When I was in high school in the late 80’s, my parents were friends with a couple who took their little dogs with them everywhere they went. Oh, how they doted on their precie-wecious little Yorkie-poos (the Yorkie being the Swatch of dog breeds). They gave them cutesy names and talked to them in baby talk and even, on occasion dressed them up in clothes. How I sneered at them from the frosty heights of my adolescence- throwing lightning bolts of cynical derision from the top of Mount Sourpuss. How absurd they looked to my perpetually rolling 17 year old eyes- how pathetic.
Anyhow, I hadn’t thought of this couple in years, but I found myself suddenly thinking of them while I was talking to my wife very seriously about whether we should get Punky little booties to go along with her new polka dot fleece in preparation for our upcoming trip to Denver to visit my in-laws. After all, it’s cold and snowy in Denver, and we have to protect baby Punky’s little footsie-wootsies from the snow, don’t we? And what are we supposed to do- get her booties that don’t match her fleece- now that’s crazy. This is a big trip for Punky and it’s important she look her best. After all, Punky’s never seen snow before- haven’t you Punky? Haven’t you little Punky wunky woodlie woodle? Who’s a little dog who hasn’t seen snow before? Who’s a little dogey wog wog who hasn’t seen snow before? PUNKY!!!
Oh oh oh oh- you’re gonna judge me, now 17 year old Eric. Seriously? Cause….uh…. I’m not the one with a half grown shitty teenage pornstache and a mullet. Walking around with a peace sign earring from Spencer’s Gifts and a tie dye. And not a cool tie dye- not like a psychedelic, Steal Your Face, spiral of shapes and colors and dancing bears and skeletons. No this is some piece of shit tie-die you made out of one of your dad’s undershirts at Camp Givah last summer that looks like you were feeding a baby Fruit Loops and mud and it threw up all over you. Seriously, dude- what was up with your hair? It’s like business in the front, party in the back- but the only business you’re in is the business of not getting laid and self respect ain’t invited to the party. Just look at that ridiculous hair. All that…luscious…curly….long…ridiculous hair. No baldspot like an ever expanding flesh-colored yarmulke. Hairline not yet receding like my youthful ideals. All that…hair. Sob. PUNKY! Make me feel better about my bald spot. Ahhhh. That’s the stuff.
Anyhow- like I was saying- my wife and I were headed to Denver and we decided that if we had to leave the sunny confines of LA in February and head to one of the Crap Weather States (you know- the ones where 25% of your Facebook friends bitch about the snow, 25% bitch about how annoying it is that the other 25% are bitching about the snow like it’s some new thing they’ve never seen before in their lives and 50% can’t post a goddamn thing cause their power’s out. AGAIN.) then Punky should suffer right along with us.
We had wanted to fly Southwest – in fact, we even went so far as to purchase the Official Southwest Logo Branded Under Seat Doggy Tote Bag. But of course Southwest, being the noncommittal jerkwad boyfriend of airlines, had a typically infuriating pet policy. You see, the customer can pay in advance – and they’ll take an unlimited number of pet reservations but they’ll only actually allow 5 pets on each plane- so you just sort of have to show up early and hope that you’re one of the first five. Confused? Well, here’s a transcript of my conversation with Southwest:
(Southwest is sitting on a tattered couch doing bong hits and playing Mario Kart. I enter and sit next to him.)
SW: Sure- ok- so…talk.
Me: Could you please turn the game off?
SW: (rolls his eyes, turns off the game with theatrical flourish. Sits back on the couch looking exasperated.) Happy now?
Me: Yes. Thank you. Now, the reason I wanted to talk to you is that my wife and I are going to be flying to Denver and we wanted to bring our dog.
SW:(relieved): Oh- cool- is that it? Yeah- sure, all you’ve gotta do is pay a little extra and then we can take up to five pets per flight.
Me: Great! So you only take five pet reservations?
SW: No- we take an unlimited number of reservations. We just only take five pets per flight. So, you’ve just gotta be one of the first ones there.
Me: Oh- well…can you check and see how many are already reserved on this flight?
SW: (rolling his eyes) Uh-no- but, you know, it’s cool- you’ve just gotta be one of the first five there.
Me: So- we could pay for the dog and then not be able to get on the flight with her?
SW: Yeah- I guess so…(turns the game on)
Me: (turning game off): I said- turn that OFF.
SW: Fine, whatever (picks up Details Magazine)
Me: So- there is no way that we can make a reservation and get some commitment from the airline that you’ll actually honor our reservation and allow us to bring the dog on the plane??
SW: Whoa whoa whoa- this is getting pretty serious. I thought we were just like, you know, hanging out, having a good time, flying to Denver and shit. I thought we like, you know, had an understanding. I don’t know- I mean- you’re a cool customer and all- but, like, I just don’t know if I’m ready to commit to guaranteeing that you’ll be able to bring your pet on board. I mean- why do you have to get all weird about it? What’s next- reserved seats? It’s cool- you know. All you’ve gotta do is pay now and then be one of the first five people at the airport with a pet.
SW: Yeah- oh, man- listen, I’ve gotta go I’ve got, like, another customer on the line and it’s …uhm…an emergency….so just book the flight and I’ll, like, email you a confirmation- cool?
Me: Fine. Whatever. FINE
SW: Alright. Cool. You’re not mad right? Cause, Customers and whatever are like our number one priority.
Me: IT’S FINE.
And it was fine, we just decided to fly Frontier because they were willing to commit to giving us a pet reservation- and the fares were actually pretty good- until we realized that when you buy an airplane ticket on Frontier- that’s literally ALL you get- a “ticket” to board an “airplane.” Everything else costs extra. I’m not just talking about Bloody Mary’s for $7 and $25 for checked bags- I’m talking $2 for water, $5 for aisle seats, $10 for CARRY ON LUGGAGE, in case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling for only $5.75 and for $16.95- your seat cushion may be used as a floatation device. Seriously- how do they have the fucking chutzpah to sell me an airplane ticket and then charge EXTRA for bringing on luggage- like that’s optional- like it’s some crazy, decadent impulse purchase that only coked out millionaire Wolf of Wall Street stock brokers would ever dream of buying. I mean what do they want me to do??? Just wear all the clothes for the trip at once??? Swallow a condom full of socks and underpants??? Who came up with this airline, anyhow- my Israeli contractor?
Frontier: You want to fly to Denver? Not problem! I make you very good price- $169.
Me: That is good- and we’ll just be carrying on….
Frontier: Oh- you want to bring luggage? No no no no no. For that, I have to charge extra- but don’t worry. Because we are friends, I make you very good price – $10,000- and I’m not make any money at all, I promise.
We quickly realized it wasn’t worth paying the “Classic” rate and paying for all the crazy, luxurious upgrades like LUGGAGE and SEATS separately and that we should go for the “Classic Plus” rate instead– which includes one checked bag, one carry on bag, the assigned seat of our choice and priority boarding. Though, next time we fly – I really think I’m gonna choose “Premiere” which includes a complimentary soft drink and shred of dignity.
When we paid for priority boarding, though, we didn’t realize that Frontier actually had come up with a whole new way of boarding a plane at LAX. They don’t “call people in by row” or “board by seating groups” – they just sort of open the door and let people board in the order that they realize that nobody cares enough to stop them. It’s brilliant! Such a refreshingly social Darwinist approach to boarding a plane. Welcome to Fountainhead Airways – an airline only Rand Paul could love- assuming, of course, Daddy saved him an exit row seat.
In the weeks leading up to our flight, we debated whether we should sedate Punky before taking her on the plane, but all the info we found online said this was BAD. Like High Fructose Corn Syrup bad (aw shit!) Like processed lunch meats with NITRATES bad (daaaaaammnn!) Like giving your kid a peanut butter sandwich to take in their lunch to A PUBLIC SCHOOL bad (oh no you didn’t!!!!) So being responsible, 21st Century, enlightened pet owners we were absolutely, positively 100% certain that under no circumstances would we be sedating our dog, thank you very much, I say good day, Sir. Good day…until we brought her to the vet for her pre-flight health certificate and the first question the vet asked is “so- you wanna sedate her?” Now- this may be because the vet was knowledgeable enough to be immune to all the pseudo-scientific balderdash on the internet and knew that, from a medical and scientific perspective, the risks of sedation are extremely minor, and that the benefits of reducing flight related anxiety for the dog (and owners) through mild sedation far eclipse the risks. Or- it could be because the vet observed that Punky barked at EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DOG that walked into the waiting room and then, when the receptionists couldn’t take any more and moved us into a private exam room, she barked at EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DOG who walked outside the exam room door (Punky has a penchant for barking at dogs that are exponentially larger than she is. In her mind she’s a cross between Rhonda Rousey and Uma Thurman in a yellow jumpsuit, but she comes across more like a coked up Shirley Temple with eyeliner running down her face screaming “Do you know who I AM?” at the bouncer outside Sky Bar who’s played by The Rock) Or- it could be because the vet observed that trying to get Punky on the scale is one of the more challenging rodeo events, right up there with Bull Riding, Obama Bashing and the Greased Jew Contest. At any rate, the vet quickly evaluated the solution and offered a cutting edge scientific solution- half a Benedryl for Punky, vodka and People Magazine for us. DONE.
And so, the day of the flight came- we Benadryled Punky down from “spastic” to “frisky” and shoved her in the Official Southwest Logo Branded Under Seat Doggy Tote Bag. As she smushed her sad little face up to the mesh of the bag, looking like she had Sarah McLachlan on speed dial, we boarded our Frontier Airlines flight in some totally random order, pausing briefly to pay our Jetway Usage Fee of $21. We took our seats towards the front of the plane so that Punky could yap fiercely at every single passenger that walked by like they were celebrities on the red carpet and she was possessed by the ghost of Joan Rivers. BTW- I was shocked to discover this year that red carpet coverage is actually worse without Joan Rivers. It’s a warning to all us basketball fans who’ve been cheering for Dick Vitale to drop dead- though football fans putting pins into their Chris Collinsworth voodoo doll should please feel free to proceed unabated.
We took off from LAX and headed out over the sparkling Pacific Ocean before turning east. I’ve never been clear why planes have to cruise out over the ocean first before heading east from LAX- sort of a dick move, if you ask me, like LA is rubbing it in- you know? Like LA is flashing it’s tits in our face and saying that we can say goodbye to these cause it’s the last time we’re gonna see them. Anyhow, I must have dozed off because when I woke up we were heading into Denver and something terrible seemed to have happened. The only explanation I could think of was that there was some sort of terrible explosion at the doughnut factory because everything we saw was covered in powdered sugar. Clearly that was the only logical explanation because the other possibility- well, that was just too terrifying to be considered.
I suppose I was still in denial when we landed and I offered to take Punky out for a quick walk while my wife waited for the luggage to arrive at baggage claim….the luggage which contained my coat, hat, scarf and gloves. Still- no problem- I was just popping out for a quick stroll- how cold could it be?
So- yeah- how cold could it be? Oh, I’ll tell how fucking cold it could fucking be. Really cold. Really, really cold. Really, really, really goddamn motherfucking, cocksucking cold. So cold I saw three Eskimos gather around a witch’s tit for warmth. So cold I wanted to grab every person I saw, shake them by the lapels and scream “WHY DO YOU LIVE HERE??? DON’T YOU KNOW??? HAVEN’T YOU HEARD YOU CAN LEAVE???? I mean, seriously, dude- LA is like right over there- WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU STAY?? I mean- sure, I get it- you like legal weed and snowboarding – but get a prescription, learn how to surf and RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE- IT’S SO DAMN COLD!!!!!!”
OK- so it was cold. But surely it wouldn’t be too bad. After all, it’s not like I’d be spending a lot of time during my trip outside, right? Well- that’s what I thought, but then our adorable little Punky Wunky- our darlingest, dearest, cutest Little Punky Wunky Woodles who charmed the hell out of everyone she met with her relentless adorability (she’s like the Terminator of cute) decided that she wouldn’t go pee pee outside unless I was walking her. And so, ten times a day, I strapped her into her little polka dot fleece, roped her into her harness like a champion Jew wrassler and trudged with her into the icy misery of suburban Denver. At first, I thought this was her way of saying “hey- you dragged me out here, asshole, you’re gonna suffer, too” – but after a while, I realized what she was actually saying was- “ohmygodohmygodohmygod!!!!! Have you seen how AWESOME IT IS OUT HERE?????? Cause it’s AMMMMAAAAZZZZZIIIIIIINGGG!!!!! There’s bunnies and birds and squirrels and birds and squirrels and bunnies and ohmygodohmygoohmygod there’s all this SNNNNNOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!! WWEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! I can jump in it and run in it and roll in it and the best part the best part the best part the best part is when I pee in it turns yellow. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! SNOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! YELLOW SNOW!!!!!!! Can we go outside? Canwegocanwegocanwegocanwegocanwego????? Oh- and, chop-chop, cause in about 30 seconds I’m gonna take an enormous dump all over your father in law’s carpet so get to steppin’. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! I love SNOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!” Fuckin’ dog. Fuckin’ goddamn dog. Fuckin’ adorable little fuckin’ irresistible dog.
So, yeah, every two hours- or pretty much any time she asked I took Punky out to frolic in the goddamn snow. Now- – you may think that I faced my destiny without complaining. That I braved the elements with manly, stoic grace like a Jack London character. You may also think that leprechauns are real and that the snowball you brought to Congress disproved global warming- I can’t control the stupid shit you believe. Because, the fact is, I kvetched and moaned and complained every single time I had to go outside. The Eskimos may have 50 words for snow- but I’ve got a WHOLE LOT MORE- except most of them are actually the same four letter word said over and over again and conjugated a million different ways- and you’d better fuckin’ believe that fuckin’ word ain’t “snow.” What do you want from me? It’s my birthright to complain. Let me tell you something about my people: we don’t do home repair, we don’t do the Easter Bunny and we never, ever suffer in silence. Honestly, there’s nothing more goyisha than that. Hell, my ancient Biblical ancestors (if you believe in this stuff) were liberated from a life of slavery and oppression and delivered to freedom in the Promised Land where they could become a great nation- and they had the audacity to complain about the food- the FREE FOOD, mind you, that God just DROPPED OUT OF THE SKY in their fucking laps on the way- FOR FREE. I mean- what the fuck? They’re like the original millennials. That’s like complaining to Harriet Tubman about your seat on the Underground Railroad. Anyhow, with that proud heritage of miserable ingratitude, you’d better damn well believe that if I have to go out into freezing cold weather over and over again, I’m going to bitch about it- and no fluffy little white Shiksa dog is going to change that no matter how loveable she is (she’s like the irrepressible canine Rose to my miserable, kvetching Atticus).
Horrible weather aside, though. It was a perfectly lovely trip. I would have liked to do more weed shopping- if only to win back some street cred with Teen Eric, but otherwise a perfectly fine way to spend a weekend freezing my balls off.
Of course, the best part of any trip to LA is coming home- and this trip was no exception. Punky was better behaved on the plane home than she was on the way out (I guess we must have given her the good half of the Benadryl) and we had that wonderful moment, familiar to anyone whose arrived at LAX, when we first stepped out of the airport and realized that the temperature on the outside was exactly the same as the temperature on the inside- the only thing in LA, in fact, that’s the same inside and out. And as for the Punkster- well, she may have enjoyed romping in the snow- but, come on, she’s a California girl at heart and she’s totally psyched to be back in the warm weather and has no interest in ever going back to a snowy climate ever again. Or, at least those are the feelings I’ve chosen to project on her, cause, honestly, she’s a dog and what the hell does she know? And even if she does want to go back to the snow, well that’s just too damn bad because there’s no way in hell I’m ever going back to the freezing cold weather again no matter how much she whines….or whimpers….or how super duper cute she looks. Sigh. Get in the Official Southwest Logo Branded Under Seat Doggy Tote Bag, Punky- hopefully Frontier’s got great deals to Albany- as long as we don’t mind paying the State Capital Surcharge, the Cross Country Flight Fee and the I Can’t Believe You’re Going Back to Albany After You Vowed You Would Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Return Charge. Anything for Punky. Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, Teen Eric- the joke’s on you cause you’re gonna turn into me. That’s right, bitch-ass- feast your eyes on your future:
That’s right- I’m old, I’m bald, I’m holding a dog wearing a red sweater with rhinestones- and LOVING IT!!! (also wearing a t-shirt with her face on it. Oh yeah.) And, hey- it’s not like we lost our minds completely- I mean, look- we didn’t get Punky the booties to match her polka dot fleece, did we? Cause, you know- THAT would just be nuts. I mean, please, this is Punky we’re talking about- it’s doggy Uggs or nothing.
Hell, I told you she was a California dog.