It was all because of a dog

Some love stories begin with chance meetings, glances across the room, or even horrible blind dates that actually work out.

There’s conflict, fights, breaking up, making up, drama – all that great stuff Danielle Steele writes about in romance novels.

Maybe I should feel like something is wrong, because we celebrated our 12th anniversary on Tuesday, and we haven’t had any of that.

But our unconventional story began with the goddess of love herself, Venus.

Venus, the German shepherd, probably didn’t intend to play Cupid – or maybe she did.

I am pretty sure she felt like she orchestrated our whole relationship.

She was our unintentional yenta, after all, escaping from her kennel at Lamar’s mother’s house while she was supposed to be dog-sitting while Lamar was out of town working.

The dog ran wild for a week.

I was the one who rounded her up a couple of days before Lamar came home to get her.

I am not one to believe in love at first sight. Unless there is a dog involved, and then, it is empirically possible.

I fell in love with this dog the minute I saw her, scratching her ears and letting her lick my hand through the gate as I put her back in her kennel.

I didn’t know who her owner was, but I knew somehow, that dog was supposed to be mine.

Lamar showed up at his mother’s Estee Lauder counter a few days later, not too happy she had lied to him about his dog.

I was at my Clinique counter, telling a friend about a new cream eyeshadow.

“Gotta go, cute guy at Lauder,” I said, hanging up the phone.

Lamar has said he knew then he wanted to marry me, standing in my stocking feet, hair piled on my head and decked out in a Clinique lab coat because I had been good to his dog.

I’ve joked he wanted to marry me because I had food and cable -which he does not really refute – and I married him to get the dogs.

“Daddy didn’t really marry you for cable and food, did he?” Cole will question, not 100 percent sure. “Y’all loved each other.”

Being a hopeless romantic, Cole thinks everyone has a fairy tale romance like Pam and Jim on “The Office” or Waddles and the goat on “Gravity Falls.”

So naturally he thinks our backstory involved a lot of romantic gestures like roses, poems and candlelight. I have to remind Cole real life romance is not like you see on TV.

And that his father is not really good at the woo part of a relationship; Lamar hasn’t even officially proposed.

“Do you think you would have even met Daddy if it hadn’t been for Venus?”


Who knows?

He was about ready to move back to Colorado – if he had, I probably would have never met him.

Lamar’s kind of shy, too.

He may never had a reason to speak to me if he hadn’t thanked me for saving Venus, let alone ask me out.

His mother was the one who called me later to ask if she could give him my number.

She had a caveat though: “He’s got two more of those big German shepherd things at home – three of them. And they are inside. They shed everywhere.”

I pretty much judge people based on how they treat animals. And being an animal lover is on the top of my list of redeeming qualities in people.

The fact he had three and they were inside gave me a pretty good idea of what kind of person he was. So I gave her the OK.

During one of our early dates, he asked me if I wanted to go meet the dogs.

I said yes and wondered if Venus would remember me.

She did, running straight to me, leaning against my legs, and doing her signature paw on my foot move she would do, as if to say I was her person.

And I was – for the 10 years I had her after we married, she was my soulmate and constant companion.

“So, I am here, and we’re a family, all because of Venus?”” Cole said, thinking all of this over.

“Yup,” I said. “All because of a dog named after the mythical goddess of love.”

Pretty appropriate, if I do say so myself.

If you see a well-dressed man, thank his mama

“Did your Daddy pick that out for you?” I asked Cole one morning as we were about to head out the door.

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered.

“Lamar!” I hollered. “He can’t wear that!”

“What’s wrong with it?” Lamar wanted to know. “It’s clean!”

“‘Clean’ is not the only prerequisite for clothing.”

Frustrated, I went to find Cole something that matched.

I try to make my child look nice and presentable – not like he is some ragamuffin who fell off a turnip truck. Just because it was Downy fresh didn’t mean it was appropriate.

“I don’t get why you worry about what he has on,” Lamar said as we headed to our destination – late, because I insisted on my child changing clothes. “He’s a little boy; folks don’t care what little boys have on.”

“I care,” I said. “And believe me. Other people notice.”

Believe me, other people definitely do. Once when Cole was around 4-years-old, Lamar took him to lunch, wearing a pair of boxer shorts and a t-shirt. While they were on their adventures, they ran into a lady Cole used to stay with. When she saw my child was out and about wearing his drawers as outer wear, she called me later to make sure I had not taken ill and needed a casserole.

Lamar has also given this child two different socks. Not just a short one and a tall one, we’re talking my child has worn one of my socks and one of his.

“No one sees what’s stuffed in a boot,” was Lamar’s reasoning.

“They sometimes have to take their shoes off in PE,” I tried explaining. “Do you want your son to be known as the one who wears ladies’ Halloween socks in February?”

Stripes with plaid.

Orange shirt with red shorts.

Inside out, backwards. As long as it was clean and covered what needed to be covered, Lamar would stick the child in it.

Sometimes, I don’t even think clean was really a priority, either.

“He wore that the other day,” I commented once, eyeing Cole’s attire as he ate breakfast.

“It’s clean,” Lamar replied.

A closer inspection revealed chocolate on the collar.

I sighed.

I think I put unrealistic fashion expectations on not just any man, but my husband.

He does not seem to worry about what he wears.

He told me once, I worry about that stuff enough for the both of us, which I don’t. I just think not looking like one dressed in the dark during an emergency evacuation is a reasonable, attainable goal.

Lamar blames me for always making us late, changing shoes, messing with my hair or finding the perfect earrings. But usually it is me trying to find my child clothes. A task that Lamar does in an effort to save me time, so I don’t have to do it. A vicious cycle.

Maybe guys are just different when it comes to clothes. You never hear men sitting around talking about whether or not low rise jeans made their muffin top worse, or if they hoped the Chevron pattern never went out because it hid their five-pound weight gain.

The only words I had ever heard my husband utter about clothes were: “This needs to be burned.”

He has cut the sleeves off long-sleeved shirts because he couldn’t find a short sleeved shirt. I didn’t notice until one evening as we were running errands, I asked what was wrong with the hem. He said nothing. He didn’t have to; he has cut up tons of his clothes. I have sworn one day, I was throwing away all of his clothes that had paint on them, or had been cut up in some Edward Scissorhands fashion.

“Then, I will just be going around naked,” he muttered.

Once my Uncle Bobby had to get my clothes ready for school. He put my chubby tater in a pair of corduroys and a striped shirt, which he forgot to take the iron off of and left the imprint on the back shoulder. I was such a train wreck, the children didn’t even make fun of me. Who puts a fat kid in vertical stripes and corduroys?

“Mama, why do you care about how we look when we go somewhere?” Cole wanted to know. “You won’t even run to the grocery store without your makeup and heels on.”

That was not true; I’ve been wearing flats here lately.

But they didn’t understand this whole “being presentable” concept.

For one thing, I don’t want us ending up on some “People of Walmart” Instagram account, with the caption: “Country come to town.”

I want my child to take pride in his appearance, which he does, but it shows that you respect yourself enough to take a few moments to pull together a simple outfit. You only get one chance to make a first impression – do you want that first impression to be you are on your way to a clown school audition?

“Baby, when you get older, you will be glad that I have taught you, this is important. On your first date, your first job interview. There will be tons of occasions you will be glad you understand it is important to look nice and care about what you are wearing.

It doesn’t have to be the trendiest, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive – just make sure it is clean, nice and looks well.”

Again, no stripes and plaids, I silently pleaded. You will give me a headache to look at it.

One day, he would get it.

And when he did, he could thank his mama.

In sickness and health (8/28/2013)

Earlier this month, Lamar and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. By celebrated, I mean he rode his bike all day and Cole and I watched cartoons and made cupcakes.

Lamar did thank me for not stabbing him over the past decade. I told him it had been hard but I had managed. It was somehow covered by the ‘death til we part’ part of the whole thing.

Then last week, the most horrific of things that could happen to a married woman happened. Lamar got a cold.

Not just a cold, but a summer cold, which we all know is far worse than any regular run of the mill middle-of-winter cold.

And he was a male, therefore making a summer cold a gazillion to the times of pi worse than anything ever conceived.

I have had two major procedures since we’ve been married. The day after I came home from the first one – having Cole – we went to walk off a building to turn in a bid while Granny watched the baby. So here I was, just a few days post C-section, walking some building that was the size of a city block with stitches and a missing morphine drip.

The day I came home from the second procedure, Lamar took off on the bike while I was in the shower and told Mama when he got back, he’d go to the store. When he did, he thought a bag of dog food and a box of Little Debbie’s constituted ‘groceries.’ I promptly made him take me back.

Now, here he was, with a cold. You would think the world was grinding to a halt. Hallmark needs a card just for man-sickness.

Bless it.

He was close to being stabbed. Or shanked. Or somehow put out of his misery.

But did I complain? No. I didn’t even fuss. Not once. I did maybe roll my eyes when I got him a glass of water.

What it is about men that when they get sick they turn into a bunch of babies? Even the toughest, strongest, biggest men are pitiful. And here was Lamar, someone who thinks riding a bicycle up mountain climbs for hours is fun and has worked hard, physical labor most of his life but could succumb to the effects of a cold. I didn’t get it.

I asked Mama to pray for me.

“I always do, Kitten,” she said, concern growing in her voice at my request. “What’s wrong?”

“Lamar’s got a cold, Mama,” I said simply. No further explanation was needed. Mama wasn’t a fool.

“I hope he feels better soon. A summer cold can be quite rough.” Her voice relayed her empathy and understanding of the situation.

“Mama, I don’t get it. Why is it a man gets sick and they become the world’s biggest babies but a woman gets sick, she doesn’t get that luxury?”

“That’s the way it’s always been,” Mama explained. “And unfortunately, a lot of it goes back to when those men were little boys and how their mama’s took care of him. I am sure Lamar’s mother probably doted on him when he was sick. You know for a lot of children, being sick can be a fun time – they stay home from school, get their mother’s sole attention. Do you think that’s what happened?”

I wasn’t sure and I doubted that was the case here. Where did Mama get this Freudian approach to man-sickness?

“What do you do when Cole is sick?” Mama asked.

I take care of him – take him to the doctor, make him soup, let him watch his cartoons, give him ginger ale, make sure all the pigs of Piglandia are in the bed with him, let him download a new video game to play. I made sure he was comfy and taken care of.

Sweet, sweet son of a biscuit eater.

“Oh, Mama….” I began. “Are all men like this? Is it all their mother’s fault?”

“Probably,” she answered for both counts.

I may be perpetuating a vicious cycle and not realize it. It looked like it was indeed the fault of the mother. Of course it was; wasn’t everything?

“It’s still not fair,” I stated. “If I get sick or have something, no one takes care of me.”

“I would if you let me,” she replied, “but you don’t let me.”

“So what should I do, Mama?” I asked.

Mama, in all her words of wisdom, with all her compassion, her empathy, her understanding told me what only a mama can say: Suck it up, buttercup.

I sighed and hung up. Cole was saying he thought he was getting what his Daddy had. Did I get ginger ale when I went to the store Friday? Where was Piggy?

Hallmark is really missing out on a killing here.