Dogged: Why This Past Year Felt Like Seven

Adorable photo taken by the dog trainer/boarder just before Millie was kicked out.

As a die-hard cat person, I was surprised and confused to find myself adopting a dog. Not just any dog, mind you: an adult rescue dog with junkyard genes and a sordid past. How did this happen? Granted, there had been ten years of ceaseless begging, topped off with a couple of family crises, a PowerPoint presentation by household teens, and a stream of seemingly sincere promises to love, walk, and care for said canine.

All lies.

But somehow Millie and I have successfully co-existed for an entire calendar year. Proof: we are both still alive. Millie still rolls in dirt and dead things. She still scares the bejeezus out of the UPS guy. She’s been kicked out of dog parks and behavior classes and boarding. Though we’ve made a little progress, I don’t have any successful training tips to share. All I can offer is a little help navigating expectations during the first year of adoption.

What follows is a sneak peek from my upcoming imaginary book: Why This Past Year Felt Like Seven.

Chapter One: The Honeymoon

What a pleasure to be greeted at the door with tail wags instead of the eye rolls and requests for money to which I’ve grown accustomed. For forty-eight hours straight, I was promoted from uber-driving ATM into a beloved human comrade.

Chapter Two: Grieving the Dog You Thought You Had

Rescue dogs know just how to act in order to get adopted. Then—once you and your progeny are completely besotted—many, many other facets of the dog’s vivid personality become apparent. Diarrhea, destruction, and unexplained maniacal barking ensue.

Chapter Three: The Mighty, Mighty Prey Drive

Bad news. Prey drive is a thing. The first time the new pet met the incumbent, the cat’s hindquarters wound up in the dog’s jaws in three second flat. Millie would not, could not let go. Our beleaguered Elsie endures, but she is quarantined in the basement for eternity. If and when the two beasts catch sight of each other in the yard, I end up on a rickety ladder, begging and lurching precariously in the treetops for the neighbors’ entertainment.

Elsie, recalling the Golden Age of the Felinarchy—when the world revolved around her needs.

Chapter Four: When and Where to Walk Your Barmy Dog

Short answer: at night, wherever mortals fear to tread. The good news is, those lurky back alleys don’t seem so intimidating when you’re walking Cujo. To prevent shoulder dislocation, keep constant vigilance for the following: brooms, hoodies, hats, men, garage doors, shadows, ominous-looking recycling bins, and the existence of all other mammals. Be especially wary of the quadruple threat: mammals wearing hoodies while sweeping the garage. Helpful tools: two fingers of scotch for post-walk therapy.

Chapter Five: Predatory Drift, or Why Your Dog Should Never, Ever Play with Snack-Sized Dogs Named Doris

Doris lived—and nobody sued—but our dog’s name and photo were shared amongst dog walkers and owners. Millie was a community pariah for the majority of the past year.

Me too, for that matter.

Chapter Six: Welcome to the World.

Having a dog like Millie means getting to know the city from new perspectives. Where are the best places to find poop and gophers? What’s under those dumpsters behind the grocery store? Do squirrels scream? (Yes. Yes, they do.) Bonus! Get up close and personal with raccoons, skunks, a dead seal, half a rabbit. It’s like living on the friggin’ nature channel.

Image of dog playing at the beach.
Be grateful I chose this photo, and not one of the large severed head Millie tried to drag home that day.

Surprise upside: Since I can’t sip lattes and tootle around the neighborhood like a normal dog owner, my hiking boots are in heavy rotation. During the past twelve months, I’ve walked well over 1,200 miles in some of the most beautiful places in the Bay Area: parks, woods, canyons, beaches.

Plus dark alleys. Don’t forget dark alleys.

Chapter Seven: Sleep, or The Lack Thereof.

The plan was to crate the dog at night. I won’t bore you with the details surrounding the rapid demise of my principles. Suffice it to say that after a number of unforeseen circumstances, Millie wound up crying outside our bedroom door until I caved in.

Someone got a great night’s sleep, but it wasn’t me.

Now imagine sleeping with a fifty-five-pound starfish who hogs the covers and insists on pushing against a human in all five directions.

On the bright side, unlike the majority of household residents, Millie is a morning creature. The moment I open my eyes, her tail starts thumping against that pillow she stole out from under my head. Such behavior stands in marked contrast to customary morning greetings from household teens.

Chapter Eight: Dances with Coyotes

Guess who wins? On her first run-in, Millie got a bite on the ass and—despite my attempts to convince her otherwise—went back for seconds. Since then, I’ve lost count of our coyote encounters, but luckily only the first rendezvous required a trip to the vet. Side note: it doesn’t hurt to carry bits of steak in your pocket and clear the waiting room of all mammals—especially those who look litigious.

Chapter Nine: Hot Spots: Dogs Who Self-Harm

That’s right. Crazy dogs can fixate on all sorts of behaviors: not only lunging, barking, and digging, but also fussing, licking, and nibbling on themselves until they need medical attention. Whoops. Should have hung onto that cone after the coyote wounds healed.

Chapter Ten: Less is More.

Besides your cat, your time, and your bed, you may need to give up your social life in order to accommodate a rescue dog’s special needs. We learned the hard way—after Millie cornered a thirteen-year-old boy, bit a hole in a man’s shorts, and caused multiple guests to flee through the basement window. We’re slow learners, I guess. Apologies if you visited before we knew better.

Chapter Eleven: Those Oddly Charming Behaviors May Indicate Medical Issues

It seems obvious now, but dogs don’t usually combat crawl around the house. And yes, they can get poison oak. Which reminds me…

Chapter Twelve: Advanced Lessons in Poison Oak: Swabbing Your Weeping Rash While Driving, Sleeping, and Cooking

Once Millie moved in, I started sporting a little poison oak at all times. Since we’re constantly out in nature, I suppose that’s no big surprise, and usually a little Tecnu does the trick. But recently I got a doozy of a rash that swelled and oozed through mountains of laundry. This rash required medical attention as well as some interesting fashion decisions. For the home office, I wore hoodies sideways, with the “bad” arm—i.e., the one swollen to thigh-size—zipped out the neck hole. If I had to leave the house, I wrapped my arm in a towel with binder clips, and brought spare towels to swap out when the previous one was soaked through. My advice: get whatever pharmaceuticals your doctor is willing to prescribe.

Epilogue. Why She Still Lives with Us

Excellent question. With all of the crazed barking, I’m having trouble formulating a coherent answer. Still, there are a few benefits of having a dog that come to my muddled mind.

  • For starters, no one could possibly break into our house and survive.
  • I’ve gotten to the beaches, trails, and forests more in the past year than in the past twenty combined.
  • The cat is a lot more sociable now that she is half neglected.
  • Even on the 366th day, a Millie greeting is pretty spectacular. It’s like getting a standing ovation every time I come in the door.

Besides, it’s hard to hold a grudge when she is just sitting there looking adorable.

Or playing with a squeaky toy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Don’t feed the behemoth twice.

fat elsie

I’ve had cats for most of my life–all short-haired, lithe creatures with dignity and self-control. I scoffed at other, substandard cats: the ones who binged and barfed, destroyed the furniture, and peed in the corner.

Then came Elsie.

At first she played endless games of fetch and slept on my neck like a tiny scarf. Such charm! Such genius! Once again, I felt pretty smug. Elsie had long hair, which which she deposited generously, and she developed odd habits that made me question her IQ–why would a black cat sleep on the floor right beside my bed, even after being stepped on thirty or forty nights in a row? I’m half-blind with a miniature bladder, and she’s nearly invisible in the dark. Think, cat, think! But then she’d bring her toys and purr in my ear, and all doubt would subside.

Now that her fetch days are over, however, I struggle to entice her with catnip mice, yarn, or even the laser pointer–a toy supposedly irresistible to our feline friends. If I’m lucky, Elsie will drag herself half a yard across the living room rug before flopping in a heap. She still sprawls on my head at night, though, kneading and purring, while dumping her ass-end on the spouse’s pillow. This explains his difficulty sleeping and my recent trips to the chiropractor.

“When did you trade your adorable cat for a giant mop?” a friend asked. A reasonable question, but I don’t really know. It must have happened infinitesimally slowly, in the midst of the chaos and clutter of daily life. We did nothing different with this one: topping up the kibble, checking the litter, letting her in and out ad nauseum. Isn’t that all you need to do with cats?

Recently, I woke in terror as an intruder ascended the stairs. “Calm down,” my bleary-eyed spouse advised. “I set the alarm; no one’s in the house.” Unconvinced, I went to investigate, but all I could find in the shaky circle of my flashlight was my beloved fur turkey. What was happening here? It took half an hour to get my heart rate down and admit that my cat made the stairs creak. Considering Carl Sandburg’s poetic line: “the fog comes on little cat feet,” it was time to do something about my corpulent pal. As a Bay Area resident, I’ve seen the fog roll in a bazillion times, and it never makes a ruckus.

Since Elsie’s unable to reach around her belly to groom herself properly, she has also developed a case of back dandruff and a small mat near her tail. I’ve tried to help. I now own a variety of supposedly life-changing tools—all with names like “The Furminator” and “The Unhairing”–but the only brushing Elsie will tolerate without retribution is on her cheeks. This doesn’t solve any of her developing issues, but man, oh man, are her sideburns soft and sleek.

As her mat grew and multiplied, I began to consider professional grooming services, which felt like some sort of personal failure. After all, I cut my kids’ hair—always have—and only recently graduated from Supercuts myself. How could I drop that kind of cash on a cat, especially since they’re supposed to groom themselves?

To make matters worse, the cat carrier scares the crap out of Elsie. Literally. Ever tried to remove diarrhea from the long fur of a pissy cat? I wasn’t about to shell out for a kitty day spa, only to arrive home with a fecal-crusted ball of claws. Not only did I need a groomer, then, I needed one to magically appear at my doorstep. Too ashamed to ask for recommendations, I rooted around on Yelp.

Apparently magic entails a lot of paperwork. After filling out four pages of disclaimers and waivers–basically assuring the legal team that I would pay for every scratch and tear my pet might inflict–I started to panic. Elsie’s not a fan of strangers, or being held, or grooming, or anything besides eating and hopping on my head in the middle of the night. But what choice did I have? So I continued. I answered all sorts of logistical questions and personal queries and checked a litany of boxes: dry shampoo, thank you very much. I’ve seen what a terror my cat is when she gets wet. Yes, yes. A thorough brushing. Nail clipping. Booty buzz. Extra fees for mats. Dang. This was adding up like a weekend in Napa.

Nine days later, help arrived in what looked like a Frito-Lay truck. Let’s call her Agatha. Agatha was friendly and fierce, with big, brawny arms. Immediately at ease, I handed Elsie over. “Please remove your cat’s claws from my flesh,” Agatha said calmly. She was so calm, in fact, that I thought I had misheard. Next, we reenacted an episode of the Three Stooges before prying my pal off because–let’s face it–Elsie has four paws, and I’ve only got two hands. She proceeded to glue herself to the exam table like a starfish. “Ah,” said Agatha. “The pancake defense.”

Agatha took this moment of paralysis to lecture extensively about reading food labels and calculating the proper caloric content for a cat of this stature. “Even an extra ¼ cup of kibble a day could have caused this,” she said sternly, pointing to Elsie’s swollen torso. She introduced me to the concept of “puzzle feeders,” devices designed to make my cat exercise in order to get her food, and gave me a pep talk about pet health and happiness. She advised me to start setting aside $2,000 for a deep dental cleaning when Elsie turns 10.

Swell.

Then she went to work. Agatha was not a pushover like me; she gave Elsie a brushing to remember. “I call it ‘making kittens,” Agatha explained, “because there’s a ball of fur big enough to make another cat.” This was no exaggeration. “Look at all that fur you won’t have to eat today,” she said to an aggrieved Elsie, as the hairy mountain continued to grow. She brushed with the fur and against it. She hauled the cat up and brushed her belly, her legs, her tail, her hindquarters. “You need to check her lady parts frequently for foxtails,” she advised.

I’m pretty sure I’ll repress that advice—just like the vet’s recommendation to brush my cat’s teeth.

Agatha clipped claws, removed all mats, and shaved the butt of my yowling cat, even managing to fasten a purple bow-tie around her neck. Elsie looked great—maybe even a few pounds lighter—but she was mad as hell.

I tipped Agatha extremely well. I couldn’t have made kittens without losing a limb.

These days I’m brushing Elsie more regularly–on more than just the cheeks–as well as feeding her more conscientiously. She’s still quite large, but I’m not worried. I’ve got Agatha’s number, so help is just a paycheck away.

Elsie dish sm
We don’t want to accidentally feed the behemoth twice.

My cat is the reincarnation of Chuck Berry.

I heard Chuck Berry is actually still alive somewhere, but I don’t think that interferes with what follows.

For those who are unaware, Mr. Berry is also known as “Johnny B. Bad.”  I’m sure Google could enlighten you regarding the scandals which surround him.  Please proceed with caution, though.  I am already feeling a wee bit apologetic for what I am about to divulge.

****************************************************************

Elsie found me at the SPCA.  The minute I walked into her room, she shimmied up me, licked my cheek, and unzipped my fleece with her teeth.  It was unsettling but charming, and I didn’t say no.

As I was filling out the adoption paperwork, a volunteer went to pack her up.  He returned 20 minutes later, wild-eyed and disheveled, and shoved the cardboard carrier at me. “Whatever you do,” he said breathlessly, “DO NOT OPEN THE BOX UNTIL YOU GET HOME.”

In hindsight, we should have tossed her in the trunk, but I foolishly sat with the carrier on my lap the whole way home.  Elsie promptly destroyed my favorite sweater by clawing at me through the air holes, and sensing her anxiety, I tried to yelp as soothingly as possible.  Next she pressed her face into the side of the box with such force she made a hole.  Rather than let her escape, I pressed the carrier against me while she eviscerated my torso.  Frankly, I was afraid she would jump the driver and we would all die.

Now settled, Elsie likes to leap out of nowhere to attack innocent children.  She steals stuffed animals and rips their eyes out.  She has taken over the loveseat, and will defend it by any means necessary.  Do not even lean against that thing.  She swipes bacon and roast chicken off my plate if my attention wanders for even a nanosecond.  She perches on my shoulder when I sit down at the computer.  If I don’t start fawning immediately, she digs her front claws into whatever bare flesh she can find and dangles her rear down until it hits the keyboard and ruins something important.

When my children have playdates, it is not uncommon for the visitors to express terror and frustration.  “Can you please move your cat?”  tiny voices ask me.  “She is staring at me in a scary way.”  I totally understand.

Still, she has a number of more endearing qualities.  She quacks, for example, which is entertaining.  She plays fetch.  She sleeps curled around my neck like a scarf.  She cleans my eyebrows, kneads my neck, purrs in my ear.  And, she loooooves me.  She follows me about the house, outside, even down to the corner, and holds a vigil for me when I go beyond that.  When I drive up, she runs out into the middle of the street and lies down in oncoming traffic.  She REFUSES TO MOVE, too, until I also walk into traffic and scratch her belly.  So far, drivers have thankfully noticed and stopped in the nick of time, but they stare at the black fuzzy blob blocking their way.  ‘Is that your cat?’ they ask, staring incredulously.  Not really.  I’m her person.

Elsie was the temporary name assigned by the shelter, and we tried hard to rename her. Nothing stuck.  She does have quite a few nicknames, however, including “Buttwig.”  Here’s where the ghost of Chuck Berry emerges.

When everyone is away or asleep, I generally do not close the bathroom door.  I think ventilation can be your friend in there, and the bathroom window is essentially broken.  In the event of an emergency, I could probably pry it open, but I would need a good 10 minutes to wrestle the thing shut before the hinges give out completely and I behead one of the neighbors.  I’ve heard they frown on that sort of thing.

Trouble is, now that Elsie has moved in, she likes to hang out wherever I am–especially in the bathroom.  Specifically, she likes to squeeze behind me on the seat and settle in. Buttwig.  She licks my buttocks.  Gross.

If I forget and complain about it, my spouse will suggest gallantly: “why don’t you just close the f*cking door?”  That makes sense, of course, except that’s the sort of thing I would need to remember to do BEFORE I sit down.  Also, it’s difficult to pry her off once she’s settled.  Have you ever tried to pick up a clawed creature from behind your back?

I now have to flush before I stand up, too, or that cat will try and climb into the soiled toilet.  What is that about?

I also tend to leave the door open when I shower to help with condensation issues (c.f. broken window).  Elsie will hop on the side of the tub and stare at me with a spooky intensity that makes me blush.  If she leaves, it is only to go and take a dump outside the door, so we can both marvel at the deadly aroma emitted by kitten poo.  The she will return to befoul my fluffy white towel and stare at me some more.

Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for her odd behavior, but I can’t think what it might be.

The bizarre thing is that when I occasionally lock her in the basement or outside for the night–usually by accident–I find I miss that crazy cat.  Where is my scarf, I wonder.

A neighbor saw me today, wrestling gigantic things out of the trunk.  He offered to help, for which I was very grateful.  As we lugged boxes into the house he noticed Elsie.  “Um.”  Long pause.  “Is that YOUR cat?” he finally asked.  I was a little embarrassed to say yes.  “She seems very sweet,” he said, “but completely crazy.”  Agreed.

Regarding Slasher and his sad demise (part II)

Over the years, my feisty cat Slasher slowed significantly, for which my five-year-old daughter was particularly grateful.  They had spent her first four and a half years as sworn enemies, but now, too old to hunt or even make it to the top bunk, he stayed in and spent the whole night on Josie’s bed. Sometimes, the whole day as well.  Those two were suddenly inseparable.

By late February, we knew we had an old, ailing cat, but we didn’t realize he was dying, so we headed to paradise for a family vacation. By the second night away, the catsitter was calling.  Slasher wasn’t getting up much at all anymore.  She brought his water dish onto Josie’s bed and called me to express concern.  I spent the next few days anxiously touring volcanoes or pretending to relax on the beach…then hurrying back to the rental to phone the sitter and sob.  Poor Hannah.  This was not the first time a pet tried to kick the bucket on her watch.  She stopped by twice a day and called with updates.  Since he was 18 with few systems functioning properly, we all knew what was coming.  We just wanted him to hold on until we got there.

When we arrived home, sandy and bleary-eyed, it was four in the morning.  I saw immediately that he was skin and bones, lying in a pool of urine.  I stripped the bed and cleaned him up as best I could.  I tucked Josie in fresh sheets and made a pile of baby blankets beside her for Slasher.  In the morning, I tried to move him to a cozy, waterproof spot downstairs where I could comfort him and make vet calls at the same time, but when he collapsed trying to drag himself back to Josie’s bed, I relented.

The next couple of days are a sad, sad blur.  Crying while driving.  Crying in the grocery store.  Crying at NPR stories, at the funnies, and anytime someone asked, “how are you?”  Acknowledging his distaste for the vet, we had him put to sleep at home, while we held him and stroked him.  No one could get his eyes to close, though, so he continued to stare at me in his scrappy, crusty way.  For days.

In my house, it takes quite a while to prepare for an appropriate burial.  Photographs must be taken.  A coffin must be made…and decorated…and further embellished with sparkly items.  A grave marker is necessary, as is the name plaque.  This all takes time, as you can imagine.  Time when said dead pet remains lying around our house.  I noticed that this seemed to cause other parents some anxiety, so I started to tell them about the dead cat before the playdate, and reassure them about proper handwashing, et cetera.  That only made things worse.

Where are you keeping him?” one mother asked, completely perplexed.  As I was answering, I realized that letting your child sleep with a dead cat was a little unorthodox. Believe it or not, it didn’t feel anywhere near as creepy as that must sound.  He was swaddled in his favorite little blanket, in a shallow wooden box, with a couple of cat toys and a fairly peaceful expression.  Except for the staring, I mean.  Josie couldn’t sleep without him there, and Slasher wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else, so it just made sense at the time.  I knew it wasn’t a long-term plan.  I think Josie got a couple of nights with him after he was sealed in his coffin, as well, while we prepared for the burial, but then we had to transition her to a stuffed cat, and lots of extra bedtime stories.  “Who will bury me when I die?” she asked the night after we finally laid him to rest.  I couldn’t answer.

We still miss that guy like crazy, but there’s a new cat now.  Elsie plays fetch and sleeps on my head.  She squawks and perches on my shoulder and often does that Halloween cat pose with fur on end and back humped into the air. She’s worming her way into my heart, too, but there’s no telling if she’ll schmooze and head to the bars like her predecessor.  Just got her outdoor shots and her tags, though, so we’ll know soon enough.

Regarding Slasher

I once begged a ride home from Death Valley and the guy driving kept asking: “Wait. Where do you live? Which cross street? Where on that block? Which side of the street?” Since we were still about ten hours from the city, I started getting a little nervous. Finally he said, “Then YOU must know that cat Slasher.” ”Well, yeah,” I said, surprised. ”He’s my cat.” Ed had to pull over and call his wife. ”You’ll NEVER BELIEVE this!” he yelled into his phone. ”I JUST MET SLASHER’S OWNER!”

You may think I am exaggerating, but it was not uncommon for complete strangers to greet my cat by name as we passed by, while ignoring me altogether.  That furry guy knew everyone.  He hung out in folks’ garages while they tinkered, and lolled on their stoops on sunny afternoons.  He knew where to go for tuna and extra love, and I tried not to get too jealous when I saw him coming out of other houses.  He was quite a gentleman, after all, taking me on walks, spending time with the elderly, and escorting one woman home from public transport every evening. He was even mentioned in the student guidebook for the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine:  ”Absolutely no pets allowed, except guide dogs and Slasher.” Meanwhile, we got phone calls from bars and restaurants that he frequented, often late at night.  ”Do you have a cat named Slasher?” they would ask.  “That depends,” my husband would say.  ”What’s his tab?”

Not everyone loved him, though. As evidence, he was missing quite a bit of both ears. German Shepherds feared him. Dog walkers couldn’t stand him. And if you had a cat allergy, he made sure to bite your ankles and shed all over you.  Some lawyer actually threatened some vague sort of legal action, claiming that he had terrorized her and her dog and then followed them “in attack mode.” While I found that letter endlessly entertaining and hung it on the fridge, even I had to admit a healthy fear of him, fueled mostly by our frequent trips to the vet for his hyperthyroidism.  Have you ever tried to lovingly shove a ferocious beast into the side door of a cat carrier?  Slasher would get so worked up clawing my arm for half an hour that he never failed to excrete a giant, malodorous turd on the way to the vet.  I assume this was an expression of dismay regarding my disrespectful behavior.  Thank goodness I discovered a top-loading cat carrier before losing a limb.

Love or hate, you had to admit he was an exceptional cat, and until March 2, I had the honor of catering to his every need.

Here’s where the story gets sad and a bit demented.  In my defense, there is a lot of gray area in parenting, and sometimes it’s hard to decide which path will lead to a greater need for therapy.  Tune in tomorrow…

A few things I wish I’d learned the easy way (part one)

     You’re probably smart.  Well, you can read, anyway.  That’s something.  You probably listened to your mother, finished what you started, and paid your bills on time.  Or maybe you’re a dog owner.  The disciplined kind.  You kennel Fido at night so no one needs to worry about life and limb.  In that case, you may find the information below completely superfluous.  Feel free to add a few lessons of your own to the list for my benefit.  But for those of you who insist on learning things the hard way like me, I thought I would contribute my two cents over the next couple of days.  Perhaps it will save you some trouble.
     I’ll start with a simple one.
1.  Black cats are hard to see at night.
     Seems obvious, doesn’t it?  But it didn’t occur to me until after a number of very unfortunate incidents.  I bet my cat wishes I had figured this one out faster as well.  Maybe folks who are near-sighted should not be allowed to adopt black cats.  Still, it might behoove her to avoid lolling on the stairs or around the base of the toilet after dark.
     I would make a snide comment about Darwinism here except that she is often quite charming, and reasonably intelligent about other matters–like how to get the mouse cage off the top shelf, for example.
2.  Projecting self-confidence may have less to do with Dale Carnegie and more to do with proper carriage.  
     Despite years of ballet and constant admonishment from my mother, my terrible posture endures.  I naturally slump and slide my neck out like a chicken, and though it drives me crazy, I cannot seem to fix it. When I do actively focus on alignment it makes me sound and feel more confident, and it is amazing how people respond.  My theory is that this is the physical side of “acting as if.” (My apologies.  That phrase bugs the crap out of me, too.)
     What seemed to get good posture off the back burner was when my exasperated yoga teacher finally said:  “It’s not about pulling your shoulders down or back; it’s about leading with your sternum.”  And as I was trying to internalize her words, I realized that what she was suggesting actually feels like sticking your boobs out into the great unknown.  What’s more, it works.  Everything magically falls into place.  Seriously, if you have them, it’s worth a try.
     Unfortunately, I have also discovered some truth in “the bigger, the better,” and the first time I stood up straight and wore a wonderbra simultaneously, the response was a little frightening.  My jokes were funnier, my comments carried more weight.  Both men and women complimented me profusely and asked, “What’s different, though?  Did you change your hair?”  That was all a bit depressing, so I shelved that wiry contraption, but I guess it’s useful information to have in case of an emergency.
     Extra bonus of better posture:  fewer lectures from the cranky chiropractor.
     Downside:  It’s hard for me to concentrate on what I’m saying while working so hard to align the spine.  Now I look smarter, but sound insipid.  Oh, well.  See #3.
3.  Deep down we are all a bit shallow.
Now I should probably parent a little.  More tomorrow.