The holidays are over. Brace yourselves. Back to my Chinese-American in-laws!
I never imagined the dogs would be a problem. I mean, Sunny and Jay had a small dog named Biscuit.
I was cautious,though, because my dogs are large and my in-laws weren’t young. The dogs weren’t allowed to meet the in-laws until after Sunny and Jay toured the house and sat down. Then I let the dogs in.
Woofie made a beeline for Jay. He sat next to Jay’s chair, big head tilted back, brown eyes begging for petting.
Jay yelled, “Aiiieee!” and turned his back to Woofie.
Sunny said, “Oh, no, Jay doesn’t like dogs.”
I gaped, then said, “But…but…you have a dog?!” I gave my husband a WTF look.
Andy shot back the inevitable “yes-they-are-my-parents-but-they-are-also-impossible-so-I-have-no-explanation” look.
Sunny said, “That dog is too big.”
Woofie, our ninety-pound, would-be lap dog, disagreed. He thought he was just the right size for love. Woofie ran to the other side of the chair, sticking his big face in Jay’s face. Jay screamed and spun back to his original position. Woofie followed.
I grabbed Woofie’s collar and dragged him outside. He howled in protest. Our good dog Fey spread out across the entire dog bed in the office, looking smug.
Woofie ate Andy’s sandals while we revised dog/ in-law sleeping arrangements.
Normally, the dogs slept in the second bedroom. They had a lovely dog bed there, though Woofie always snuck up on the futon at midnight. When we had visitors, the visitors got the futon. Fey and Woofie happily slept in the office, on their other bed.
I explained this to Jay, wrapping up with, “And since the bathroom is just down the hall from your bedroom, before you reach the office, you should be able to use it at night without running into the dogs.”
Jay, the ever-accommodating patriarch, said, “No.”
Jay insisted that his preferred bathroom was the one on the other side of the house, beyond the office and the kitchen. To get to it, he would have to walk through the office with the dogs. Walking by the dogs was unacceptable.
My debutante mother pounded proper hostessing into my head along with the proper use of a two-pronged fork (snails or prosciutto). A good hostess makes her guests feel welcome. She sees to their needs without complaint.
So this good hostess moved the office doggie bed to the front hall.
12:30 AM: Andy is asleep before I even take off my glasses (I’m so nearsighted that I can’t see a thing without glasses or contacts). No sooner are glasses off than my father-in-law yells: “Ahhh, ahhh!”
Don glasses, jump out of bed. Discover Woofie in hallway, staring soulfully at Jay — both want to get past each other (Woofie for futon, Jay for bathroom). I escort Woofie back to bed in front hall. Fey whines.
1 AM: Glasses off. Drifting off when Fey’s whining increases to a fever pitch. Dog tags jingle. On go the glasses. I’m up again. I let dogs out. Fey heads right to her designated toilet area, taking care of business (or so I think). Back to bed with all of us. Glasses off.
1:30 AM: TV blares from in-laws’ room. Jay yells that there is a problem with the remote. Glasses on. I can’t figure out how to fix remote, call in reinforcements (i.e., punch Andy in shoulder till he gets up). Andy fixes remote. Dogs come to investigate. Andy send them back to their bed. Fey whines, Andy comes back to bed. Fey used to whine when we left the futon/ guest/ TV room for the night; Andy thinks it’s just because she’s not in her usual sleeping place.
Andy is wrong.
1:45 AM: Dog tags jingle. I have a bad feeling about this. I send Andy to investigate and hear, “Oh, Fey! Oh, shit!” Glasses on, I’m up, and we clean up Fey’s lower intestinal explosion (which wiped out two carpets in the study). At least Fey is no longer whining.
2:00 AM: As Andy and I stagger back bed, Sunny blocks the hallway. “Too much work!” she scolds us. She thinks the dogs do this every night. We’re too tired to argue. Back to bed.
2:15 AM: Sunny bangs on our door: “House stinks like dog poop!” Get up, find glasses, open windows, and turn on fans.
2:40 AM: Jay bangs on door: “House too cold!” I get up. Try and reset thermostat without glasses. Fail. Get glasses. Turn on heat. Shudder at the thought of the gas bill this month.
3:00 AM: Dog tags wake me from light doze. On with the glasses and out of the bed, hoping to forestall second intestinal explosion. Find Woofie and Jay in another Mexican standoff in the hallway.
Jay is beyond fear. He’s lecturing my dog: “It is not your room! It is not your bed! It is my bed. You go back to your bed. On the floor. Go!” Woofie whines. I escort him back to his bed. Fey farts. Woofie bolts for the back door. I let him outside, thinking he needs to pee.
Instead, he climbs into “his” wicker chair. 50 degrees is preferable to Fey’s continuing explosive gas. Go back to bed, leaving Woofie outside.
4:00 AM: More jingling dog tags. Get glasses, glare at snoring husband, investigate. Fey is on forbidden living room rug, looking guilty. No sign of what might have triggered guilt. Woofie whines at door. I let him in. Both dogs settle on their bed. I climb in bed. With glasses. Am sure I will be up in seconds.
4-6:00 AM: Manage to doze to melodious sound of guest futon making weird squeaking noises. Scared to speculate on in-law activities. Squeak ends with loud thump. A dog whines. Give up and get up.
6:00 AM: Let out dogs and feed them. Discover that Jay and Sunny don’t like futon, have put their mattress on the floor. Feel stabs of hostess guilt. Scold self repeatedly for not having provided more comfortable bed for guests. Then remember that Andy sold my comfy queen bed without permission at garage sale. It’s all his fault.
Mother-in-law advises me that sleeping in glasses has put a mark on my face and will give me more wrinkles.
Yes, “MORE.” I wasn’t aware I had ANY.
Am briefly GLAD husband sold the comfy bed.
6:15 AM: Mother-in-law’s bare foot finds Fey’s missing piddle puddle on $$$ living room carpet. Thank mother-in-law for being so helpful. Get out carpet cleaner again.
7:00 AM: Walk dogs. Squirrel with death wish darts in front of us. Dogs lunge. I trip. Get dragged over tree roots. Rip pants, cut hands. Spend the rest of the walk telling dogs they are banished to the backyard forever. They hang their heads as I finish lecture by calling them evil creatures, leaving them on patio.
8:00 AM: Jay declares that our dogs are not evil. He lets Woofie inside, pats his head. He decrees that dogs may now sleep on bed in office, insists I move dog bed back into office immediately. I comply.
Woofie settles on his dog bed with a sigh. He ignores my in-laws, sleeps for six hours.