by Slo Mo
I am the legal guardian of an American dog, and as such I felt it my duty to honor his cultural heritage last weekend by inviting the entire universe to a 4th of July "Pups and Patriots" Soiree here at my cousin's house.
(Okay, so maybe I was bored and I wanted an excuse to throw a party, and I figured my cousin wouldn't be quite so mad if I told her it was for Dog. IS THAT SO WRONG?!?!?!?)
Keep in mind that my social contacts down here are relatively, uh, slim. So I decided to tell people that I know and also happen to like (which disqualifies about three quarters of the people I know) to tell their friends to come and join the festivities, too. It would be like a street party, I explained, but without the street. Or the city permit.
Meanwhile, Dog and I made an excursion to the wholesale party emporium to stock up on decorations and supplies. Now, I know what you're going to say: "Since when are mutts allowed to shop in stores?" And the correct answer is: "They're not." But it's also true that if you put a little orange safety vest on your dog and pin a fake sheriff's badge to it and tell people he's your CLIT (Canine Lieutenant In Training), well, they pretty much back off and let you do what you want. At least, that's been my experience.
Anyway, we came home with a crapload of party stuff, mainly thanks to Dog, who ran amok through some large displays and thus compelled me to purchase all the trampled merchandise so the store manager wouldn't phone the sheriff to complain that he'd seen rampaging CLIT in Aisle Three. (For pete's sake! What the hell am I going to do with a lifetime supply of star-spangled paper doilies? Not to mention those t-shirts that say "Spank Me, I Was Born On The 4th Of July" and that disco version of the American national anthem. But I digress...)
The next three days were a big, busy blur. I experienced a few panicky twinges over how many people might, potentially, show up at the house. But I was so busy hanging flags and marinating steaks and hiding the valuables that I told myself to cast those frivolous worries aside and focus on the real issues at hand, like whether or not my new Statue of Liberty costume made me look fat, and if sparklers could double as swizzle sticks. It certainly never occurred to me that when I said, "It's open house - come over whenever you like" some people would take that as an invitation to show up before noon...
Which is why I awoke at 10:00 a.m. on July 4th to the sound of doorbells ringing and dogs howling. Actually, it was just one doorbell (mine) but the howls were definitely in the plural category. What the hell??? I peered out my bedroom window to see who was in the driveway and sure enough, there it was - the big yellow Happy Hounds doggie day camp bus. Apparently, when I told the camp leaders about my little get-together and mentioned they should bring some friends, they thought I meant Dog's friends.
Oh, sweet jesus.
So in the end I didn't need to worry about lying to my cousin, because I really did have a "Pups & Patriots" soirée. Well, at least the "pups" part was true. Whatever humans (patriots or otherwise) showed up sure didn't stay long, and who could blame them? This was by far the wildest shindig I've ever attended, not because the events were terribly wild by human standards, but because these are dogs we're talking about. I expected much better from man's best friend.
It started off predictably enough. The steaks and burgers were gone in half an hour (thanks to a particularly clever German Shepherd who knew how to open the fridge), and so was the hammock, which was apparently mistaken for a chew toy. No one wanted to amuse themselves with a game of fetch or tug or catch, because I guess those are the sorts of things these dogs can do any day of the week, and any way it's much more fun to use the kitchen counters as an agility course and pee all over the bathtub. But these novelties soon wore off, and they turned their attention to the kegs of beer. Just my luck - some industrious Jack Russell terriers had figured out how to work the spigots.
Imagine, if you will, twenty-three drunken dogs on the loose in your living room. Then picture four Happy Hound camp counselors lounging on the bus with a deck of cards. That summed up the state of MY union on this fine 4th of July.
In case you haven't already guessed, the sex and drugs came directly after the beer. I don't know who exactly was responsible, although my suspicions are centered on a pair of demented miniature Schnauzers who should probably be destroyed before they destroy us, but anyway all I know is that I went outside to referee a huge dogfight that was raging in the pool and when I came back the entire contents of my lingerie drawer had been dumped on the floor, there was a chewed-open bottle of cough syrup on the night table, and Dog was on my bed with a bevy of cute, hairy young things (not all of which were female, I might add), blissfully dazed and humping away to his heart's content while the aforementioned Schnauzers-from-hell rifled through my cousin's medicine cabinet.
And the worst part? The VERY worst part? A Great Dane was wearing my Statue of Liberty costume... and he looked better in it than I did.
I'm pretty sure it was my neighbor, Mrs. Iva Bollock, who eventually phoned the police. She probably did it out of spite because she wasn't invited, but I'm grateful to her anyway. If the cops hadn't shown up, I don't know how I would have managed to stop those Greyhounds from murdering any more neighborhood cats. And the furniture-tossing competition had gotten way out of hand.
So the Happy Hound counselors were forced, by police order, to halt their game of strip poker and help me herd all four-legged Dionysian monsters onto the bus, which wasn't easy when you consider that most of the pooches had to puke beer and cough syrup. But police orders prevailed (the bull horns sure helped) and we managed to get them on their way. When the big yellow camp-mobile finally disappeared around the corner and all was quiet, I paused and took a good look around.
Despite the thoroughly depressing sight of my cousin's trashed house and the fact that there were still half a dozen squad cars on the front lawn, I also saw what Americans find so beautiful and moving about this particular holiday. Flags waving in the breeze and brotherly love and children with sparklers and the sweet, distant sound of a hundred voices singing God Bless America as fireworks light up the horizon...
And that's how this Independence Day story should end - on a happy, peaceful, uplifting note. Except for one small thing: the cops wanted to know why Dog was wearing a fake sheriff's badge. Apparently, it's a federal crime to impersonate a CLIT.