Friday, July 17, 2009

The diary in the sea chest

If you read my last blog, you will know that my human brother Chad has moved out, and Daddy is destroying the stairway trying to bring his discarded furniture up from the basement so Mommy and Daddy can remodel. Some of these discarded items have been in my Daddy’s family for decades, including an old sea man’s (tee-hee) chest that Daddy’s Granddad carried up the pier on to one end of the battleship and shortly afterwards down the other pier and back home having deduced that his contribution to the Allied cause in the First World War was to grow grapes, make wine, and ship it to Germany hoping that the Kaiser would get blind drunk and surrender. History is unclear on the success of this endeavor.

Pocket and I investigated this sea chest yesterday and found the diary of Daddy’s boyhood dog Barney. (A diary is like a blog that no one gets to read. I don’t understand the point either.) Pocket and I spent the morning reading it and we were fascinated to realize that stupidity is passed down from generation to generation. This is from Barney’s journal circa 1974.

“Last night as I lay in the kitchen trying to hide the fact that I had spent the morning in the swamp and thanking the puppy Gods that no one would take the leash law seriously for another 20 years I heard Daddy’s Mommy (Foley’s note: Barney called my Daddy ‘Daddy’ and didn’t call anybody Mommy) banging on the bathroom door from the inside and I thought to myself ‘Oh Lord what has this woman done now!’

I walked out of the kitchen, into the hallway, and to the bathroom door. Daddy’s Mom was banging on it and she yelled “Hey Captain Stupid (which is what she called her husband) I am struck in the bathroom.” Captain Stupid was upstairs talking with Daddy and he, Daddy, and Daddy’s sister came downstairs. Daddy was 9 and Sister 12. They asked their Mom what was wrong and she said she was stuck in the bathroom.

Now they were a very emotional people, and upon hearing that their mother was trapped in the bathroom, both children panicked, picturing themselves living out their childhood with their mother stuck in the bathroom, condemned to sliding slices of meat under the door so she wouldn’t starve, having their graduation pictures taken with their father and a door, having to share a single bathroom. It was too much the bear.

They began to cry, and their Mom began to cry, and I went in the kitchen, saw a treat on the floor and thought ‘Great, dinner and a show.’ I picked up my treat and walked in the living room, where I was never allowed, and sat to watch. “Captain Stupid get me out of here,” my Daddy’s Mom yelled. (Just to note, I do not believe the man had any formal military training.)

“Woman, take the hinge off the door!” the Captain said. Woman was his nickname for his wife, and dog his nickname for me. He was south of a clever man.

“I can’t do it, I can’t do it!” she yelled, the children cried, the Captain became more flustered. I chewed.

“Take this screwdriver!” he said then thwacked the handle against the door.

“It won’t fit!” she said, the first time in the history of her marriage she had done so to him.

“Excuse me Captain,” I said. “That door is nothing more than glorified cardboard, a good kick should open it, or some pressure, perhaps a blast from your shoulder. Hell I could just put my paws on it and it’ll pop open. Just don’t do anything dumb like trying to climb through the window.”

He announced he was going to climb through the window.

See this was an old New England family with ancestors who fought in the revolution, and well, these Yankees sure as hell weren’t listening to the dog. The Captain spoke to the door. “Put the toilet seat down, when I climb in the window I will step on it.”

The Captain then went down the stairs and Daddy and his sister were reaching under the door to touch their Mommy like people trapped in a sinking ocean liner begging for one touch of humanity. I suppose, being the dog, I should have gone over, nuzzled them, and made them feel safe, but I was wondering if I should bolt out the door and take my chances being a hobo’s dog.

There were endless sobs at the door as children and parent said their inevitable goodbyes. Then they heard the scratch of an unsteady ladder on cheap aluminum siding and then the Captain hauling his physique carved from fists full of Narragansett beer upwards to the open window. We heard Woman telling him to be careful as he stood on the top rung, and then slowly lowered himself through the window as my heart raced in anticipation of the inevitable thud that would accompany his demise which I was sure was imminent since it was the destiny of all members of the Captain’s family through the generations to die at the culmination of an act of stupid futility.

But all hope of that was lost as we heard the splash, as the Captain’s two feet landed in the toilet bowl, and then the rip of the shower curtain which he tried to grab as he toppled out of the bowl and into the tub, and then the words, the dirty, awful, cuss words that were never published in the Bible, with accepted words sprinkled about, which, when strung together, meant “why didn’t you put the toilet seat down?”

“I did put the seat down.” Woman said.

“If you put the seat down then how the did I end up in the toilet bowl!”

“I put the seat down, not the lid.”

“Why the would you think that I wanted the seat down and no the lid?”

“I thought you finally learned to be polite,” she said.

Meanwhile, the two neglected children, were huddled by the door, imagining that is where they would spend the rest of their days, to be known as the Bathroom Door children, with television news crews parked in the front yard doing stories on the kids whose only contact with their parents was between a cheap cardboard door.

They both gave out a startled cry when the door opened and their father walked by them, squish, squish, squish, squish, followed by their mother, two steps behind him as he went up the stairs, arguing about whose fault it was the door jammed. Sister soon followed, yelling at the Captain to leave her Mom alone.

My Daddy, all of nine years old, was sitting by the door, looking rather bewildered. I went over to him, licked his hand, put my bulky weight against him and looked into his blue eyes. “Whatever happens, 37 years from now, don’t try to move a bed up two stories on your own,” I said.

I can only hope he heeds my advice, and the cycle of stupidity stops.

1 comment: