My Week 13 – Gift-Buying and Titus the Alcoholic Psychic

Monday: I refuse to accept that I am “hard to buy for”.

If I had a dollar for every time someone that I know and love said to me, “I didn’t know what to get you—you’re so hard to buy for”, I’d have enough dollars to buy myself something that I really like. But I am NOT hard to buy for. Here are the things that I like: jewellery, perfume, make-up, clothes, fine leather goods, electronics, antiques, and alcohol. That’s a pretty comprehensive list. But Ken will tell you that within this list, there are only specific types of things that belong to each category, which is why he always approaches buying me gifts with a certain amount of dread. I think this is totally unfair, and it makes me feel really guilty. And I’m a very believable recipient—I always act terribly pleased, regardless of the gift, and no one but Ken ever knows if I’m not. This is part of the problem—I CAN’T FOOL KEN. He always knows when I’m not being sincere, because, unfortunately, Ken was my partner in crime when I taught K how to handle getting things she didn’t like, for example clothes instead of toys, which was to say “Thank you it’s beautiful!” (this came out as “Tank you ids bootyful” when she was little and it was sooo adorable). Of course, now that K is much older, she doesn’t bother with the niceties. This was the conversation on Christmas morning:

K: 2 more pairs of pajamas. Wow.
Me: But you said you needed pajamas.
K: No, YOU said I needed pajamas.
Me: Well, SOMEONE said you needed pajamas! Either way. Now you have lots of pajamas, and I don’t have to look at you in that pair you’re wearing right now with the knee ripped out.
K: Yes. Now I have a different pair for every day of the week. Thanks. Is there anything under the tree for me besides more pajamas?
Me: Um….
K: Again, wow.

While I might not be very imaginative when it comes to picking out gifts, the trouble with Ken is that he tries to be TOO imaginative. For example, right as we were about to open our stockings this year, Ken announced, “The gifts in your stocking this year are based on a THEME.” We all stopped what we were doing. Nobody spoke. Then K said, “I don’t see this ending well.” Because apparently the theme was “things you can use to cook my dinner with”. The first stocking stuffer was a shaker of spices. I looked at it curiously, and Ken said, “You can use it to sprinkle on the potatoes when you roast them!” He was getting nervous. I smiled, and opened the next gift—a jar of pizza spice “for when you make homemade pizza.” This was followed by a grinder full of chipotle and pink Havana sea salt, and a selection of “peppercorns from around the world”. At this point the smiling kind of stopped. I didn’t know quite what to make of any of it, except that I had a lot of cooking ahead of me, and it was going to be very spicy. But that’s OK—I really like cooking, and in retrospect, they were pretty cool gifts with a lot of thought behind them (even if he did buy them all at Homesense on Christmas Eve). But the main point is that I don’t really care about presents all that much. At this time of year, I like to remember one of my favourite quotations: The best things in life aren’t things. The most awesome gift of all is having Ken and K with me on Christmas morning. And like the Whos down in Whoville say, “Christmas day will always be/Just as long as we have we.” Plus Ken got me the Ipod Nano that I asked for, two bottles of very good wine, and some other nice things, so I never once had to say “Thank you, it’s beautiful”.

Thursday: Titus is an alcoholic. Also, he may be psychic.

I’m a little worried that my dog is turning into an alcoholic. A few weeks ago at the cottage, I spilled some wine on the carpet. Before I could even get a paper towel, Titus was going crazy licking it up. It was only a few drops, but we could barely drag him away. Also, I began to notice that whenever I poured a glass of wine around him, he started to drool, and it was really gross. To prove my theory, one night I dipped my finger in the wine glass and offered it to him. He licked it off my finger voraciously, then started to lick the blanket where a drop had fallen. Suddenly he seemed to realize that this heavenly nectar was coming from the glass in my hand, and I spent the rest of the night pushing his face out of my wineglass. Then the other day, my aunt was at our house, and she left her full glass of wine on the coffee table when she left the room. When she came back, the glass was empty and Titus looked extremely glassy-eyed. At this point, we realized that our dog might be a wino. (Did I give him a little bit of wine in his bowl on Christmas Eve as a treat? Did he spend the next couple of hours lying on our bed, staring at the wall? Did Ken call me an “enabler”? I admit to nothing.) But I started to worry about getting calls from the local pub eg: “Come and get your damn dog—he’s too drunk to walk home by himself. And he lost all his money playing poker.” Then I started thinking about a 12 Step Program for dogs and what that would look like. The AA steps seem to be very religious, with a lot of talk about giving yourself up to God, but that would be OK—Titus seems to believe that a deity of some sort lives in his supper dish, because we usually put him outside before we fill his bowl up. When he comes in, the food seems to have magically appeared, to the point that, whenever he comes in from outside, he always checks the bowl “just in case”. Of course, the god-like bowl was also where he got his last taste of wine, so he probably thinks his personal deity is both loving and benevolent. One of the other steps is to make amends to all the people you’ve harmed. What do dogs apologize for? Here are some things that Titus might want to make amends for:

• I’m sorry I licked your pants 5 times. Well, I’m not sorry about the first time, because you dropped a donut on them, but the other 4 times were unnecessary.
• The other day when everyone thought you farted, it was actually me. So much for blaming the dog, huh?
• I didn’t mean to puke on the carpet, but I ate my dinner too fast. Next time, I’ll aim for the hardwood.
• Was that you I tripped on the stairs in my eagerness to go for a walk? Sorry–I didn’t see you there.
• I didn’t mean to smack you in the face when you asked for a high five. I’m just not very coordinated.
• Yes, I ate that entire box of crackers that you left on the counter, as well as the 16 cubes of chicken bouillon that I stole out of the cupboard. I apologize. I also apologize for once again puking on the carpet.

And so on. That dog has a lot to answer for. But, in his defense, we think he might also have a sixth sense, because on Christmas day, my sister-in-law, who very recently lost her husband, came over to the house and met Titus for the first time. Titus never barks, but when he saw her, he went nuts, barking at her, or the air around her, and wagging his tail like crazy—not an angry bark, but a really excited bark, like maybe he saw someone we didn’t. It was a comforting thought for all of us, that perhaps Lonzo’s spirit was with us and Titus could somehow sense him there. Despite his addiction issues, and the occasional puking, he’s a pretty cool guy, which is what people say about a lot of alcoholics, right?

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