Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Two: Ma’am and the dinner party…

Nowadays one needs a playbook before attending a dinner party. There is a list of topics safe to discuss, and those that are not. There are the schematics of who is who and how they are six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

We are walking to a dinner party at a friend’s house several blocks from our home. I feel like the coach before the Super Bowl discussing the play-by-play with Confused Husband. He sighs dramatically and tells me to stop chastising him like he is a child. I mention the Christmas of 2000 and my former friend(yes, former) Kara and her Christmas Party. It went something like this: On the way to the party, I repeat myself EASILY fifty times telling Confused Husband that Kara and her hubby got their boys the Playstation2 that they have been wanting as their big Christmas present and they were hiding it at our house in the basement. Crestfallen, he says he saw it and thought that it was his gift from me, (are you smoking crack?!, you, my friend are getting socks, underwear, and whatever gifts the kids have made you!).
I go over and over NOT to bring the Playstation 2 up at all! We get to the party, ring the doorbell, and Kara’s eldest son Alex answers the door. Confused Husband says: “Hey man! are you psyched for your PlayStation 2?!” Alex goes tearing through the house yelling: “Mom did you get me a PlayStation 2?!” Needless to say, that was the last time I saw Kara. Her husband followed us home to collect the Playstation 2 from our home. We didn’t even make it out of the foyer into the actual party.

Fast forward to now. I inform him that I REALLY like these friends and would like to keep them! I brief him on Kyle and Craig a wonderful Gay couple who are living in the English basement of our friends Jen and Stu’s home. Kyle used to live next door to Jen and Stu with his wife Grace and their three children. But then Kyle fell in love with Craig, Grace’s hairdresser and he moved out. For the benefit of the children, Kyle rented Jen and Stu’s basement apartment so he could still co-parent the kids with Grace. Grace is now dating a man named Frank, but we aren’t sure if Frank is a Scientologist or Jehova’s Witness so don’t talk about any cult-like stuff or mention anything about Tom Cruise for heaven’s sake! Confused Husband stops walking and looks at me: “Why would I bring up Tom Cruise? How random is that! Plus, if he is a Jehova I could have him spread the word to his flock not to ring our doorbell because we are uninterested in joining. Maybe if he put in a good word, we would stop getting visitors!” I reiterate: “NO!”

Then, I share that Bev and her annoying nasal talking husband Greg are going to be there and I lower my voice and say: “I think he is a closeted Republican, so no political jokes period!” he looks like he has just swallowed something tart. I share that:” Greg has recently taken up whittling wood and that would be a safe subject to venture into.” I also point out: “Greg’s first work is that giant wood piece in their garden a replica of Nessie the Loch Ness monster. “
Confused Husband says: “That thing! I thought that was a giant wooden penis! He better not quit his day job!”(I don’t enlighten him by saying: “Well actually, he did quit his job to become a professional wood whittler and it obviously is affecting their marriage!”)

I tell him about Theo:” who makes Vegan candles which I don’t understand because I thought that wax was not from an animal, to begin with.” I instruct Confused Husband: “not to share with Theo his love for Yankee Candles and all of the marvelous scents. Because I am pretty sure they are not vegan candles, and I have smelt Theo’s candles and they smell like body odor. So don’t offer to sniff his candles either.” He glares at me and retorts: “Why would I go up to some strange man and ask to sniff his candles?!”

Confused Husband sighs dramatically and says: “This is harder than studying for medical school to become a doctor!” I wonder out loud, “and, you would know this how?… Are you a secret doctor and I have never known this?”
I move on to another couple that will be there as well, Chloe and Hannah. But they identify as “They’s” not she or her. He looks perplexed: “Well, what if they are only singular? The word “they” means more than one person! So can I say you?”(Oh he is going down a slippery slope on this one!) I tell him:” Just use their first names PERIOD!”
I also brief him not to stare too much at Grace’s awful hair color and cut. She stopped going to Craig because of him cheating on her with her husband. She now goes to Chloe from the “They” couple, but Chloe is partially blind and therefore has issues as a hairdresser. But she does have a handicapped parking pass and people are wondering if she should even be driving? So don’t bring that up! Nothing about handicapped or parking okay?!” Confused Husband looks annoyed and shakes his head.: “I mean I was going to mention that handicapped dog on wheels that I wanted to adopt for the handicapped parking pass! That was going to be my story for the night! Now I have to think of something else!”
I am GOBSMACKED!:” What are you auditioning for the Tonight Show?!, what do you mean by your story for the night?! Are we going to a dinner party? Or are you practicing your standup?!”
He looks as though I have just told him that there is no such thing as Santa Claus. He loud whispers to me: “Walk slower! I have to think of something!” (At this rate we won’t get there until morning!) I am also lugging this berry-baked cheesecake that I was assigned by Jen to make. It weighs a ton! Confused Husband is too deep in thought to even offer to help carry it! I should have wheeled it in the wheelbarrow!
He attempts to try out his schtick on me: “How about if I tell them about the time you were picked up in the Gap by a lesbian and had coffee with her before you realized you were on a date? That was HILARIOUS! I bet they would have a laugh at that!”
OMG! He is so ANNOYING! “Why don’t you pretend to be a Monk and practice a vow of silence?!”

We finally arrive at the dinner party. Jen answers the door and is thrilled with my berry-baked cheesecake! She whisks us in and announces to the group: “Our arrival and this FABULOUS gluten-free dessert are here!”
I am so perplexed (What gluten-free dessert?!). I just smile. I excuse myself and dash into the loo. I pull up the recipe on my phone. I scroll through it, at the very, very, bottom it has a gluten-free section! I look at Jen’s text. Again, at the bottom which I didn’t read, it says: “Please make the gluten-free one. FUCK!!!!! I Google: “What happens if you eat a non-gluten-free item?” Various scenarios come up. I mean nothing life-threatening other than some stomach and digestive issues. It’s not like I am giving a diabetic sugar right?
I begin to sweat. Knowing my Charlie Brown luck, if I don’t divulge I would probably wind up murdering people. I would be known as the Berry-Baked Cheesecake serial killer. My weapon of choice is a faux gluten-free berry-baked cheesecake. I can just see the Netflix series now trending with a picture of me with bad hair because the only other survivor was Chloe the blind hairdresser, who forgave me and visits me in prison, and styles my hair. Who am I a known serial killer to say no to such a kind offer? Plus I am in prison for life, so does it really matter what my hair looks like?

Ugh! Exiting the loo I pull Jen aside and explain my faux pas. She looks so disappointed in me. Like I have committed the ultimate sin. I offer to send Confused Husband up to Whole Foods bakery, to purchase gluten-free desserts, and for the rest of us, we can eat the berry-baked cheesecake. Jen is thinking. She scowls and says: “It isn’t fair that some of us can sit here eating this but for the gluten-free people they have to eat whatever from the bakery now is it?”So now I am being shamed for being able to eat gluten? Will I leave this dinner party with a Scarlet letter a giant G on me like a modern-day Hester Prynne?
There are whispers amongst the guests like I have just brought in a Tupperware filled with cocaine.
I long for the days of a simpler time. When there wasn’t all of this over-analyzing
I mean how much thought is going into this? Are we trying to figure out a world crisis?! Why is EVERYTHING a BIG deal?! Why is there so much discussion and thought and debate put into dessert?! What happened all those years of people eating Velveeta, Cool-Whip, sugar-coated cereal, pop-tarts, microwaved TV dinners? Okay, some are now obese or dead but for those of us still, here I mean as Marie Antoinette said” Let them eat (gluten-free)cake!

Chapter One Hundred Fifty-One: Ma’am, Buddy, and Rumspringa…

The journey in search of a new pup hasn’t been as easy as one may think, as, in my last post, there was a whole Puppy-gate scenario, involving Russians and money after that, I really tried to find a pup through the proper channels.

I joined these adopt a pet websites and like a food order from Uber Eats put it on my wish list. I got daily alerts of dogs that were a good match. At first, for some reason, I was matched with a lot of senior dogs on their last legs. I wondered if this is how the millennials running these websites pictured me. There was Sally who was blind and came with her own oxygen tank(I wondered out loud to Confused Husband if perhaps we could share Sally’s oxygen tank?)
Then there was Oscar, who had wheels for hind legs. I envisioned being allotted a Handicapped Parking pass, and how easy it would be for me to park in the city. Confused Husband was totally against getting Oscar who he pointed out(no pun intended was basically on his last leg.) It wasn’t until I suggested that we may be eligible for a Handicapped parking pass that I saw the wheels(again, no pun intended) turning in Confused Husband’s head. He became enthusiastic about Oscar and gave me the Used car salesman talk of how he could see us with Oscar taking him and his wheels out for a stroll, and he pointed out rather jubilantly having this pass, we could park closer to places because of it, so Oscar wouldn’t have to wheel too far. So he began his research(GOOGLE) into this possibility.

I was growing frustrated by the minute. Of course, these dogs deserved love and a good home, but we had just lost our senior dog and I didn’t wasn’t to go through this again like a week after we got one of these dogs from the look of their pictures and bio. I wanted a younger dog that I could have time with.

My quest for the pooch for our family began and let me tell you, the roller coaster of emotions that followed are exhausting. I filled out forms with essays as to why we would be a good fit for the dog we were interested in. It was more intricate than college or job applications!

I was really trying to sell our family as the PERFECT family for Fido. I had to leave out things like the time Confused Husband picked up the wrong dog from the groomers(I had the inkling they would not have seen the humor in this.) How we fed our last dog pizza, and copious amounts of cheese. Then I was instructed once my application had been sent it would be reviewed by “OUR TEAM”.
If they felt it was a good fit they would contact our references and then if that went well, and they were positive about our references, the next step was a phone interview with me, and if that were successful, then a virtual house tour. Hopefully, if that passed their muster, then we would have a meet and greet with Fido. Next, we would sign the papers, pay the fee, and then take Fido home. Now, this process could take up to a month or more depending on how fast the steps went. If we were fortunate enough to bring Fido home, we would have follow-ups with our adoption counselor. I pointed out to Confused Husband when we adopted one of our daughters we had half the paperwork and it was ten times easier!

I felt like our file was in the hands of a bunch of kids who were sitting in a cube-like hipster place resembling Google Headquarters judging us. It was unnerving. They were picking apart everything I said, and overanalyzing each word every day I waited, sweating like a nun in a cucumber patch for”The Call”. Crickets…

One night, scrolling through my phone without my glasses which were somewhere that I didn’t have the bandwidth to look for this blurry yet ADORABLE face popped up on my phone. I clicked it and when I did I heard a symphony in my head. I scrolled down being able to get the gist of what it said because, without my readers, it is like reading hieroglyphics! I made out the part where the sweet boy was in Pennsylvania. I pictured this little Amish dog with a little black hat and suspenders!
I searched for and finally found my glasses because I HAD to fill out the paperwork for this boy! Clueless next to me, Confused Husband attempting to sleep muttered: “You better not be Amazon shopping!” With verve and truth, I shouted: “Nope!” This was soooo much better! I filled out the application and sent it. I lay there thinking and hoping.

The next morning the owner made contact with me, explaining why they were having to rehome their pup. For the next week, we exchanged emails. Then we decide to meet. I made the choice not to share any of this with Confused Husband just in case it didn’t work out.

The night before I was going to meet the dog, over dinner I broached the subject of perhaps getting a young rehomed dog?

Fervently cutting into his chicken and using his utensils to point with dramatic flair, he began a tangent of: “People only rehome their dogs because the dog is like Cujo!” (OMG! what if my sweet Amish dog was being rehomed because he murdered an entire Amish family by eating them as they slept?! You wouldn’t read about it in the papers since the Amish keep to themselves!”) I begin to sweat. Confused Husband notices and says: “I thought your pills that we pay the equivalent of a mortgage for every month are supposed to help your hot flashes! ” He bellows using his fork like a Maestro conductor. I sheepishly say: “Oh maybe I need a higher dosage?”
He shakes his head, and rants on about: “How we are being ripped off in this country for proper health care, and if we didn’t have to pay for my monthly prescription then we could use that money for vacation instead!”

I am thinking about my secret rendevous tomorrow. What if I am meeting a sex slave trafficker!? I send an email out and tell the guy:” That I am a middle-aged, menopausal woman and I think the dog will help me lose weight by walking every day.” (Hopefully, if he was planning on kidnapping me and selling me to some billionaire who wants a harem I will be out of the running after this!) He responds “Okay…”
It is an extremely ambiguous response! As usual, I can never leave well enough alone so I throw in another email saying:” How we used to have an Amish market nearby and I LOVE the pies and other items! I then go on a diatribe of my love for all things Amish! I ask though how hard is it to live without electricity? I share that I could NEVER live without central air conditioning and ice cubes. I also say that I don’t think I have the face for one of their bonnets that the female Amish need to wear and I can’t use a porta-potty so I don’t think I could ever use an outhouse!”
He responds: “See you tomorrow at noon.”

That night, I cannot sleep. I turn and look at Confused Husband and wonder if this is my last night on earth? He is clueless as to what my plans are. I get up and head into our son’s room. He is up gaming and I give him a giant bear hug and say: “I love you!” (I didn’t want his last memory of me to be of me yelling at him to take out the trash!) He looks at me and says: “What are you being shipped off to war?”

The next morning I wait for everyone to leave. I take out my bag that has been packed (like a movie where the woman is escaping her home with her pre-packed bag, but mine consists of dog treats and a new leash.) I head out to the rendevous point I am SUPER early because I want to scout out all of my possible escape routes in case it is indeed a sex traffic ring and for some reason, they want flabby, sweaty, middle-aged, menopausal women. I wait…
A truck shows up and there is a dog in it. But the dog looks nothing like the picture! It is like a wolf! I am FREAKING out! Do I just drive away? After all, we haven’t exchanged any photos of ourselves, he has no clue what I look like. The guy and the wolf head into a shop. Phew! Can’t be him.
Moments later, another truck appears. Popping his head out the window is the MOST adorable, scruffy, scrumptious boy JUST like the picture! All my apprehensions are gone. I leap out of my car and run towards the truck. The man smiles and gets out of the truck. He takes out the dog and the dog literally jumps into my arms! he licks my face and the man says: “Yup, he likes you!” Perhaps he is Mennonite and not Amish? Maybe he is just a guy from Pennsylvania. Who cares? I found my dog!

I am OVER the moon! We pull out our phones; I electronically sign the adoption papers. The fee is sent to the ASPCA. I get a confirmation! I have legally adopted him!
We head home next to me; the dog sleeps the entire drive back, he is calm, sweet, and lovely; I name him Buddy like Buddy the Elf from the Will Ferrell movie; he is goofy and clumsy like that.

That night the boys get home; they are shocked and smiling all at once. Buddy is; loving, cuddly, and fits into our family; we go out to dinner with Buddy at a local outdoor restaurant to celebrate Buddy joining our family. I suggest maybe we could find Buddy a little black Amish hat? Confused Husband asks: “If I am drunk?” (Okay, maybe put that on the back burner for now.)

When I walk with Buddy, I tell people that Buddy is from Pennsylvania and is on his Rumspringa but staying here forever. I think that adds to Buddy’s back story. To some, I have to explain what Rumspringa is. I have gotten weird looks they scuttle away. I don’t care!
Buddy has helped heal my broken heart after Jack’s passing; I truly believe that Jack somehow orchestrated this.

Buddy and Jack have many similar personality traits, but most of all, they radiate unconditional love.
I promise Confused Husband no more surprises for a while and, well for, now, okay…