Year of the Dawg (#212)

It’s Chinese New Year, and it’s also my third blogoversary! I bet y’all think I’m gonna do an uplifting or informational post about the Year of the Dog today, right?

Nope. Today I’m gonna talk about just how much a new mattress can improve your life.


When my Chinese-American husband and I didn’t get pregnant on the first try, I consulted my Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister. She told me not to worry and gave me her foolproof method for getting pregnant.

When I got off the phone, Andy said, “Well? Well?!”

“It’s kind of a lot of work,” I warned him. I took a deep breath and said, “We’re supposed to have sex every other day.”

“What?” Andy breathed. “Sex every other day?”

“That’s what Dr. Sis says,” I told him. “Every other day for 10 days after I finish my period.”

“Making a baby is awesome!” Andy shouted. After he calmed down, though, he groaned and said, “Time to get that new mattress.”

We’d been putting off the new mattress because we knew we needed an expensive one. The need for an expensive mattress was Andy’s fault. While the man was a perfect husband in many ways – good person, good job, good sense of humor, good cook, good around the house – his physical form was riddled with design flaws. He had retinas that were prone to tearing. Same with his meniscus – in both knees. He had infection-induced asthma. A cyst in his heel. His hearing isn’t that great either, although I suspect that might be by choice, especially when he ostensibly slept through my screaming, “Get up! The dog is puking!” at 2 AM.

Worst of all, Andy had recently learned he had compressed discs in his back. Physical therapy could only do so much. The doctor told him to get a really, really good mattress. Do you know how much a top-of-the-line mattress costs? It costs at least two mortgage payments. My Chinese-American husband is very frugal, especially about luxuries he can’t truly enjoy because he’s unconscious. He balked, opting to sigh and groan and moan about his aching back.

As soon as Andy learned there would be loads of conscious fun time on a mattress, he picked out the most expensive one. He called daily to see when it would be delivered. The day it arrived, Andy came home early and we got busy…

Only to be interrupted by the doorbell. The dogs went nuts.

We dove under the covers.

“They’ll go away,” Andy said. “Let’s pretend we’re not home.”

The doorbell stopped – and pounding on the door began. “Autumn? Autumn! Did you get something delivered? I saw a truck!”

It was our neighbor, Gin. Gin was one of the original owners in our neighborhood. She was a widow who’d raised five kids on the block, now lived alone, and was pushing ninety. Gin charged across the street when she saw me gardening, thrilled to have a new neighbor that hadn’t lived or heard all her stories:

“You know that gurneys and wheelchairs won’t fit into these little houses, right? When my husband died, I told the paramedics to stay outside, then I wrapped him up in a sheet and they carried him out that way.”

“I was one of the first people to visit China after Nixon! And I have a cheongsam from Hong Kong, too – did you know they have a polo club there?”

Gin was a bit of a hoarder, but she was also a giver. She’d pop over with a Halloween house flag “to match your black cats” or gorgeous glass Christmas ornaments “because I saw your tree in the window and it looked so pretty!”

Gin’s paperweights.

Once she learned I had a paperweight collection, she gave me two more.

She had advice on the summer fungus that attacked my roses.

Andy helped her when she struggled with her trashcans, even though he complained that she’d trap him with her stories for hours. He decided to share the joy, and sent the guys who investigated him annually (for his top secret security clearance) over to interview Gin.

One of them came to our house afterwards and said, “Ha, ha, do you have any real neighbors that I can interview in under two hours?”

Since I worked from home and often brought her baked goods, Gin got in the habit of popping by whenever she felt like it. I’d been raised to be a good hostess NO MATTER WHAT, which meant I probably made Gin feel a little too welcome, too regularly. It never occurred to her that I might be working on a book – or a baby.

Gin kept hollering. “Autumn! Are you in the backyard?! Hello!”

Andy whispered, “How long before she goes away?”

I giggled. “She’s not going away.”

“What? Never?!”

“Nope. She can see our car, she can hear the dogs, she knows we’re home.”

“We’re doomed,” Andy moaned.

“Autumn! Autumn!” called Gin. “Where are you?”

Andy sighed. “I guess you’d better go answer the door.”

“Or…YOU could answer it! And solve a little problem for me,” I said, a brilliant realization dawning.

Andy answered the door in his bathrobe. As Gin’s jaw dropped, Andy explained that yes, a truck had come — with a brand new mattress. “Autumn is a little busy right now. But I’m sure she’ll see you soon and tell you how well the new mattress works.”

Gin went home without saying a word.

The next day, I brought her some cookies and started to apologize.

She cut me off. “Oh, no, Autumn, no, I am so sorry! I had no idea. It’s been a long time, and I think I’d forgotten what it was like to be a young married couple. But then I saw your husband in his robe and my!” Gin trailed off, fanning herself. She gave me a grin and said, “What is it you young people say? Andy is quite the sly dawg, isn’t he?”

I agreed. Later, I saw Gin chatting with a few other neighbors. Word got around. Andy and I got a few snickers questions about our new “mattress.”

In the Chinese Zodiac, Andy was born in the Year of the Dog, which starts today with the new moon. Andy even embodies the very best attributes of the Dog; he’s honest, faithful, smart, and has a strong sense of responsibility.

But in my neighborhood? Andy is the Dawg.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

35 thoughts on “Year of the Dawg (#212)”

    1. OMG, I just about choked on my coffee when your comment popped up. Still chortling.

      It’s good that your sense of humor is marvelously intact post-breakup.

      I am sure you will have sex again and it will be so awesome that the Melville Cat will write a post complaining about the loud noises from the humans. Ray was a fool.

      1. I’m sure he’s already sorry because he has a new girlfriend now and I’m sure he knows there’s no way to prevent her from reading my blog. Did I just type that? I really hope Ray doesn’t secretly read West Dates East.

        1. Of course he has a new girlfriend already, that’s what guys do. (Please visualize the ANGRY face that WordPress won’t let me insert.) Do you know this girlfriend? Do you know if she knows that you know about her? I’m sorry, it hurts so much when we give our heart and they toss it away like it’s nothing and find a replacement so quickly it’s like we were just an impersonal part in the machinery of their life.

            1. My ex’s new girlfriend used to read my blog. He told me. I didn’t know what to say. But I got over it. I mean, I’m not gonna change who I am or what I say, right? I was amused that she cared. Sooner or later, they’ll move on.

              And whether you have sex or not again is up to you Heather 😉 xxoo

                1. I think the older you get, the harder it is to go through the whole dating thing again, let alone sex. I told Andy if anything happens to him, I’m done. First, would be hard to find someone who could cook and dance and laugh at my jokes. But even with all that, marriage is hard. Women do so much more emotional labor and planning, it’s exhausting. Add some stressor kids in there, and I get why so many women in their forties and fifties are just “done.” They get divorced and get to take care of their own needs instead of catering to their husband’s: “I do all the work, I should at least get some more closet space!” I’ve seen so much of this in my neighborhood recently. 🙁

                  1. Yeah, it’s hard to imagine going through all that again. A few weeks ago I downloaded Tinder, opened the app, saw the login screen, then immediately closed it and deleted the app. Not sure I can go there, now or ever.

  1. I feel like Gin might have walked out of a really well-written suburban comedy. Or maybe horror, who knows? Either way, I love that you send people over to her. Amazing story. Just…amazing. Happy Lunar New Year!

  2. I’m writing about a character who’s trying to get pregnant. I’ll have to suggest a new mattress and sex every other day for ten days after finishing her period. I think I was making it too complicated with finding her fertile days.

    Gin and all her stories is a writer’s dream, but maybe a bit of a neighbor’s nightmare, especially when you’re trying to get some writing done. I also would have a hard time getting rid of her.

    1. Fertile days can be tricky unless you have a regular cycle. Maybe she has a sister who regularly offers to help people get pregnant with a turkey baster. Like me.

      Do you have chatty neighbors?

  3. Haha, it sounded like Gin wasn’t offended at all being turned away by hot dawg Andy 😀 She probably wouldn’t mind seeing him in his bathrobe again. Hope that mattress was a good buy.

    The other day I came home and thought the house was empty. It was also a hot day, 30’C/86’F kind of weather, the kind of weather you can wear as less as you want without feeling cold. So I stripped down to just my shorts with nothing on top. Then all of a sudden my brother decides to pop his head in my room, with his annoying attention of giving me a fright without my knowledge. Never heard and seen him run so fast in his life. Had no idea he decided to pay me a visit 😀

  4. What a fun post! (I just don’t answer tne door so I can train people to understand that unexpected “pop-ins” aren’t overly welcome; Gin seemed to take the hint well though!) And congratulations on the anniversary.

  5. I was born in the Year of Dog too.

    Did you know that asking “What year of animal were you born?” Is the most polite way of asking someone’s age?

    At least, that’s what I do 🙂

  6. Haha, oh, I love that last line.

    So… how WAS the mattress? Was it worth the money? Did it make the activities even better? 😉

    Happy New Year!!! Xin Nian Kuai Le! Hope you and Andy have a fabulous year of the dog!

    1. The mattress is awesome. Every night, we snuggle down into that mattress and it is bliss. It’s very hard to find hotel mattresses that are as good. Maybe at the Kahala 4 star whatever hotel or the Ritz Carlton or Thornbury Castle. MAYBE.

  7. He he, that’s what happens to nosy neighbours. If she was younger I guess she would have texted you to say she was coming. Or maybe that only happens here, no one goes to some house unannounced.

    I also ask people what animal they are to guess their age, he he. Although if I haven’t seen their faces, like in Andy’s case, it’s not much use. Andy could be 36 or 84, for all I know xD

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