Sunday, August 22, 2004

The original Anti-Monster was my dog Max. I was thinking about the little kid Carter (see 7/31 entry) and my way of scaring off his imaginary demons, and realized where I got that idea -- from my golden retriever.

In the age-old debate of dogs vs. cats, one argument you could make against pooches is that they need to be walked all the time. But I didn’t mind that much; I often enjoyed my evening constitutionals through the neighborhood with Max.

But when I was busy or tired or lazy, I could just let him go in the fenced-in backyard. Let him roam around, go in the pool, pee in the bushes, dig up the yard, whatever. He liked it.

And then there were times he didn’t like it. I’d open the door to let him out and he’d just look up at me.

“There ya go, Max,” I’d say. “The great outdoors.”

And he’d say, “Yeah, I don’t really feel like it right now.”

Of course, he didn’t actually talk, but I think that’s what he would say if he could. Either that or, “Yo, Two-Legs. Enough of this Alpo crap. Make with the T-bone.”

“Max, go outside now,” I’d say. “In ten minutes, you’re gonna bug me that you need to go, and I’m gonna be busy doing my homework.”

“Bullshit, flat-face. You’ll be chattin’ up some chippie on the phone, or sittin’ on the couch with the remote. I’m gonna have to wag my tail in front of the TV just to get noticed.”

Okay, I’m gonna stop personifying my dog. It’s creeping me out.

I needed to get Max outside so he could just leave me alone for a while. But I couldn’t just force him out the door; I had to convince him that it was what he wanted to do.

An’ dat, my friends, would require a li'l stragety.

I leaned in and whispered, “Hey, Max, do you see what’s out there?” He looked out the screen door. “There are things out there. Bad, bad things.”

Now he was curious. And I kept going. “You gotta get those things out there. That’s your job. No one else can do it. But you can, Max.” I started raising my voice, talking through clenched teeth. “You gotta get ‘em, boy.”

Now maybe Max couldn’t speak, but don’t tell me he didn’t understand. He comprehended every word. I could see the hair on the scruff of his neck stand on end, his floppy ears all perked up.

I wasn’t able to convince Carter that there weren’t monsters in the backyard, but at least I got my dog think that there were. But not to scare him. Max was the Anti-Monster. And I was his coach, getting him ready for the big showdown.

“Are you ready?! You gonna get those things?! You gonna get ‘em?!”

Max was twitching, raring to go, chomping at the bit. A racehorse at the starting gate.

“GO GET ‘EM!!” I swung open the door --

Max charged outside, barking rabidly, “RAWRAWRRAWRRAR!”

What was he going after? Who knows -- squirrels? Birds? Earthworms? Boogiemen?

Didn’t matter. I got him out of the house, and he kept barking... until he heard the screen door close. Then he looked back, and I swear his face turned into a giant lollipop. Written across his forehead was the word, “SUCKER”. Cue the trombone: Mwahh-mwahhh.

I closed the main door and let the Anti-Monster do his thing outside. Inside, I went to the living room to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Ain’t I a stinker?


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