The Dangers Of Being Fit

I walk my dog a lot. It’s great exercise and since I’m constantly reading about how I’m going to die earlier rather than later or suffer from excess belly fat and lethargy if I don’t stay fit, I have decided to hedge my bets.  I’m not convinced my dog is happy about this.  I motor along at the speed of sound which is not conducive to letting him sniff every blade of grass or peeing 112 times in 45 minutes.  It is far from a leisurely stroll but there are only so many hours in a day and I’m a profuse multi-tasker.

So the other day as I was race-walking along with my possibly pissed off dog , basking in the glory of the magnificent, powerful Northern California coastline when something caught my eye. It was a sign placed just above a rocky cliff that dropped off into the roiling, crashing waves of the Pacific.  I have sped by it a zillion times before but never actually stopped to read it.  For some reason, at that very moment, I thought it proper to take the time to give it a closer look. After all,  someone took the time to put it there and maybe it’s something I need to know.


Hmmm.  Better read further because danger sounds pretty dangerous to me.

“The coastline is naturally dynamic….”

Oh. My. God. Really?!

“Crashing waves and crumbling cliffs….”

Okay, I can see that. It’s right in front of me and therefore, by default, obvious, right?

“Rocks are slippery…’

Yes, they certainly are!  They’re covered with green, slippery moss and slimy kelp and seaweed.

I read on….

blah, blah, blah something-something about “waves sweeping people off their feet”… yadda, yadda…”swept out to sea”…

And I start to go all cynical and laugh out loud at the absurdity of the warning. But then I remembered the importance of warnings. I mean, how else is one supposed to know they need to “STOP and remove frozen dinner from package” before placing it in the microwave? Or that you shouldn’t attempt to drive a back-hoe after taking a sleeping pill? Warnings are important, folks!  Im-port-ant!

But what about dangers for which there are no warning signs?

Like the unexpected ingestion of a flying insect?

Yeah, it sounds gnarly. I can assure you it is.

But it happens.

And it happened to me.

Just after I read the coastal warning. It was cosmic payback, I’m convinced.

It was also shocking and disgusting. Not to mention humiliating.  It happened in front of a busload of Korean tourists.  Perhaps they have a cultural aversion to seeing an otherwise respectable-looking woman hacking and spitting in public because they were clearly horrified. Mothers grabbed their children and fled for the safety of the tour bus.  Men covered their eyes, turned away jabbering in a language I couldn’t understand but the tone   was unmistakable disgust.

Doesn’t look like you can count on a Korean to come to your aid when you’re hacking up a   foreign object. Maybe the Heimlich is strictly an American thing?  I don’t know but  whatever the reason, don’t count on them in an emergency. That’s all I’m sayin’.

So I was on my own.  I had to rid my mouth of this winged interloper before it went any further….which it did.

I just had to, you know, swallow.

There!  I said it. I ate a bug with wings, okay?

The remainder of my walk-of-shame was spent looking at the ground, the brim of my baseball call pulled down on my forehead like a quasi-windshield.

And I altered my breathing.

In through the nose, out through the mouth, NOT the other way around. What was I thinking? Did I learn nothing in Bikram yoga?

IN through the nose. OUT through the mouth. IN through the nose. OUT through the mouth.

No need to thank me. Just don’t speed walk with your mouth open.







Defending Barney

Sometimes I retain some really useless information.  Stuff that only comes in handy if I’m gettin’ my nerd on with a rousing episode of Jeopardy.  Other times, what I’ve retained is useful.  Like personal responsibility and when I learned it as a kid.

Maybe I was about seven-ish or so?

We had these neighbors I’ll call the Stevensons.  That’s their real name.  No need to protect the innocent since they’ll probably never read this.  But if they do? I’m cool with that because I really don’t care.  I knew what was up and I’m proud to admit it.  That doesn’t mean I was smarter, mind you.  Anyone with a reasonable number brain cells and a nose knew what was up at Casa Stevenson.

They had a dog named Barney.

They also had a daughter called Jan who was big for her age, scary and really, really good at softball.  Jan may have actually been a boy who was just pissed that they gave him a confusingly feminine name but I can’t be sure.   [Don’t quote me on the Jan-could-have-been-a-boy thing. My memory has been compromised by things I choose not to mention here]

Anyway, Barney was a basset hound.  And that is something that I do remember very clearly because basset hounds are very memorable dogs and I only knew one family in my entire half century who ever had one.   Barney was a sweet dog but even as a kid I wondered what kind of Island-of-Dr.-Moreau breeding went into putting this poor animal together.  A dog who is eighteen inches high should not have 30-pound ears for fuck sake.

Sorry….odd anatomy gets me sidetracked….

Barney Stevenson’s  house smelled like farts pretty much all the time.

Fred, the dad, blamed Barney for the poor air quality in the house but he always delivered it in a Don Rickles kind of way. “You smell that?  Goddamn dog ate too much saurkraut for lunch”…gnut, gnut, gnut.

I knew, of course, that dogs did not eat saurkraurt for lunch.  My dad would smile politely at Fred’s “joke” even as we kids stampeeded toward the door.

Later when we got home?  I would hear my dad discreetly tell my mom that “Barney” was at it again. She understood the importance of speaking in code, after all she lived through wartime. No one spoke of such things louder than a whisper behind closed doors  in our house.  We did not fart.  E.V.E.R..  It was an unspeakable offense probably punishable by death but since no one ever did, all us kids remained alive.  We carried the fear with us, though, passing it [no pun] to our children around the eerie light of a campfire…second only in scariness to the man with a hook for a hand who terrorized campsites.

Yeah, poor Barney took the fall for his flatulent master but I learned a lot about blame and personal responsiblility because of it.

Thanks for the lesson, Fred Stevenson.  Wherever you are.




When Bad Things Happen To Good Dogs

First of all, I would like to thank my loyal and wonderful human friend for coming to my rescue at 1:00 am Monday night.  During a crisis, it helps to have someone who is a) always there for you and b) single – so getting a call in the wee hours from a friend whose dog is having a seizure and the Ambien she took 3 hours ago has rendered her unable to operate a motorized vehicle doesn’t result in relationship conflict.

Thank you single friend.  Please don’t change.

Okay…that’s selfish.  Feel free to seek a suitable partner but make sure he loves dogs. 

And me. 

And shocking late night calls that jolt you from dreamland and  make you think someone is dead.

My dog is fine.  Thank goodness.  Canine seizures suck! (as if I actually needed to say that)

As for my friendship….well….

Do you still love me?

Oh, pashaw!!  I know you do!

Pissed Or Happy? You Be The Judge.

carmel-movie-set-139As if it’s not enough that I’m cursed with the affliction of  always trying to figure people out, my dog has joined the ranks of the confusing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this guy with all my heart and soul but I fear he has somehow acquired that oh-so-human quality of keeping me guessing. 

How does he do that?

Is he smiling?

Is he pissed off  about the fact that he has to be put on that same bland diet his brother is on to keep him from getting kidney stones? 

For the love of God!  WHICH IS IT?

I’m suddenly reminded of one of my all-time favorite movie lines.  It’s from The Upside of Anger with Kevin Costner.  It comes from his boss who is frustrated with his behavior.


I know you too well and it’s a burden

But in this case (and a few others of late, I might add) I feel this way.


Damn. I thought I knew ‘ya.

Alright, already!  I’ll get you some tastier food!