What’s that poem about how the world ends?
“The world ends / Not with a bang, but a whimper.”
Yeah. So too do fledgling relationships, apparently. Not with a bang, but definitely a whimper.
And some poo. Actually, lots and lots of poo.
OK, guys. I hate to say it, but I think we have our final segment of the Professor Cute Butt Chronicles.
Yes, this has to do with The Puppy. And, sure, with loafers, too. And yep, as I said, lots and lots of poo.
Fasten your seatbelts, folks, Imma take you for a ride. This is a story.
So yesterday was another date with The Professor and The Puppy. I suggested we start out at a park near me. When the Professor arrived and got out of his car with not only loafers and no socks but pants and a matching belt that can best be described as mauve, I told my inner voice (which was ROLLING HER EYES and saying, OH COME ON!!!) to just shut it and try not be so judgy.)
We proceed to set up Puppy camp in the grass.
Everyone and Their Mother oooo’d and aaaaa’d over The Puppy, because, of course, he is really dang adorable, doing Cute Puppy things like pouncing on a feather floating past his little puppy snout and doing a somersault and rolling down the hill with his little puppy smile.
Professor Cute Butt’s focus of course was on The Puppy, and on answering the same 4 questions that Everyone and Their Mother wanted to know the answers to:
- Oh my god, so cute! Can I pet your puppy!? (Sure! It’s good for his socialization!)
- Wow, he is seriously adorable. What breed? (Border collie. Doesn’t have the traditional markings of a border collie.)
- Aww, so sweet. How old is he? (About 11 weeks.)
- Wow! How long have you had him? (Almost 2 weeks.)
Repeat, 24 times, with this 5th, optional, question thrown in: “Do you guys live around here?”
‘Ah, they think you guys are together, as in together together,‘ my inner voice chimes in helpfully, as I slowly absorb that people think I could be the wife of someone who wears loafers with no socks and coordinated mauve belt and mauve skinny pants. (They were skinny pants, y’all.)
I stuff Ms. Judgypants Inner Voice deep down into my soul, and I play along with this whole picture and proceed to teach The Puppy how to fetch a stick and bring it back. He was SO excited about this new trick, as was The Professor. “Wow, this is great! This means less running around for me! I never thought to throw a stick!” (Insert the Hmm emoji here.) He puts the soccer ball back in his bag.
I toss Professor the stick, which he gamely throws. Puppy, ecstatic, returns the stick to me. I throw the stick back to Professor, motioning for Puppy to go to Professor. Puppy runs to me.
Repeat, 24 times.
During all this, Professor and I do not talk about anything Not-Puppy.
“Well,” I think, helpfully, “it’s understandable. We are at the park. We’ll talk more for real at dinner. I’m sure he too must want to talk about other stuff, and, you know, ponder life, the universe, and everything.”
But dinner is the park on repeat, just on a patio of a dog-friendly restaurant he’d found on a “dog friendly restaurants” list he’d googled and sent to me to choose from.
So we are sitting there, and still nothing Not-Puppy is said, asked, or done. I eat my fries, as Professor follows Puppy into a bush and says loudly in his Puppy-Training voice, “OK, POTTY, Puppy!” The Puppy, however, does not potty, but instead pounces on a stray plastic bag and romps back onto the patio to check out all the other patrons, many of whom are overjoyed to ask us their 4, sometimes 5, questions.
I am patient. It is a gorgeous summer night after all, and these fries are really good.
Check comes. I pay. (Professor is off unwinding Puppy’s leash from around the leg a nearby couple’s table.) We collect everything and return to the car. The Professor observes, “Great! He’s gotten plenty of socializing. He’ll be fast asleep in no time.”
We get to my street. The Professor says, hopefully, “I think the car ride put him to sleep – maybe we could try to have a non-Puppy conversation?” (I shoot Inner Voice a withering look, ‘See! He is aware of the Puppy Vortex this has become! There’s still hope!’)
Inner Voice just smiles knowingly.
So with Puppy asleep in his little mesh carrying case, we all three go inside, two of us knowing that this means Professor’s Puppy and My Kitty will have to meet.
“Let’s just see what happens, shrug emoji” I say (side note: I literally said “shrug emoji” – shrug emoji), as we enter the building that does not allow dogs.
Inner Voice cackles: ‘Yeah, what could possibly go wrong?!’
Upstairs, we enter my apartment, me first so I can find and hold my cat. She does not realize for a while there’s another animal inside – that is, until Puppy pops his little rambunctious head out of his little mesh carrying case.
I run and take kitty up into my arms and try to calm her down again. The Professor is apologizing, “I have no idea how he got his head out like that.” And then, sighing, “He’s definitely Not-Asleep now.”
Cradling kitty, I give Professor careful instructions as to where he can find kitty’s Temptations Treats. “She goes wild for those. I’ll try some ‘shaping’ behavior,” I tell him. He finally finds the bag and passes it to me. I put one treat down on the floor, kitty happily jumps from my arms to gobble it up, momentarily forgetting about The Puppy. I put another one down, and then another, and another, moving her in the general direction of Puppy, with me cooing the whole time, “You’re okay! You’re okay!” any time she looks up and sees him wriggling around in his case.
Kitty heads for the hills.
“OK, this isn’t working,” says Professor.
I agree, and try to helpfully suggest we let kitty have her space while the three of us go outside to the patio where there’s an outdoor area for Puppy.
I can see The Professor has been stressed by all this and just wants to make out, as if making out will be like shaking a magic erase board to erase the rest of the evening. I get the vibe Professor wants to prove to himself, to me, to “us” that we can still make this work. Even with… The Puppy.
He puts the carrying case down as soon as we get outside and, sure enough, comes over and kisses me. At which point, kitty pushes patio door open. (The patio door only closes securely when you lock it from the inside, otherwise it remains slightly ajar.)
I hop to, “Nope, nope! You stay in there!”
A neighbor’s light turns on above my place.
“OK, this isn’t working,” I say.
The Professor agrees.
I try to helpfully suggest he could use my cat’s long pink leash to let The Puppy roam around the common green area.
“Great idea!” he says and attaches Puppy to the long pink leash. Puppy is happy, pounces on a stray leaf. Kitty mews and pushes at the patio door again.
The Professor sighs, but then his face brightens. He suggests that he could kiss me while I have my back against the patio door to keep it closed and the kitty inside.
Inner Voice goes to grab some popcorn, sits back in her chair: “This is hysterical, you guys! Keep going, keep going! I can’t wait to see what’s next!”
I shoot Inner Voice a withering look.
Professor attempts to kiss me again. (I’m not really into it at this point.) Puppy barks. Phew, I think. We both turn just in time to see the Puppy poop (a long, loose poop) out toward the back of the common area.
Professor sighs heavily. Grabs a poop bag, “I better go get it now, while I know where it is, roughly.” He wanders off in his sockless loafers into the dark, poop bag in hand.
But it’s night now. We only saw Puppy had pooped because of a motion detecting light and the light from the neighbors’ place.
I try to helpfully suggest that The Professor use his phone’s flashlight. He does but is out there a little while, sighing with increasing frequency.
A longtime animal owner, I figure I can help him make this a successful mission and I go out there too, hoping kitty doesn’t push the patio door open while I’m gone. I point out the poo to Professor, who shakes his head and scoops the poo up as best he can. In an almost stage whisper, he says to me, gesturing upward with the swinging poop bag, “Your neighbors are watching!” I try to assure him, helpfully, “it’s okay, it’s okay.”
I look around – I was pretty sure I saw a second poop coming from Puppy while Professor was searching for the first. Maybe I’m wrong? We three return to the patio.
The Professor asks where he can deposit the poop bag and goes in to wash his hands, shooing the curious cat back as he goes.
He returns looking almost victorious. He doesn’t say, “Now where were we?” before he leans in to kiss me, but that was the feeling of it – that is, until Puppy barks and we realize he is digging up plant bulbs in the common area.
“WHAT?! PUPPY!!!” Professor tries to use his loud Puppy-Training voice, before helplessly saying to me, “He never barks! Or digs! I swear!”
I go over to the dog and am working on separating him from the plant bulb he was unearthing just in case it’s one of those poisonous-to-animals plants, when I hear an awfully alarmed, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” from the patio.
The Professor is all hunched over, looking at the bottom of one of his (sockless) loafers.
I look, too.
“I did not know little puppies could poop THAT much,” I muse out loud, no longer helpfully. “I’ll go grab the paper towels!” I come back with Lysol wipes too. I mean, there was A LOT of POO, people.
The Professor grabs the paper towel roll, and because it is a new roll struggles with the first paper towel, which is still glued down. I hand him the Lysol wipes while I peel the towel loose from the roll and try to say helpful, soothing things, while the Professor wipes at truly copious amounts of poo, some of which – because it was rather soft to begin with – drops down onto the patio, half on my patio rug, half on the bare concrete beneath it.
“Jesus, JESUS. What a nightmare. What a nightmare. Jesus, what a nightmare.” It’s dark but there’s enough ambient light that I can see a big vein in the Professor’s forehead.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s really okay,” I say, trying to calm him, and then I add, maybe trying to get a laugh out of him to bring this all down a notch: “I mean, after all… sh!it happens!”
I laugh out loud at my own funny. The Professor? Not so much. He’s busy muttering under his breath, “Jesus, it’s EVERYWHERE!” wiping sh!t from the creases of his loafer sole. “I’m gonna need a bag for all this!” I look, too. And yeah, there was quite a little mountain of poopy paper towels and nasty wipes piling up on my patio floor.
Like a surgeon who’s just scrubbed in, The Professor wipes his brow with a clean elbow, leaving his hands out in front of him. He motions to me with the elbow where to find a poop bag. We can’t open it though. It’s one of those thin plastic baggies where you can never tell if you’re attempting to open it on the right end or not.
“We’re gonna need a bigger bag,” I say dramatically, trying to impersonate what’s his name from JAWS, if only to amuse myself. I mean, what else is there to do but laugh once we’re in this deep?
But, this guy is clearly suffering, so I dash inside and find the nearest disposable receptacle – a bright white and blue Amazon mailer – which I dispatch in short order to Professor, who still has his hands in the air like a scrubbed-in surgeon.
Then, suddenly ashen, he lifts his head from his Sisyphean task and asks a series of what I guess are rhetorical questions: “OH GOD! Did I track this stuff inside? I don’t remember! I don’t remember! Do you? Do you remember? Did I have my shoes on when I went in earlier? You know, before I – before I knew?”
“It’s okay! It’s okay! It’s really okay! Please, please don’t worry about it! Even if you did, who cares!? This is what having animals is all about sometimes. No big deal!”
I mind The Puppy, while The Professor is scrubbing and stuffing, scrubbing and stuffing, until the Amazon mailer is bulging with All.The.Sh!t. I muse to myself how people sometimes say proudly, about, say, some fancy shampoo really cheap, “I got this sh!t on Amazon…” and how funny it would be if I mailed it back to Amazon like it was a return.
I stifle a laugh. I mean, this is all Really Funny. My date – whose loafers I have always hated and tried to overlook – is heaving heavy sighs over those same loafers, now smeared with sh!t, and my date – whose mauve skinny pants with the matching mauve belt – is all hunched over the mess on my patio, hands and loafers held far away from mauve pants and mauve belt, which now have a matching mauve forehead vein.
Puppy whimpers going back into his little mesh case. Kitty meows and pushes at the door once more. I cough to stifle another laugh. My date, if he is going to be my date, should find this Really Funny, too. The Professor does not. Not.Even.Remotely.
Puppy whimpers again, as I open the patio door wide, while shooing my kitty back, back, back.
What does the death knell of a fledgling relationship sound like, you ask?
Not like a bang, and not like a belly laugh, either, though that would be fun.
But maybe like this: A stifled cough, a kitty’s mew, a professor’s sigh, a puppy’s whimper.
The Professor tries to collect himself once inside. Deposits his poop-strewn, poop-scented loafers outside my apartment door in the common hallway, puts the puppy case down on the ground near his feet, adjusts his collar, and clears his throat. Bred exceedingly well, Professor was surely trained to have Good Manners to the Bitter End and to thank the host or hostess, no matter how atrocious the visit. He juts toward me, puts his arms around me, and before kissing me goodbye, says, with not a hint of irony, “Thank you for another wonderful evening.”
I close the door behind him as he goes.
I am the one sighing now. Ooof, the writing is on the wall, I guess. Or, in this case, the poo is on the patio.
Inner Voice cackles: Yep! You said it, girl! Sh!t happens.
I am too tired to shoot Inner Voice a withering look.
And, as they used to say on Bugs Bunny, “That’s all, Folks!”