Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's A Dog's Life

Now that we're top of the food chain, what's next?
The top of the food chain ain't what she used to be ladies and gentlemen. The other day my wife and I went to a restaurant. Being a SoCal sunny day we opted for the patio as opposed to indoors. The patio housed a dozen tables, six of which were occupied with owners and their dogs. My wife and I found an empty table and bee lined toward it. The establishment packed the tables in tight as is their right to maximize real-estate vs. $$$. As we approached the table a couple with a boxer dog was attempting to leave their table. Our table slightly pinned their table. Being decent folk my wife and I gave sufficient berth.

However, trouble erupted when the boxer attempted passage by table #3 which had a feisty chihuahua staking its territory. Feisty chihuahua wasn't about to let the uppity boxer (in his eyes) safe travel. He growled and barked and pulled at his tiny restraints. The boxer backed off…which disappointed me, I must admit. At this point the 'pinned down' couple asked to pass around my side of the table which would mean I'd have to back out to the entrance. No problem for me but the wife of the boxer owning couple was what some would call plus size. She'd not make it through the tables. The husband seeing this tells me 'never mind', with a huff and tug of his dog's leash.

Meanwhile couple number two see the boxer coming and manage to scoop up the deadly chihuahua  and place it on 'mommy's lap'. Crisis avoided, yes? That was until the boxer got to the last table where a beagle in a service vest barked, 'hell no' at the boxer. The boxer went into a cowardly panic and tugged every which way upsetting two other tables. The boxer owning dad asked (not politely) for the vested beagle to be handled. The beagle looked on in shock as he had a service vest where the boxer was practically naked-a mere citizen! The owner of the beagle glared at boxer dad, who returned his glare. Onlookers looked on as onlookers will. At this time with an ironic grin I put volume to my voice I piped up.

"Say honey," to my wife, "remember the days when restaurants were for people?"

Believe me when I tell you blogasphere I had NO supporters in that SoCal dog friendly crowd. I was given the stink-eye by 92% of the patrons on that patio. Luckily, being that I'm a card carrying member of the 'old school' I welcomed their scorn the way a party-animal embraces a bar's Happy Hour. Finally, dog owners negotiated the boxer's exit and my wife and I were permitted to sit.

As I stated earlier perching atop the food chain mountain aint what she used to be. And now thanks to Governor Jerry Brown of the great state of California, dog owners are dancing on rooftops. Brown has signed a bill into law allowing dogs to dine on restaurant patios. According to the San Jose Mercury News "…law provides some relief to dog owners statewide…"

Oh que relief in deed, for what were dog owners to do prior to this law; leave the dog at home while dining out? Oh the humanity! Que injustice! Now before y'all toss your doggie poop bags at me know this: I like dogs. I've owned two in my lifetime. I think they rock. But did I suffer separation anxiety while I dined at a restaurant and Poopsy was at home? Hell to the No! Grow up people, you don't have to take your dog with you everywhere.

And don't get me started on service dogs. Ok, since we're onto service dogs…When I was coming up back in the day a typical service dog was a seeing-eye dog and usually a german shepherd breed. Now there are more breeds and I'm cool with that. But, today we have a new category in this great state and that is the 'emotional support dog'. This is a dog that is deemed to give it's owner emotional support often used when flying. Isn't it fair to say that if you love, or even like your dog that she gives you emotional support by definition? Well, it is fair to say that and it's that darn easy to get the papers and the vest for your k-9.
Need support? I got your back!

For a mere $49-$125 and a doctor's note claiming that one has a fear of flying just about anybody can acquire a 'support dog' certificate…and nifty vest to match. Just take a gander around you the next time you fly, it's becoming ridiculous. Under the ADA ( American Disability Act) sexy Stews (sorry I mean flight attendants) cannot question the validity of the dog's 'status'. This is cool as far as the disabled but as far as the 'emotional support dog' group…come on man. Not long ago I did a little survey while waiting in the baggage check line at LAX. Of the 11 people around my wife and I, 8 had dogs and 7 of those were blond women under age 35. This can only mean that although blonds have more fun they truly do…need support. The ADA further states that as long as the dog behaves any and all breeds are welcome. And the patron with the emotional support dog cannot be asked to leave if someone has an allergy to or fear of dogs. In other words, if little Timmy Timmington is scared of dogs not only out of a past traumatic dog bite but because he may go into a pet dander induced coma due to a severe dog allergy…oh well, sorry Timmy you'll have to catch another flight because hot Bianca the next up-and-coming twiggy Super-Model from Raykjavik needs her dog Sheena the Shih-Tzu on her lap at all times!
Sheena the Shih-Tzu

Once again I'm a dog guy. I'm just not a 'people-who-feel-their-doggie-needs-trump-everybody-else's kinda guy. I have a probable solution/ possible declaration. And that is: the day I fly and dogs on the plane equal the number of people I'm going to exercise my right to my emotional support. I'm going to head down to the animal shelter and rescue a three year old 130 lbs. male rottweiler. Then I'm going to book a round trip flight goin' anywhere but here (with frequent stops). Then I'm going to knit the dog an 'emotional support vest' (as I will have taken knitting in night school). I'll board my flight with my Rottweiler, Terminator with a thin fraying leash. Last, I'll work a slightly terrified look on my face. If anybody gives me doubting or nervous looks I'll simply state, "hey, this is a rescue thus making me hero. And he is my rock, my absolute emotional four legged support puppy. Come along Terminator try not to eat the other service dogs this time!"

I'm just playing folks, I wouldn't play my hand like that. But we are in a time where some people are taking their entitlement too far as they bask in their self-absorbed baths of narcissism. If you can't be away from your dog for more than 3 minutes it's not doggie support that you need, it's therapy. Why can't you be away from the little guy for that amount of time and why is it cool to disregard others that may have allergies, fears or just plain want to hang with other bipeds? And as far as my food chain; I need to accept that well…I'm no longer sipping mai tais at the top of it. That era has passed. There's just dogs on planes, restaurants, stores and every-damn-where else. It's going to be 2015 any minute now and as such, if the wife and I want to go for a burger and a beer we're going to have avoid stepping on doggie tails; accept battles for supremacy between competing dog breeds and work a pleasant smile onto our mugs when useless (not all) dog owners are uncertain as to how to exit a SoCal restaurant patio when Billy the boxer becomes afraid at the site of a single marauding attack-chihuahua. Be that as it may, I caution you K9 owners not to abuse this new found privilege in these new found ridiculous times. For, if you do, me, the wife and Terminator the Rottweiler (a.k.a. Termy the Rotty) might be visiting a patio or airplane near you!
I'm an emotional support dog, is there a problem here?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Uber Tales

I picked up two riders about two months ago not far from the USC campus. I'd put them both early 20's let's say 21. The caucasian guy was 5'9'' and thickly built with a buzz cut. His buddy was a black guy with a slender build that topped out at 6'1'' and had light brown dreadlocks to the shoulder.

The exact moment they slid into my car I was engulfed in a fog of heavy marijuana fumes. My mind turned to the nostalgic as I remembered my days when I occasionally bumped up against those who partook in…ahem, weed…ahem.

"What's up fellas?" I ask.

"Not much how are you sir?" Dreadlocks asks.

"I'm good. Where're you guys headed?'

Buzz Cut pipes in, "We're only going like three fuckin' blocks." This was followed by his stoner's laugh.

"That's not true dude," Drealock adds. "It's more like three miles so there's like no way we could walk that shit," he giggles.

"Cool," I say and ease into traffic. They'd entered their destination through the Uber app and as it turned out they were going closer to three miles than three blocks. The lads exchanged low voiced anecdotes about 'this chick and that one' and 'this weed and that bud'. Giggling was in abundance as was plenty of back and forth insults which they found hilarious.

I joined in after one of Dreadlock's ridiculous ribs to his buddy. This caused them to relax and engage me in their conversation. Obviously my laughter appeased any thoughts they may have had about me being a narc or worse…a square.

We're only going like 3 blocks...
"…see dude even the fuckin' Uber dude thinks its funny."

At that point the three of us were close to belly laughing. I don't know if I was basking in memories of old or I was stoned due to proximity…a contact high if you will. Gradually the conversation moved from chicks and weed to booze. Things really got rolling when Buzz Cut offered Dreadlocks and I a powerful and heartfelt political theorem.

"Dude, straight up, if I was in Washington at the White House or whatever--"

"What do you mean 'or whatever' you're either in the White House or your not dumbass. How did you get into college anyway?" (more laughter)

"Shut up dude, let me finish. Ok so if I was in power I'd change the drinking age to like fuckin' 18."

"Why?" Dreadlocks asks.

I continuously checked Buzz Cut in my rearview mirror as it was hilarious to watch his face contort in an effort to focus on defending his thesis.

"Why? Because the drinking age of 21 is unsafe."

"Unsafe?" Dreadlocks and I say in unison…which brought more laughs.

"Yeah its totally unsafe. Look imagine like you're a kid and you're like 18 so ya pretty much have to get drunk because you're a kid who's 18, right?"

"Right," we agree in laughter.

"Right so you're 18 and drunk in public because ya can't stay home all the time--so you're drunk and funkin' 18--"

"We know dumbass-get to the unsafe part," Dreadlock pleads.

"I'm trying but you fuckin' guys keep interrupting me!"

I hadn't realized that I was a 'fuckin guy' that interrupts. By this time I had tears running down my cheeks; and I was happy that traffic was at a near standstill because I didn't want this 'high' to end. Plus I had to know about California's unsafe drinking age of 21 and over.

"Ok," he continues. "So, you're drunk and 18 and then a cop shows up and this kid is drunk so the cop is like 'dude, I'm not trying to be a dick but I've totally go to fuckin' arrest you…cause you're like 18 and fuckin' drunk and shit."
I'm not tyring to be a dick..

Dreadlocks and I lose it. Buzz Cut joins in the laughter but every now and again asks us 'what's so fuckin' funny?' until finally he says, "fuck you guys."

After the laughter subsides Dreadlocks asks, "Seriously dude, that is why the drinking age is unsafe? You're hilarious dude!"

"What? Driver, sorry, Mr. Driver you agree with me right? right?"

(**Mr. Driver)

"Yes, I agree, " I said. "The drinking age should be 18 otherwise a cop's totally going to fuckin' arrest you." I wasn't able to say the whole sentence without laughing. Nevertheless Buzz Cut jumped up and down in his seat shouting, "See! See!" Thesis defended!

Two minutes later I pulled to the curb. The two buddies remained in their seats. Finally, I let them know that we'd arrived at their destination.

"Oh, shit I forgot we were even going anywhere," says Buzz Cut. "I thought we were just fuckin' driving around with you--fuck."

With another huge round of laughs the two lads tumbled out of my car. I was still laughing as I eased back into traffic. For the previous 15 minutes I felt as though I was 21 years old and stoned with my two best friends. In that time I went from Uber Dude, to Fuckin' Guy, to finally, Mr. Driver. I slid into a Chevron station bought a bag of chips, leaned against my car and tore the bag open. I chcuckled from time to time at the memory of the ride. Half way through the chip bag I laughed a little heartier thinking that maybe I did have a contact high; for what does one do when one is stoned and gets the munchies?…he buys himself a bag of chips!