Saturday, April 24, 2004

I generally prefer dogs over people. Unfortunately, the fate of one is intertwined with the other, and we end up in royal messes like this one.

We work with an L.A. dog rescue agency called Lhasa Happy Homes. The owner, Randee, bails small dogs (of any breed) out of animal shelters, paying a fee, gets them whatever medical care they need, paying vets out of her own pocket, and then places them with fosters who care for the dog until a permanent home can be found.

Randee takes out ads in the L.A. Times and holds adoption events, and places photographs and life histories of the dogs she's rescued on her website. All of this activity costs money (by the time a dog has been put up for adoption, Randee's invested from $50-1000 in it), and there's a big emotional investment as well. No dog is "just a dog" to Randee. It's her dog, both legally and emotionally. She doesn't adopt it out to just anyone.

So, enter Sherlock. Sherlock is a great dog, a Lhasa Apso, God only knows why he ended up in an animal shelter. Randee rescued him and placed with a brand new foster. The foster took Sherlock to her art class and a fellow student asked to "borrow" Sherlock for a day to see if she wanted to adopt him.

Long story short, after a few days the borrower refused to return Sherlock. She refused to fill out an adoption application. She simply kept the dog and would not give him back. Randee's dog.

So now, as I type these words, Randee and my wife Julie and the Los Angeles Police Department are at the woman's house. I just now got a call that they were getting Sherlock back and the woman could be going to jail.

I don't care if the woman "loves" Sherlock. I don't care if she'd have been a perfect adopter. You don't steal someone else's dog, end of story.

People. You'd think we could all get along simply by following a few basic rules, but no-o-o-o-o. We have to make it hard.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Welcome to a new feature: J. Knight's Good News for Consumers!

First, just when I thought that soft drink packaging had reached an evolutionary plateau, the Coca-Cola company released its new "Fridge Pack." This box is dynamite in cardboard! Twelve cans, six on top of six, rest in a long, narrow box that opens on the end and dispenses one can at a time. No more tedious wrestling of cans out of plastic dolphin-killing nets! (I don't remember how these plastic doohickeys were killing dolphins, and it may have been some other animal, but I do know that if my wife caught me throwing one away without shredding it with scissors, there was hell to pay.) You just rip the end off this box and set it in the fridge. You don't have to offload the cargo.

I predict a 2% rise in productivity due exclusively to this incredible box. Way to go, Coke!

And there was a second piece of good news this week. Sadly, an AIDS scare has shut down the porn industry, 80% of which is located in the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles. Production has come to an absolute standstill for at least two months while actors are checked and double-checked for AIDS. But the good news is: According to the radio, the studios have stockpiled enough porno films to last into September! Yes, thanks to forward thinking on the part of the adult film industry, we can safely consume porn at pre-crisis levels for at least another four months! If only our energy resources were so wisely managed....

And that's this week's Good News for Consumers. Thank you and have a profligate weekend.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Here's how it goes:

Julie has this weekly job creating floral arrangements for the California Yacht Club.

She used to specialize in dried flowers, also known as "dead flowers." The problem was, dead is dead and the arrangements looked about as good six months later as when they were delivered. Fresh flowers are great because they die in a week and look like hell and people have to buy more.

She got a special order from the Yacht Club for Easter. They needed four enormous arrangements and a couple dozen bud vases with roses. The big arrangements were so huge that they wouldn't fit in the car, so I drove the flowers to the Yacht Club in the back of our pickup truck and Julie brought the enormous glass vases they'd go into, the ones she'd purchased downtown a few days before. I stayed to "help" Julie with the assembly operation.

Ha ha ha! (Sorry, but the words "I" and "help" together just make me laugh.)

My first job was to carry flowers from the truck to the Club, and I must say, a trained Teamster couldn't have handled it any better. Julie was so impressed, she gave me an on-the-spot promotion to Vase Filler. She handed me one of the tall $60 vases and I succeeded admirably in carrying it to the supply closet with absolutely no incident whatsoever.

The problem came when I set the vase on the cement floor in front of the sink. I was wearing my bifocal reading glasses, and that effect happened like when you look at a stick in the water and it seems really close but it isn't, only in this case the floor looked to be about an inch further away than it was.

In any contest between glass and cement, cement wins. I mean, every single damned time. Allowances are not made for good persons who are kindly helping out their wives. The vase hit the floor and there was a "chink" sound and when I looked down, a third of the base of the vase was missing. Well, not missing, because it was still there after a fashion, the way a frog is still there after a Mack truck runs over it.

One of the things that strikes me as grossly unfair about life is that there's no rewind button. Okay, I can see how it would get tedious if everybody could rewing their life all the time. We'd never get anywhere. But jeez, couldn't you get to hit "rewind" every once in awhile? If you could, I'd have been mashing that button, let me tell you.

Julie was frantically doing frantic things to get every arrangement together and in place before the Club opened at 11:00 a.m., and her incompetent klutz of a husband had just broken 25% of the irreplaceable vases. There is only one thing for me to do: I have to fake my death and fly to Bolivia and live the rest of my life under an assumed name.

I'm on my way to the airport when I pass Julie outside the Club. She smiles at me. She doesn't know that I've just Ruined Everything. Before I can come up with something sensible to say, like--"I'm not really your husband. Your real husband has been kidnapped and replaced by me, an experimental robot. The experiment was a failure. I'm going back to the lab now. I'll send your husband back with the truck. Sorry for the inconvenience."--I hear the words gushing from my mouth: "I broke the vase."

There are many, many times when I'm glad Julie doesn't possess supernatural powers. If she did, the sky would have gone black with thunderheads and a lightning bolt would have fried me into a crackling pile of gristle.

"I'm sorry," I say. My words have the same impact on Julie that a penny has on a speeding locomotive. I wonder if she's wishing she could rewind life. I wonder how far back she'd go...to the moment when she handed me the vase? Or all the way back to the first time we met, so she could run the other way? Or would she burst into my mother and father's bedroom on the night I was conceived and douse them with a bucket of cold water?

She speaks. "Go home," she says evenly, like the Terminator. "Get one of the tall, round vases from the garage. You'll have to wash it out. Don't break it." I nod and leave. As I'm backing the truck out of the parking space, Julie runs up, waving her hands.

"It's okay," she says. "It'll still stand up. We can cover up the broken base with a napkin. Come on."

We get everything set up ten minutes before the Club starts serving Easter Brunch. The flowers look gorgeous. I haven't broken anything else. All is well.

The thing is, some people never learn. Despite all that happened, I'm sure that Julie will...probably one day soon...again put something made of glass in my hands. I don't know. Maybe she's hopeless.

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