Some mornings, I know right away. The drift is already sideways by the time my bare heel finds the belt buckle on the floor beside the bed.
When your first word of the day is an expletive, and you must then check for bleeding, it is a sign.
All my silly human plans are about to be derailed. Embrace the suckage, for it is nigh.
Chances are Bob Johnson has done something unfortunate.
Bob Johnson is a yellow Lab mutt. Everyone who meets Bob Johnson says the same thing: Look, he’s smiling!
They are correct. He is smiling because he has done something, or will soon do something, that will cost me a significant sum of money, hours of manual labor, or both.
When I wake up, I want to eat a couple pieces of fruit, drink several cups of coffee and zone out for a few minutes. Maybe I’ll look at The New York Times. Maybe, if I’m feeling super-duper, I’ll listen to the radio dialed down to a murmur. Before I’ve had a chance to properly realign myself with the world, I have a very low threshold for chaos.
Yet it’s usually first thing in the morning when I find the evidence of Bob Johnson’s latest Project of Incredible Fun, which I must then reverse engineer, like the huge hole in the flower bed, obviously the start of a tunnel to the other side of the world.
Any object that has not been chewed, splintered, crushed, smashed, ripped to pieces and strewn across the yard has simply not been located yet.
Bob Johnson is smart. He carries out his demolition projects while I’m asleep or away from home. I know he’s guilty, but I can’t prove it. He trots along beside me as I inspect the damage, smiling his famous smile.
Disciplinary sessions consist of me yelling at Bob Johnson, then feeling bad about it and giving him a Pup-Peroni. (I also cover my eyes during the gross-out parts of movies. I am not a tough guy, and Bob Johnson figured this out very quickly.)
This morning I discovered Bob Johnson had – well, it doesn’t matter. You get the point.
It’s 45 degrees at 7 AM and I’m stacking cinderblocks in the rain. It’s at times like these – reverse engineering the work of a canine mastermind – when I feel my progress as an autonomous, rational being come to a full stop.
The world is a cold, wet place, a gulag of senseless toil, I think. I have a ridiculous beard. My dog is smarter than I am.
By the time I finish the reconstruction job and give Bob Johnson his Pup-Peroni, I’m starving. I eat a banana and feel about .05 percent better. I boil some water for coffee and scan the headlines in The New York Times.
Embrace the suckage. That should be the Times’ new motto. Cholera and exploding jet engines. Rich people still have most of the money, good. Politicians are talking, fine.
Then I click over to the arts section and read a few things. I read all the negative reviews. Here’s a bad review of a play that just opened. It’s a real show-killer, this review. The reviewer shows little mercy for the performance he’s witnessed. It concludes with a snarky laugh at the expense of, well, anyone remotely connected to the play.
Dead leaves shoot by the window like brown birds. The wind rumbles. The turbid ebb and flow of misery, and no pancakes.
While the coffee drips, I check my phone. I have a text message. It’s not even eight o’clock yet, so it must be important, some fresh disaster …
Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules!
One minute you’re ready for Death to show up with his chessboard, and the next you’re on IMDb, looking for the perfect quote from The Big Lebowski.
That rug really tied the room together, I text back.
And that’s all it takes. My morning has been restored. The world is once again a land of dreams, so various, beautiful and new.
I read on with Walter, Donny and The Dude.
I eat an apple. It tastes great.