Boat On The Water was my loyal companion for the most trying three years of my life. The handsome lab witnessed my last year drinking and my first two years of sobriety. Excruciatingly challenging times is no overstatement, a sentiment more than a few readers could verify.
Boat loved to swim in Weatherhead Hollow Pond where I have a cabin in southern Vermont. He would play with the mallard families which seemed to enjoy his shenanigans. One night Boaty and I saw a meteorite cross the sky and after that he would always look up when I let him out at night.
I had to put Boat down yesterday because he bit me again. He got easily spooked and would bite when confused. Personification and projection are not lost on me, yet it’s impossible not to try to understand animal behavior with what limited tools we humans possess.
I explained to him that our three years as best pals were up and thanked him profusely with kisses and hugs. I told him I have never needed companionship more intensely than that which he brought to my life. I told him he would sleep forever and dream of ducks and shooting stars. I never cried so hard as he licked at my tears.
I am sure other dog owners have loved their pets as much as I did, but I can assure you none have loved theirs more.
Category Archives: Steven Stucko
She would ding when she should dong, dang when she should have rang, and sometimes would clang for no apparent reason. Emily had been in the Amherst Women’s Club bell choir for thirty-five years and now her hearing was failing.
Talented, her musical duties evolved over the years from swinging and shaking to a more complicated martellato, where she skillfully created the tricky staccato tones made by striking the bell into the foam-covered table in such a way that the clapper strikes the casting immediately after the bell strikes the foam. Emily nailed it every time until, at eighty-nine, her ears book-ended a gathering fog.
Emily wanted her swan song performance to be at the Fall Ball. Friends were concerned, but Emily arrived at the first practice with modified bells sporting crocheted clappers. She attended every practice and learned all the arrangements, though another woman took over her part.
No one spoke of the ruse and Emily appeared to hit all the notes. She received a standing ovation, and after the buffet dinner took the podium and dinged her wine glass to get everyone’s attention [F#7].
“I want to thank the choir for the chance to stand up here one last time, and if anyone needs some silent bells, just drop off some yarn!” The room erupted in kind laughter and good cheer. Emily passed before Christmas and we smiled at her service. She was a hoot.
“What’s your safe word?”
“Your safe word. For when you want me to stop doing whatever I’m doing.”
Ernie and Bert had decided to spice up their sex lives by investing in some leather gear ordered from an intro-to-bondage web site. “It’s like S&M for Dummies!” Bert squealed.
“Don’t squeal” Ernie said. “and it’s not S&M, its just role playing. Pick a safe word.”
“Pumpernickel.” Bert offered. “OK, fine” Ernie said. “Mine is “Uncle.”
The room filled with the musky smell of new leather as the old friends tried on seatless chaps and long buckled boots which took a half hour to pull on and a full hour to remove. Shiny harnesses and handcuffs clanked along with Lady Gaga.
After dinner and some wine they dressed each other up and went at it. At one point Bert had had enough. “Why! Why! Why!” is what Ernie heard, Bert’s panicked voice muffled, barely audible through the leather mask. His eyes started to roll back in his head so Ernie unzipped the mouth zipper and heard his friend yell: “Rye! Rye! Rye! My God! I almost suffocated! I was screaming my safe word!” Blue, Bert gasped for breath.
“Your safe word is Pumpernickel not Rye! I almost killed you because you can’t remember what type of bread you picked!” Ernie yelled, exasperated.
Still choking, Bert said: “I always order rye! You should know that by now!”
She had a bad haircut and her ears were clearly in need of a Q-tip. Her name was Brenda. We were in line for ReoSpeedwagon tickets chatting about our mutual love for the Wagon, how many shows we’ve seen, and which T-shirts we saved over the years.
Then she starts telling me about this ‘hobby’ she’s way into. She calls it Hand Surfing and how one participates in this activity is to stick one’s hand out the window of a moving car. “I’m trying to take it to the next level” she explained. “I’m working on a catalog of maneuvers and degree of difficulty ratings on my web site: fun.at.hand.net. I’m introducing stronger finger kites and some cool new parachutes that look like psychedelic doctor masks, all biodegradable so the broken ones on the side of the road are gone within two weeks tops. I try to go green whenever possible. Oh, and I’m trying to get a sponsorship deal with Johnson & Johnson for hand lotion. Hand Surfing is hell on cuticles.”
We bought our concert tickets and stranger-hugged goodbye. “Maybe I’ll see you at the show! Rock on!” she yelled over her shoulder.
On the way home I rolled down my window, cracked my knuckles and shook out my hand. I launched into the oncoming 65mph wind and smiled. I wished I had a little parachute. That would be so cool.
As I rounded the corner I saw her fiery house fold like a lawn chair and slam hissing into the swimming pool. The following day’s headline would read: “Dog Drowns in Fire” because it was true and because everyone loves authentic irony. It was brutal.
The lawn mower in the tool shed had exploded launching stored furniture, holiday decorations and bags of Moo-Doo over the garage, setting the house ablaze. My friend Sarah was in hysterics. Horrified, she thought of her diaries and the birth control pills.
I saw her Dad throw undamaged dining room chairs, two at a time, onto the flaming azaleas (he always hated those chairs). He kicked at a Captain Beefheart record as it melted, form-fit, over a garden gnome. “How Dali” he thought, then panic: his porn and all the hidden booze bottles.
Her Mom was on her hands and knees picking up shards of shattered Hummel figurines and weeping, her knees bloody. She looked back at the house and, reality check: a recent affair she secretly wished hadn’t ended. She had kept notes and a few photos.
I stood behind a tree across the street and wondered if there were a fire in my house, what would I pray would burn and be lost forever? Ironic, no?
Sarah was the worst lab partner ever. I had only meant to burn down the shed because she botched our science project. There goes my AP Bio credit. Brutal.
A man wearing one of the ubiquitous Jason Mraz fedoras and sits next to a man snapping his newspaper, trying to find the fold. He tosses the paper, dated 9/2/10, on the seat and the hat man reads the headline aloud: “’renowned physicist Stephen Hawkings changes his theory on the origin of the Big Bang from God to gravity,’ how potentially Copernican.”
The nun sitting across from them clutches her iPod like a crucifix and lowers the volume of her soundboard bootlegged Melissa Ethridge to better eavesdrop.
“Maybe this will help people take responsibility for their own divinity and make clearer that the objective morality and personal accountability we largely project on deities and institutions is, has, and will be in us all. Our soul is ours; we share the “Over-soul,” the common heart. The a priory awareness we are gifted by our nature, independent of sensory data, is the foundation of our being. We are untaught this by fear-filled subjectivity. “
He continues: “While some theists consider mans’ “version” of morality as biological adaptation, a herd morality, and a mere aid to survival and reproduction, the true nature of our responsibility rests in our souls. We know to work toward the light and not to the black holes.” We know right and wrong.”
Gravity? Just watch the tides, ask a hospital worker if it’s busier on nights with a full moon, or simply drop an apple. Go with positive energy. Our only responsibility: to love.
She works at a store that sells inflatable palm trees and cat wall clocks with eyes that move back and forth.* My big (but younger) sister will rue the day she gave this girl my phone number. I now receive the most inane texts messages of mind numbing minutia such as wardrobe debacles and meal menus. I mean, if one has time to text “busy at work” they are probably lying. My sister informed me that this girl is “warm for my form.” I threw the dog at her and forbade her from ever referring to my “form” again.
I’m a nice guy so instead of telling this girl to buzz off I decided to take her to a gory movie so she would think I’m creepy and leave me alone. Little did I know that she would manage to find something chick-flicky and romantic amidst the carnage and mayhem. She assumed I was just trying to scare her so she would grab my hand for support.
Now she thinks horror films are “our thing” and wants to rent these gross slasher movies hoping to shriek and jump in my lap or something. She’s into Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails and has morphed into this goth wanna-be with black fingernails and eyeliner. Worse, she tries to smoke clove cigarettes.
I filed a restraining order.
*The store also sells neon palm trees and crepe paper palm trees and other stupid things, like beads.
I peed next to Buzz Aldrin last year. We were at adjacent urinals at Foxwoods casino, struck up a conversation and decided to have a drink: soda (we’re both sober). It was hard not to be all gee-whizzy and gush a thousand questions as we saluted green cheese (he: lol), we settled in and he indulged me a few. Yes they did have Tang. Yes, all their food came in tubes, and no, he wasn’t scared. Apparently, one cannot pass gas in space, a fact (he offered!) which I found gross -TMI Buzz.
I told him about the koi fish pond I dug in Vermont and he shared about his bonsai woes. He said I should check out his rap song with Snoop Doggy Dogg; I thought he was joking but no – go Google it. I told him I had a crush on Neil Armstrong. He said: “We all did.” [!?] He signed a few autographs but I gave people the evil-eye and they stayed away.
I asked Buzz if he regretted anything about his monumental voyage and he said: “Sleep.” He told me he was up for over forty hours and was getting delusional. “Houston wouldn’t let me sleep!”
We shook hands and he fake walked away like he was kind of bouncing in low gravity (me: lol). Now whenever I stare up at the moon I think how my man Buzz just wanted a tube of Oreos, a tube of milk and a little nap.
I can’t wait for her PSAT results. I can’t wait for someone to clearly explain magnetism to me so I really get it. I can’t wait for 2012 to be over. I can’t wait for my meds to kick in.
I can’t wait to finally trust someone again, especially if there is a power imbalance like with government and citizenry, or a father and his children, or when the power is supposed to be equal like with races and religions, or with a spouse. I can‘t wait to learn Tivo.
I can’t wait for the bug I can’t get out of my eye to die already and be absorbed into my body. I can’t wait for her to lose the triceps flab as expeditiously as she lost the weight. I can’t wait to realize that a mere list of imaginative non sequiturs constitute nothing other than insecure pretension. I can’t wait for Tom Brokaw to clear his throat. I can’t wait for her to give AA a second chance.
I can’t wait for my brother and sister to feel, as I do, the rush of supportive energy and the loving presence of our father who died the day before Thanksgiving. A week before he died he said something quite profound to us: he said he was “looking forward to possibly learning some of the big answers to some of the big questions.” He waited until he could wait no more. I realized then that life’s greatest gift is time.