Friday, November 25, 2011

Three Dogs and a Sore Right Bum Cheek

It's the morning after Thanksgiving, so naturally I'm sitting at my computer eating a turkey sandwich for breakfast. Some of you may be protesting, but why not pumpkin pie? You seem like the type that would eat pumpkin pie for breakfast. Um, yeah, I am the type. Only I started eating pie Wednesday night at our pie party, and then again for breakfast on Thursday morning, and then another little taste once the turkey dinner was over. So at this point I don't think I can look a slice of pie in the face until next Thanksgiving.

My family agrees on the point that it ruins the holiday to starve yourself all day long and then attempt one enormous meal. That's no way to live. While that approach might prevent overeating (blah, blah, blah) it certainly doesn't account for a house full of hungry, grumpy people. So my family has embraced the opposite view and interprets Thanksgiving as an opportunity to feast all day. My husband calls it "priming his stomach." So what began with pumpkin pie for breakfast rapidly evolved into homemade spinach dip for second breakfast, bagels and fruit for brunch, and pizza for lunch. That's right. My family ordered pizza on Thanksgiving day. 

I'd like to interject a few thoughts on ordering pizza on major holidays. I highly recommend it. If pizza were a substitution for the main dinner it might be depressing, but as a festive appetizer it was awesome. We had to call four or five different places to find someone open on Thanksgiving day. I found that a little annoying because I happen to know there are millions of American transplants living in our country who don't observe our national holidays and why so few of them are selling pizza on Thanksgiving and Christmas is beyond me. If I were from Thailand, that would be my business plan. Anyway, our rigorous dining schedule left me glowing with family pride and a sense that in our own way, we're totally hardcore. By noon I was so full I felt sick. 

But there is nothing like a brisk jog to help settle the pumpkin pie, spinach dip, fruit, bagels and pizza in your stomach. When I asked my dad if he wanted to run with me he said yes, only he needed a half hour to let his pizza digest. Thirty minutes later I found him on the couch eating an ice cream bar. Dad, I snapped. You were supposed to be letting your food digest. He looked guilty and I relished the self-righteousness of having passed on the ice cream. Sometimes my self-discipline amazes me. 

Our Thanksgiving run will be a memory that stays with me forever. Only not the good kind and it all started with the dogs. I don't know when my parents became these crazy dog people, but it's getting worse as they age. Right now they have a Chihuahua, a Jack Russell terrier, and a German Shepherd puppy. My dad thought it a good idea to take all three dogs running with us. Put them all on a leash, my step-mom warned. My dad scoffed and it was determined that the Chihuahua did not need a leash. She is small and vulnerable, and he felt certain she would stay with us. Right. 

We were fifty feet from the house when the Chihuahua started to wander away. The sound of my dad hollering for her to catch up became a type of percussion that would stay with us for the rest of the run. We were a hundred feet from the house when I realized my backside was in bad shape. I fell down the basement stairs a few days ago, like really, really fell down the stairs in a way that caused my sisters to check me in case we needed to go to the hospital. It's a good thing I have a nice back porch because my fall could've been a lot worse, and as it is there is a black bruise the size of a softball on my right curvy bit. I winced with every stride and concentrated all my efforts in staying away from my dad and the dogs. 

To complicate the process, it's a difficult thing to maintain a steady trot when you have two dogs intent on knocking each other over. At one point the German Shepherd ended up on her back and I watched my dad drag her across the grass for a good four paces before the stupid dog managed to regain her footing. There were a few people out in their front yards and I could see them watching us, confused and mildly disgusted. The presence of humans made me nervous. One of the other pieces of sage advice offered by my step-mom was to bring poop bags along. We'll be fine, my dad said, evidently prepared to ignore all of her advice. We're not going too far. Right. 

The terrier stopped about every ten houses to dribble poop in someone's yard and I was dying. If I could have sprinted ahead and left my dad with his three crazy dogs I would have. Except I was gimping along with my right sore bum cheek trying to act like it was a splendid day for a run (it was freezing outside), I felt marvelous (my rear end hurt and I felt like puking up the spinach dip) and I was enjoying the time alone with my dad (the whole scene was appalling). 

After about ten or fifteen minutes my dad noticed my slightly slower pace and called over his shoulder, We can stop and walk if you need to? I frowned. Are you telling me you need to stop and walk? I asked. Of course not, he said, but if you need to walk we can. I picked up my pace. The entire foundation of our family culture is built on casual mind games and friendly competition. I wouldn't have asked to stop and walk if I'd been running on two bloody stumps. And there was no way I was going to allow Mister Haagen-Dazs to out run me. I pushed harder. One of the benefits of the brisk wintry air was that my right cheek was finally numb enough to relieve my discomfort. 

As if we weren't having enough fun already my dad decided we should finish our run on the golf course and take all the dogs off their leashes. And so I limped to the back door with a muddy German Shepherd puppy in tow and dog poop caked in the soles of my running shoes. Now this is what I call a good ol' fashioned family holiday!

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