Spiritual Comfort from a Dog and Merrill Markoe: PICK UP THE BIG FLAT WET THING

Tank and June, shown here, live with my friends Pat and Bill, all of whom have done the most to insist on my survival through the end of my marriage. The only good that I can see is that any bad karma I might have accumulated through causing pain to others has now been visited on my head threefold, balancing out any karmic debt outstanding.
This American Life broadcast an episode on "breakups" today, and although I meant not to listen, the radio was still on while I was weeping in the next room, and so I heard Merrill Markoe read the following story, which made me think of Tank and June (the cats at home being just as puzzled and confused as I) and contains the best of all the well-meaning advice I've heard from strangers and friends alike:

"Today our friend Paul came to the house in a near dissociative state of panic. Suddenly and without warning it appeared his marriage was unraveling.
He sat down on the big red couch in my living room , I offered him some vodka and he cautiously began to detail his anguish.
“Up until yesterday if you had asked me if my marriage was a happy one, I would have said yes, “ he said, choking back tears, his voice quivering with emotion,” and then last night, out of the blue, my wife comes in and tells me she wants a divorce.”
As Paul spoke , his voice full of shock and misery, our dog Puppyboy, a skinny brown and black Tijuana Shepherd, approached him. It appeared to be one of those moments of poignant intuitive empathy that people and animals sometimes share…right up until the moment I noticed that Puppyboy’s mouth was full of a large black completely deflated soccer ball. To Puppyboy, a ball is still a ball whether or not it is currently filled with air. And any occasion, even one that involves tears, is as good as any other to begin a game of “Fetch.” So he placed the flat wet piece of rubber gently on Paul’s knee, where it balanced like a rock at Stonehenge, then sat down right in front of Paul to wait for the games to begin. Paul, however, was too upset to notice....

"Hello, new seated person. I am Puppyboy and I can see that you are very upset for some reason. But I have something on my mind.
It is an idea so big that I can hardly hold my head up from the enormous weight of it. It is more than an idea. It is an urgent message. I am going out on a limb here and tell you that It is the most important thing I have ever had to say. And it is this: I have placed a thing on you that you must throw....
The only other possible explanation for your puzzling lack of interest is that you are purposefully ignoring me. And why would you do that? That doesn’t make any sense.
Especially since you are really hurting yourself more than you are hurting me. Because let’s face it…you’re the one who is passing up a great opportunity.
And by a great opportunity I am referring to the chance to have the kind of fun that everyone dreams of having. I speak of the chance to throw a big flat stretchy wet thing....
I don’t want to be preachy, but In life there are certain moments that may never come again. This, I believe, is one of those moments for you. Throw it now or live a life of regret.
I mean I can’t stop you if you’d rather just listen to yourself talk. Wife wife wife, she did this, she did that, really fascinating.
Pick up the big flat wet thing.
Pick up the big flat wet thing.
Pick up the big flat wet thing. PICK IT UP.PICK IT UP. PICK UP THE BIG FLAT WET THING?
Are you even listening? You know, Maybe if you had LISTENED A LITTLE BETTER DURING YOUR MARRIAGE your wife wouldn’t want a divorce. DID you ever think of that? IT WOULDN’T SURPRISE ME IF YOU NEVER THREW THE THINGS THAT SHE BROUGHT YOU EITHER!"

Full text, by Merrill Markoe, at her website here


Anonymous said...

The average cat/rabbit/guinea pig-oriented person might have been puzzled by that story, but you obviously grasped its universal wisdom immediately. This is just one example of why everyone needs a dog around at all times. We're so glad that June and Tank have been serving as required.


Now I have to go listen to the story read aloud. Thanks, pal!


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

That is a pretty neat dog story. Of course, a cat would be of no help at all. You know, two good writer friends of mine (one you likely know from the conventions) lived together for several years, and one morning, at a CONVENTION no less, one several of us had DRIVEN to, she told her ex-BFF, I want you to move out tomorrow. Later that day we were all driving home across I-64. But I think her boyfriend's problem was what Puppydog was trying to say.