6:23 A.M.—I wake up. I hobble out of bed. It takes longer to wake up than it used to. In these morning moments, many thoughts go through my head.
Thoughts like: Why does my back hurt? Did I sleep on a billiard ball last night? What is my name? What is this new pain in my ankle? I don’t remember hurting my ankle. My ankle really hurts. Why does my ankle hurt? Is this even my ankle? I need coffee.
I shuffle to the kitchen. There it is. The coffee pot. I see it. On the stove. Glory be.
But the imaginary voice of my wife speaks to me, even though my actual wife is still asleep.
Imaginary Wife says, “Take your vitamins BEFORE you make coffee, or else you’ll forget.”
But I hate vitamins. My wife buys liquid vitamins that need to be mixed with water. They taste like industrial strength Lysol.
I fill a water glass and mix in liquid vitamins. I toss it back. I gag. I lean over the sink and start to moan. What in God’s name is that pain in my ankle?
I hear rustling in the other room. I hear four pairs of paws. They are scratching on the plastic kennel liners.
The heathens are awake. I hear tails wagging. It sounds like:
THWAT! THWAT! THWAT!
The closer I get to the kennels, the faster the thwats become.
I operate with extreme care. These dogs have been cooped up all night and are ready to to reenact the final scene from the “Great Escape.”
The other morning, I opened the kennel doors and the dogs nearly knocked me over and broke my neck.
“Calm down,” I tell them.
The kennel doors open. Two large-breed dogs leap from their crates like Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson bound for freedom. I fall to the ground and nearly snap my neck.
I shout words which I won’t print here.
The dogs scratch the back door. Which is basically all they ever do. Door-scratching.
My dogs scratch to go out. They scratch to come in. They scratch to show disapproval. They scratch if I forget to recycle. They scratch to express various political views.
In fact, while I write this column, they are scratching my thighs and I can’t even finish typing this senten
I open the back door because they are communicating that they have to tee-tee. Badly.
When the door opens, they run into the backyard and race in circles. Before doing their business, they must sniff every inch of the yard. Then, once they have found the quintessential tee-tee spot beneath the oak tree, they ignore it and urinate on the porch steps instead.
I have not made coffee yet.
I place our percolator on the stove. Corningware. Cornflower Blue. Foldgers. There is a big spoon in the coffee jar. My wife told me to use three scoops this morning. No more, no less.
I made coffee yesterday morning and used six scoops by accident. My wife drank one cup and got so jacked up on caffeine that she cleaned the house, did our taxes, dusted ceiling fans, cut the grass, tarred the roof, replaced our alternator, and collapsed in a coma.
The dogs scratch at the door.
“Let us in,” they are saying.
So I let them inside. Next, I try to start writing more of this column, but the dogs scratch the door and won’t let me finish one single, god-forsaken paragr
“Let us out,” they are saying.
“Let us in.”
This is my life.
The coffee is ready. The pot makes a popping sound on the stove. My favorite sound in the world.
I still can’t get the taste of the vitamins out of my mouth. I wipe my tongue with a dishrag. I accidentally gag myself doing this.
I have a very sensitive gag reflex. My childhood dentist knew this about me. Whenever he saw me coming he would call me the “Puke of Earl” or “Marma-Puke,” or “Matthew, Mark, Puke, and John.”
I wish I were making this up.
I am seated on the sofa now. Hot coffee in hand. But my dogs own this sofa, they are not allowing me a space to sit.
So I shove them off the sofa because I am a man. And all the dog training books I’ve read stress the importance of asserting dominance within the pack, thereby demonstrating oneself as the “alpha male.”
I explain this to my dogs. They listen politely, then vomit up the half-digested remains of a pinecone onto the sofa.
So I get up and leave.
When I do, they follow me. They jump on me. I fall backward and spill my coffee. And I catch myself.
In the process, I tweak something in my foot and it makes me scream. All of a sudden, I remember exactly what happened to my ankle yesterday morning.
And I would tell you all about it, but right now my dogs are scratc