January 20, 2018

inappropriate laughter

Look, you know from an earlier post that we love our dogs like we love our kid.  Let's just set that out from the get-go here.  Hold on to that.  You'll need it.  Ready?

Inappropriate laughter may be one of the signs of hypomania, but in our case, P.J. and me, it has nothing to do with mood and everything to do with being sick, jaded, differently-thinking creatures who find humor in the strangest places, "found humor" that others wouldn't see and that we often can't tell anyone else about because they'd ostracize us afterward, or maybe phone someone up to come around and evaluate us to see if we're fit parents and safe to allow to continue participating in society at large.


I mean really, really sick senses of humor.


Yesterday, I read a Facebook post from a former co-worker.  It was very sad.  The kind you hate to see because a dog gets dead in it, but this sort of tribute has become as essential as a back yard funeral when a pet dies.  If you don't post a memorial on Facebook with at least six pictures of your dearly departed fur-kid, things just weren't done properly.  Ergo:


"We lost our [Buddy] today after 13 years of ... companionship. We found out yesterday during his annual exam that his heart was enlarged ... He died suddenly today. He was a ...  sweetheart who would walk with his chest puffed out like he owned the world. We are missing him."


I should have choked up, reading that, as I so often do, but instead, inappropriate laughter struck, because what kind of choice of words is that?  His chest puffed out, after just saying he had an enlarged heart?  I tried to go about cooking dinner and tidying the house, but kept bursting into giggle fits over this.  Poor Buddy (not his name).  Poor lit-- little-- poor Bu -- snrrrrkkkghhh OHMYGODWHYDIDHEWRITEITTHATWAY????


But that's nothing compared to what I did a year ago.  


I flat-out adore BarkBox.  We subscribed to them for about a year.  This is not a heartless, cold stone wall corporation, y'all.  It's a company run by people who passionately care about dogs, plain and simple.  I found this out because I tried once to stop the subscription.  Their marketing folks are crème de la crème (one of the few instances in which I don't begrudge the marketing thing, because their creativity knows no bounds).  I did this by phone and got an offer to continue the subscr
iption at a discounted price, one that I couldn't refuse.  So we kept subscribing, until I remembered the reason I called them in the first place, which wasn't about the money at all.  Chester was eviscerating the "indestructible" toys they sent within ten minutes, and then eating the fuzz and bits of cloth that, while nowhere approaching indestructible where his teeth and steel will were concerned, did prove to be indestructible in his intestinal tract.  He would lie around miserable for hours afterward, with his belly making suspicious gurgling noises, and we'd stand over him, worried, waiting for the episode to pass.  Eventually our combined intelligences managed to figure out that maybe we shouldn't have these toys around.  The treats were always top of the line, but the toys were the focus of getting a BarkBox in the first place, and so I decided that we really, truly did need to end the subscription.

But I'm a spineless wuss when it comes to being the least bit assertive about something.  I'm pretty sure I was a doormat in a former life.  I wasn't going to call them again.  I resorted to their online customer contact form.  And because I am a wuss, I didn't want them marketing at me some more, so I decided to say that Rose had died.  That would be sure to put paid to any further attempts to get me to continue the subscription.


They understood, and confirmed the discontinuation of the subscription, also by e-mail.  All real-time human interaction avoided.  But you know what?  Payback is hell.


Four days later, we got a fucking sympathy card for Rose in the mail.  Hand-written from upper management folks or the owners of the company or something.  Not even that bullshit typeset that's designed to look like handwriting.  I mean the genuine article.  The message was sweet and sincere.  Which means that a) they do this for every dog that gets reported to them, and b) I was, and perhaps still am, the scum of the earth.


It touched our tender hearts.  We stood with our mouths slightly open and stared at it.  


Then we started laughing.  This thing we were holding was preposterous.  What I did was preposterous.  We laughed so hard we were doubled over.  It went on forever.  We were wheezing.


It came in handy in later months, when Rose would lie and do her high-pitched eternal whine and I would say, "Rose, shut it.  I've already gotten a sympathy card for you, you know."


They say we laugh to resolve cognitive dissonance, and the greater that dissonance is, the harder we laugh.  So the utter inappropriateness of the things we laugh at must be why we end up clutching our stomachs and begging for mercy and then falling right back into it, unable to stop.  And why we bring it back up months later and start laughing again.  So much dissonance to resolve.


But I'm sorry:  That shit is funny.


Epilogue:  We bought BarkBox subscriptions for all dog-having family members this past Christmas.  And if you have a dog that isn't a single-minded sharp-toothed destroying machine, bent on removing the entrails and rending the flesh of squeaky-toy alligators, do yourself a favor and go sign up.  It's not a bad deal at all, price-wise, and we've got to support this small business, one of the Forces of Good in this faltering world.


Update:  I sent this post to Barkbox as a confession and then braced myself.  They were totally cool about it.  I really don't even know how a company can manage to be that amazingly groovy.  


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