Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why can't we all be more like Carl?

In the childrens section right now, on the remainders table for about $13, we have this book called "You're a Good Dog, Carl!", its an anthology of six stories about Carl the wonder dog.

Now, I'm going through this thing right now where I don't buy books (or anything) I don't absolutely need, because occasionally I look around my tiny room in Allston and I freak out because its so jam packed with tidbits and mementos (the embroidered mystery plaque I found at a thrift store that says, amongst delicate cloth flowers, 'My eyes are my ears', the commemorative 'The Facts of Life' lunchbox/DVD series combo, the framed picture of Kathy Griffin) that I have to take some breaths.

And I have to do this because part of me secretly believes that the hippie-sanctioned "on the road" lifestyle is the way to be, that earthly possessions mean nothing and minimizing your junk is key. And the other part of me LOVES TO SHOP, specifically loves to collect weirdness, loves the feeling of a new thing that is mine. I digress - the point is, I'm not buying this anthology, because I don't have a child and can't legitimize that purchase in my brain. However, if I had endless space and money it would be mine.

I was originally introduced to Carl when my half sister Emma was born in 1993. I was never one of those kids that wanted a sibling. First off, the idea of a constant playmate totally bummed me out - I was, and still am, a big proponent of quiet, alone time. When adults would say ridiculous things like "Well I bet you'd love a little brother or sister, wouldn't you? Someone to play with?" my response was simple. It seemed to me that there were only enough resources for me; food, water, attention, sleeping space. Why introduce a new organism into this sphere if, clearly, it was only going to wilt and die? Seemed wastefully irresponsible. I wasn't really that into the kids that I got to leave behind at the end of the school day, let alone somebody I would be competing with constantly. Also, as a child, my mother was a live-in nanny and would moonlight in outside nannying jobs to pick up some extra cash. I would go with her, so I felt like I had the inside scoop on the brother/sister dichotomy. It was ugly. It was mean. Low-down and dirty. Thanks, but pass.

So when Emma was born, I was a little reticent. Emma, like a cat, could sense I was with-holding and became my biggest fan. Every time I had a weekend at my Dads house, she demanded my attention. Since I was 6 years older, we ended up reading a lot of books together, especially right before she went to bed. This was how I met Carl.

Right off the bat, the concept is fantastically ridiculous. Carl is a rottweiler, a notably large, barrel-shaped breed, whose owners literally leave Carl in charge of what looks like a roughly 8 or 9 month old baby, who almost immediately crawls out of his crib and starts riding Carl around like a horse.

The initial adventure is restricted to the house, which, okay, the fact that Carl is a dog aside, is mildly believable. This could happen, conceivably. Parents leave dog and baby in house, baby gets out of crib, causes mayhem. That happens right!? Not that weird. Further inventions include the park, a day care (interesting, there is a day care close enough to this families house that a dog can get there in an afternoon while being ridden by a baby and yet the parents choose to leave the rottweiler in charge? Ok, fine, no judgment) and other wacky places. At one point, the mother is on a walk with Carl and the baby and she runs into one of her friends (from the book club, you know) who has her brand new puppy with her and the mom says "Lets go get some tea! Carl can take care of the baby and the puppy!"

Okay, Carl isn't even consulted on this, but okay. Just because he can't talk doesn't mean he doesn't have a voice, you tool of white oppression. But never mind that now.

I have opposable thumbs, a high school degree, I'm about a semester and a half away from having a bachelors degree, I pay a gas bill, an electric bill and rent every month - and I'm pretty damn sure I couldn't take care of a baby and a puppy at the same time. What if one of them poops? What if one of them poops on the other one? What if they both poop at the same time, and I slip in it and crack my head open on the counter top, propelling me into a worst case scenario trauma coma?? Do you see? Do you see how, once you open your mind to all the possibilities, how easy it is to be paralyzed by fear??!

Not Carl. Carl shoulders these responsibilities like a champion. Carl could probably take care of the fruit fly problem in my apartment. He could fix it when I mess up with my friends and they feel like I'm ignoring them when really I'm just busy all the time. He could probably write the final I'm avoiding by writing this blog. Then I could ride him to UMASS Boston and everybody would say "Hey, is that girl riding a dog!?"

And I'd say, "You're a good dog, Carl." and take another swig from my hip flask.

keep it real, Brookline. May Carl have faith in us all.

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