“I am a job creator”

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I am a dog. I like to sleep. Sometimes 12, 14, 16 hours a day. There’s a reason for this, but I’m not sure what it is. What I do know is that it’s difficult to sleep with these non-animal others around here, slinging their toys around the dedicated-toy-enclosure as if all these boys had to do in the world were to create mayhem for Molly Sprinkles and Hiram Hiram. My little friends are younger and smaller and still fear the family in a way rich with feline honesty.

What keeps me up at night–and apparently I’m not the only one–is Mister’s incessant mantra that he’s a “job creator,” that he’s all about “creating-jobs-so-America-can-be-great-again.” He whispers it in his sleep. I know this because I hide supine under the Master’s master bedroom in order to figure out why he calls himself “The Truth” early of a Saturday morning when he allows himself to sleep until six and Ma Romney’s not allowed to leave until she’s affirmed his efforts.

I hear him whispering to himself about getting strong again, assuming his rightful place in the world, and fulfilling the promise that was made on some damn hilltop somewhere I’ve never heard of. He sweats about it all over the house, but mostly in the bedroom: “I am a job creator. I am doing the work that was set before me. I am a job creator. I work for a living. I do leveraged buyouts. I am a job creator.”

I don’t know what most of this means, but he seems pretty serious. It makes me think that he’s trying to talk himself into something; it makes me think that his boys will one day find him out.

By monday morning Ma Romney is weeping again.

One Day Alone

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I don’t know what came over me, but I had to chew. I worked my way through Ma Romney’s jelly shoes and then I removed her shoulder pads from every one of her blouses and ate them quickly and with prejudice. But I still felt empty inside. I moved on to Tagg’s spangled Chuck Taylors, but when I finished I was even more confused: Should I be disgusted with myself for eating them or with Tagg for wearing them? Life is full of difficult and unanswerable questions.

I knew I was acting out, trying to impress Molly Sprinkles, maybe, but she never pays me any mind. A more difficult cat to impress you won’t find unless you hook up with that badass Morris on the electronic television. He’s got a sweet deal.

I had been in the house alone from the darkness of the morning to the darkness of the Massachusetts winter evening, and I don’t know but something snapped. I knew I was in the wrong, “making-bad-decisions” as they like to say in this house, “not thinking it through,” “following-my-little-thoughts.” I was lost.

But there is something liberating about transgression, isn’t there? I could dance through the house all by my lonesome, tearing down the curtains and I know they would never raise a hand against me, even though I deserve it—even though I Want It.

Tagg hit me once when I was a puppy after I micturated on his bed. He stuck my nose in it, as if that’s supposed to endear me to the family. I wish that part of Tagg hadn’t been killed. I wish he were here now to see this so I could experience his anger in its most fulsome blossom.

The Scream

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Sometimes I hear screaming deep in the night. Woof. Maybe they aren’t screams so much as muffled cries, as if someone were deathly afraid of being found out. As if, to tell the truth, a crisis was at hand. The family is full now: A Father who speaks with ghastly authority; a mother who whispers to herself and often talks to me and me alone (her secrets are safe); and five boys, a Chinese patrimonial wet dream if ever there was one. And then my two dears, Molly Sprinkles and Hiram Hiram, the-cats-who-keep-me-warm.

Hiram Hiram groused that the cries were coming more often now that Mister was away so much. I don’t know. When things go south in the middle of the night I scoot down to the basement and curl up next to Tagg’s collection of Cabbage Patch dolls. They’re so forgiving, so loving. They remind me of Ma Romney. Quiet. A little sad. She’s got some Patch in her, she does. Maybe some Erica Alyssa but not enough Jean Caley, the saucy one.

I will not judge her. If she needs to cry it out in the middle of the night, who am I, who am I to deny her this office? I am only the family dog, Seamus, brought here without being asked and happily ensconced inside this happy Massachusetts home.

The Dance

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This is one dancing family. Seems like celebration is everywhere. Even the Mister becomes a different person when His dance is on. He does what he calls his “Stop and Tremble” once a month or so. When they’ve danced their dance and the record cuts off, He shakes a little bit and His eyes roll back in His head and He actually moves across the floor in reverse and spins around a few times, as if He were on ice. He never makes a sound, and neither do we. It’s a special thing if you don’t get too afraid of what you’re witnessing.

I can see how someone might take it the wrong way, though. God knows the first time I saw the “Stop and Tremble” as a pup I was sure the end was near and doom was upon the earth. But Ma Romney calmed me with some loving words after I vomited. She said this happens to everyone the first time, that when the boy Tagg had his induction into the “Stop and Tremble” as a youngster he went screaming from the house and pulled his hair out in clumps behind the garbage cans.

Usually when Mister dances He reminds me of that Jackson fellow who’s all over the electronic television. Smooth as glass. The boy Tagg, on the other paw, thinks he’s got the moonwalk down, but all he has is blackface and one glove. He’s got nothing on Mister. I hope they have a dance-off one day. I’d give up my chow to see it.

Shame. Shamey. Seamus.

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I’m downstairs in the rec room trying to catch a breather from the cats (they won’t leave me alone, but this inter-species thing is disgusting), when I get paged. In the Romney house, when you are called, you had better move yourself lickety split. Especially when Mister sings out. I once heard him tell Tagg that he needed to know where to be before he was called.

Anyway, I make my way up stairwell number 3 (they call it the dog chute) to the third floor. What do I find but Ma Romney giving the youngest one, Craig, a bath in the Joseph Smith Optimist Toddler Bath Unit. But she isn’t hailing me. She has him soaped from head to toe, and she’s pointing down into the bath and telling him Never To Touch Your Shamey. That’s what she’s calling his little noodle. His Shamey. Don’t Ever Play With It, Either. You Can Only Touch It When You Need To Have A Winkle. She’s talking really loudly, too, as if Craig were deaf or Chinese.

I tell you, it put me off my feed. I felt sort of sick in my stomach so I went outside and ate some grass and threw up and then laid down with the cats on the veranda. I told the black one, Molly Sprinkles, that Ma Romney might be sending the wrong message to the boys. But Sprinkles just looked at me like, Hello, Where Do You Think You Are, Seamus? This Is Shame Central. Meow.

A Sad Day For the Romneys

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Something is happening. Mister came home early, around 9 p.m., and called Ma Romney into the office. I was under His desk enjoying a Mexican meal of Doritos with melted Velveeta one of the brood left on the table. It seems His hero, the old man they call Reagan and that Mister seems to worship, had upset the balance, had re-arranged some fundamental truth: a woman would be on the Supreme Court.

Mister and Ma prayed over it. They muttered breathy incantations. They spoke in soft whispers. They seemed to be juggling weighty questions. They finally came together in a soft embrace, and I almost thought I saw Mister do something genuine by looking at Ma Romney. She, however, misread the moment. “Maybe this is a good thing?” she asked.

I couldn’t tell whether it was a question or statement, but I knew one thing: It was time to slink out the hidey hole. We dogs know our human Others will give us a good kick when they’re pissed just to make themselves feel better. Many’s the time He stepped on my tail when I was asleep just for grins. And let me tell you, that really hurts! 

Well, I thought, now he’s mad at Reagan and Ma, so imagine what’s in store for me. I got out clean, but Tagg was at the top of the stairs in blackface again, simultaneously doing Lionel Richie’s and Diana Ross’s parts in “Endless Love” like a Tuvan throat singer. You’ve never heard sounds like that. It’s not cool.

My Friend Guthrie

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Guthrie my neighbor wandered over today. He isn’t terribly bright—especially for a poodle. Well, he says he’s full standard but I don’t really think he knows his own provenance, coming as he did from one of the many rescue outfits. Lot’s of them around here. Makes you think that people care. Yes we do. Yes we do. We wuv our aminals. I’m luckier than Guthrie, though. He lives with a family of slobs. You should see the place. Milk Bone detritus everywhere. Shoes just asking to be chewed. Dishes piled up in the sink. Dumbass Guthrie doesn’t mind as long as he’s getting fed, the Cretin. Good company overall, as long as you don’t ask him the time of day.

The Big Guy leaves early in the morning, 5:30 or so, sometimes doesn’t even come home. Sometimes he’ll let me out—doesn’t say a word—but then I’m stuck in the dark till the urchins march off to school like a pod of slapstick Nazis. Do you see me complaining?

This place is sweet. He must be bringing in the salad because no one complains, least of all me. Sure, Ma Romney cries herself to sleep and locks herself in the bathroom, but that’s her cross. They’ve got me a spot next to the dryer, which is tight in the winter. The hum lulls me, reminds me of my days as a pup when the twelve of us snuggled up to moms and suckled our way to bliss. It was a warm feeling, no jealousy, no petty rivalries. You should see these boys, though, as they cuddle up to the Dean. There’s not enough love in this house to keep this feckless brood warm. The sun shines but dimly, and the Mister doles out the affection like it’s 1932 and He has to keep the kids hard. He threatened to put Craig, the dumb one, out on the street to sell apples when he failed a first grade math quiz. Said That Boy Would Never Make It At Bain Capital. But they keep asking for the love. Like Lincoln said: too many piglets, not enough tits.

Next time Guthrie comes over I’m gonna hide him in the closet so he can witness efficiency. This house is a machine, Mister! Nothing gonna go wrong!

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