Thursday, September 29, 2005

My dog is some sort of celebrity.

I’m not entirely sure how this works. Suffice it to say I can’t walk him down the street without being stopped over and over. He’s cute, I’ll give him that. There’s something about a big, wrinkly, slobbery grinning dog that just screams, “love me, pet me, worship me. Right now,” especially to women everywhere, and doubly especially to uuper-dooper cute young ladies. Not that this helps me any. I don’t swing that way. But my fiancée seems to enjoy it.

I am not sure how that works, though. Here comes a beast known by the nickname “Slushmug”, who snores and passes more gas than a cow bent on ecological destruction. He has a huge head that splits open when he’s grinning, which he does often. He’s hairy, chubby, and drooly. Somehow, ladies get a subconscious urge to run up and melt over him. Now if he were, say, a man and not a dog, I have trouble seeing the same women wanting to stop, coo, and rub his tummy. They’d probably cross the street, or just save time and go for a quick restraining order.

But no, Halsey is a dog, which means he is just the cutest drool factory around. I can see it. I’m his owner; I really do think he’s adorable. I’m just amazed at how many other people do.

Here’s the rub, though. Everyone who goes gaga on over him remembers him. Forever. By name. There are chic stores and boutiques in LA where a lurch trough the door is always greeted with “HAAAAALLLLLLLSSSEEEEEEYYYYYY! You’re back! Look, everyone, it’s Halsey! How are you?” and a rush of admiring clerks. People on the street remember him. Everyone in the neighborhood, and by that I mean the San Fernando Valley and parts of Century City, knows the dog by name. They have no clue who I am, however. I’m just that person at the other end of the leash. My sole purpose seems to have become as a sort of dog docent; I answer questions. Usually the same ones over and over.

I swear, I’m going to get a t-shirt printed up:

You may pet my dog.

He’s a boy.

He’s a bulldog.

65 pounds.

His name is Halsey (as if they didn’t already know).

He does snore.

Not more than any other dog his size.

No, he doesn’t bite.

Yes, he’s fixed, and no, he doesn’t seem to notice. He can’t reach back there to see.

I don’t really mind it all, I just wish someone would perhaps slip a little question about me in there. I like to talk to people, too!

A walk that might take anyone not blessed with such a chick-magnet dog say, half an hour, could take me twice to three times that due totally to adoring fans. Then again, he’s not one of those stuck-up celebrities, like Shaquille O’Neal (who once was so desperate to ignore me, he stared over my head at a wall for 10 minutes. This was not difficult.). Halsey is thrilled to meet anyone. He’s perfectly happy to grin, kiss, or drool on anyone, no matter who they are. He even poses for pictures. If he can, he’ll autograph their clothes with slobber. Trust me, it never fully washes out.

Perhaps I shouldn’t complain. I mean, he makes time for me. Usually.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Why is life yummy?

When I say “yummy” life, I don’t mean the Shirley Temple Good-Ship-Lollypop kind of Candyland life many people immediately think of. This often gets me in some sort of odd trouble. People honestly think I men that life is wonderful and easy and set up so one can have and enjoy one’s greatest desires, pass the chocolate sauce please. This, in fact, is not a yummy life. People who have everything they want tend to get stomachaches, or just really bored.

I remember the last time I had everything I wanted. I was throwing up for an hour or two and felt lousy for the next two days. Great picture, huh?

Oddly, when people think of “yummy life’, they tend to think in terms of food. That really isn’t a surprise. Many think of yummy in terms of food that is going to make us so very, very fat. This also isn’t a surprise-the body is hardwired to crave fat, sweets and grease. No wonder deep-fried Twinkies are so popular. I was struck when watching tapes of Texas evacuations that pretty much everyone filmed was obese-Texas really is the largest state in the nation. Yee Haw!

Frankly, people who want to at all that garbage scare the bejezus out of me, mainly because I used to be one. I got so pissed off at the idea of being a big fat lazy schlubby picked upon-by-strangers mess past thirty and on into infinity, I actually got myself off my fat butt and did something. People who knew me were in shock, and some still gotten over it. Most would have followed that big fat butt statement with, “did you need a steam shovel?’ Boy, I know some wonderful people. Anyhow, I lost it all, and then went my usual obsessive nuts and started super duper exercising and lifting weight, and here I am, not too badly off in the being in shape department.

Of course, people think I can eat whatever I want. Seriously. Not only do they think it, they really, really want to believe it in their deepest of pre angioplasty cholesterol smothered hearts. People who know me, or discover how much I lost, or see an old picture of me as the schlub positively run up to me, eyes twinkling, in the hopes that I have the secret magic weapon against fat that they had, until three seconds ago, thought that Atkins, or whomever, had.

“So, you lost a lot of weight, and put on all that muscle?” they ask, grinning from ear to ear. In some cases, it’s quite an impressive effort.

“You bet, I feel great! I never get sick, and I have all this energy!”

“So,” why do they always start off every sentence with ‘so’? Every single one of them. It’s eerie. “you work out?”

“Oh yeah, it really is a stress-buster, too.” Here it comes, I can feel it.

“So…you can eat whatever you want, right?”

“Hell, no. I eat salad at least twice a day, only eat a few whole-grain carbs, no fried food, I switched to Splenda. I have to eat the way my mother always told me-lots of veggies and fruit and good stuff like that. I really like it, though. Don’t miss the garbage much. Haven’t touched pizza in three years.”

Still, they want to avoid reality. “So, you did all that, but you can eat all the meat you want, right?”

“Nope, I don’t eat red meat but maybe a little twice a year. I eat fish at least twice a week, and mostly tofu or lentils and beans.”

“So you eat as much of that as you want!” Hope springs eternal.

“Nope, 3-ounce portions of protein once or twice a day, and I pretty much weigh and measure everything. I eat small meal every 3 hours or so-maybe six meals a day.” But I have to give them something, "I do treat myself to dinner out once a week. I like sushi a whole lot…Fridays, I might splurge. I mean, I deny myself nothing, I just have a lot better portion control, and I eat mostly vegetables and a rainbow of fruits.” When in doubt, quote nutritional literature at them. It never works, but I feel good trying.

By now, there are few shreds of hope left for my examiner. “So, you work out…a lot of walking, right?”

“Um, I do walk about an hour or so a day, every day if I can. Then I do an hour to two hours of strength training Monday, Wednesday and Friday and an hour of aerobics Tuesday and Thursday on top of the walks. I’m really trying to get into weight lifting.”

Well, that usually does it. If the sensible diet doesn’t drive them away, the exercise sure as heck does. Some people don’t even make it past the “eat anything you want” question. For some reason, as they sadly creep away to Mickey D’s for another helping of cholesterol and flavor chemicals, I’m the one labeled “freak.”

Don’t worry; eventually I get back to my point. Usually. If I’m lucky.

What I mean by a yummy life is that if you live well, and I mean sensibly, not self-centeredly, life can be pretty darn tasty. The hard times make it worth the good. Would Christmas have been so good when you were young if you didn’t have to worry about being good all darn year? Is the dessert worth it if you don’t have to eat the Brussels sprouts? (For me, no, I hate Brussels sprouts. I wouldn’t eat them for all the chocolate in Belgium.) See, you can have what you want, but it isn’t worth a jot if it’s all just handed to you.

Life is yummy for me now because I have to work for it. Like cooking most of my own meals. Like exercising at least an hour a day. Like waiting eight friggin’ years for an engagement ring, thank you very much (more on that later). I enjoyed the Hell out of those three pancakes I ate at John O’Groats on my birthday this year because I hadn’t eaten pancakes in two years and don’t plan on eating them again for at least one more. Most pancakes just aren't worth it, and those that are must be treated with the proper respect and reverance they deserve. I mean, heck, if platinum and diamond rings were just scattered everywhere, would De Beers be as rich a monopoly as it is now? And remember, a diamond is forever a girl's best friend and stuff.

I’m far from perfect, I screw up plenty. My mistakes and messes and fixes can be legendary. But seriously, it’s fun to look back on them. Way…WAY later. Now and again, I do something right, and that’s good too.

Work for life, and then savor it.

Life can be yummy…let me share with you my yummy life with you. The ups, the downs, the funny bits, the sad parts. The food I make or have. The dog is worth his own blog, but let’s not let him know that.

I mean, his typing is terrible, and he can be kind of single-minded.