass curves…all the bridges and the brick and the grandeur? That’s exactly how I feel when I see the Purdue marching band’s ginormous bass drum.

When they ka-BOOM the drum, you can feel it in your aortas.

Know what else I lust-love? When fresh limes spritz you in the eye when you squeeze them into your tonic and gin.

I once went through an entire date with one eye closed from lime juice. Suzanne thought I was winking at her. She kept winking back.

Not long after that, I dropped her off at LAX.

Obviously, I’m sort of the George Costanza of the suburbs. In truth, the suburbs are full of guys like us — undersized men with tweed skin and receding hairlines, gazing up at the sky, crying: “Why me, God? Why me?”

It’s usually while you’re refereeing some AYSO game — being cussed at in 17 different languages.

I really should publish a user’s guide to the American suburbs.

Rule No. 1: Never race through a nice cup of coffee.

Rule No. 2: Never race through a nice vase of gin.

Rule No. 3: Hire a gardener, they’re cheap.

Rule No. 4: Never volunteer.

Rule No. 5 Avoid fund-raisers as you would fat, rabid raccoons.

Rule No. 6: Don’t goose anyone, especially your wife.

Rule No. 7: Don’t lend out your tools.

Rule No. 8: Don’t even buy tools.

Rule No 9: Never leave the house, the kids will probably burn it down.

Rule No 10: Never puppy-sit your daughter’s dog.

That’s it, really. Ten rules for surviving the ‘burbs, which can be a purgatory, or they can be your happy place, it’s all up to you.

Me, I have a giggling teenage crush on the suburbs. I was raised in one; I raised four kids and six dogs in one. If termites don’t collapse the house, I’ll probably die in one.

More than anything, I like suburbs on those twice-a-year giant trash pickups, when neighbors throw out perfectly good items they no longer need. The other day, I found a vintage ship throttle just lying at the curb. I tossed it in my trunk.

Look at that big happy-face dial. It’s a metaphor for the suburbs. Slow. Stand By. Stop. Full astern.

Just wait till I hook it up to the shower.

Save the Date! We’re counting down to the next wedding. Stay tuned for reports starting next week and running through the rest of the year. We’ll sprinkle in a road trip and other late-summer adventures along the way. And we’ll report in on Chicago and the red-hot Cubs. And review that landmark Dog N Suds up on Route 12. And Lake Geneva and Mackinac Island, in our Lake Michigan mazel tov. Hope you’ll come along.

10 thoughts on “You Eat One Silly Shoe…

  1. Love your ten commandments for successful suburban living. Smiles abound in this post. Thanks. Cannot wait for more great pics and stories of road trip adventures and a fabulous wedding for Rapunzel!

  2. Thank you for these reminders that life can be as interesting and full and confusing as you allow. Get out of the ‘my way or the highway’ echo chambers or not….

  3. One time, after struggling through the usual traffic and measured mayhem to drop a friend at LAX, we finally pulled up and stopped at the drop-off curb, whereupon she sat there frozen as if in a stupor, and then finally blurted out; “Burbank” ! ! ooooh yea !

  4. Love the post, love all of them! But one item caught my eye: You know a cheap gardener? Please send him my way!

  5. Woo hoo! You have an August to remember coming up! Can’t wait to hear about it! Lake Michigan, Dog N Suds, Lake Geneva, the Cubs and best of all…Rapunzel’s wedding! Viva Chicago!

  6. It is clear that the little girl holding out that ice cream cone has the best grip on summer at this point, when things are beginning to melt down. And it’s for certain that nautical gauge you scored would be just right for gauging the season, as we are near All Ahead Stop on its scale of water-born wonders. The rising humidity makes things seem so nautical as we approach mid-August. The dog with the Beatle’s surname was just expressing a fluidic Summer lassitude when she casually inhaled an available biscuit. Just to be fair, our morals tend to melt a little, too, in the face of the relentless Summer heat. though a biscuit hardly represents a moral meltdown, like ice cream does. It’s more like a condition precedent to an afternoon tea, as in “Tea and Scones” Did you check her water dish for some diminished level, as motivational evidence? Ahhh Summer. Drip, drip, drip….

  7. A final thought: High tea can include finger sandwiches. A dog, being lower to the ground, would probably be in for low tea, but who knows where, in summer, the heat of ambition might lead you?

  8. Great stuff as always, Chris. Circle back to the Brat Stop on the way into Lake Geneva. I’m sure you have been there, and they are the best.

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