After a string of disastrous dates I decided to pursue a new relationship strategy. Did I want a girlfriend who would be loving and grateful (a Rescue Girlfriend) or one that would be stable and well-trained (a Service Girlfriend)? I opted for the former and visited our local rescue shelter (Our Lady of Mascara) on a scouting trip. Critics say these shelters are just meet markets where shifty men go to pick-up damaged women on the cheap. And while that may be true in some cases, it’s not true in this case because the man doing the picking-up (me) was just as damaged – and yet I’m considered the rescuer?
Body language is an important part of the initial encounter. According to the shelter, if the bitch (their term, not mine) wags any part of her body toward the male rescuer, she’s released to his kennel (my term, not theirs). And while the shelter may look for body language, from my Pavlovian male perspective, I look for a woman who smells good (more on that later).
A Brief History of Me
Hello everyone. Many people confuse my name with Itzak. It’s not Itzak. It’s Zak. My name is Zak. Even though it sounds like Itzak, it’s Zak. Yes, I’ve always been attracted to complicatedly clever things – like trolling The Red Lobster in search of battered fish. So it wasn’t out of character for me to seek a girlfriend at a rescue shelter. I’m highly advanced when it comes to things like 8-Track Tapes and VCRs, but I’m hopelessly analog when it comes to technology. In fact I broke two chisels just writing this piece. And for years I thought Twitter was a candy bar with a maximum of 140 calories. I’ve always been an old-fashioned, hands-on kind of dater and, according to some dates, being so hands-on was part of the problem. Consequently I pursued some digital approaches. I didn’t find much success with the online dating service BubbleButt.com. I’m not even sure it was a dating site. All I got were bulbous pictures for $29.95 a month. Later I tried one of those newfangled Snatch-chat apps, but being a man of a certain age I prefer things that are oldfangled or just plain fangled. For example I’m happiest when I’m bicycling, or dam-building or having Eisenhower in the White House. In other words, I like to bike, dike and Ike (my words, not Dr. Seuss’s).
But I digress because…actually I forgot why I digress. I just do sometimes. Like the time…oops – almost happened again. In any event, when I visited Our Lady of Mascara to scout around, little did I expect I’d be coming home with a well-adjusted bundle of joy named Sadie – a well-bred German Temptress. There were others: a Scottish Lassie, a Belgian Airhead, a French Wench and a Jewish Kvetcher, but Sadie stole my heart. How could I resist when she stared up at me with those big puppy dog eyes and began wagging her finger (a good sign they said). You try saying no to that level of unrequited adoration (Freud’s words, not mine). The clincher came when they let her out of her cage and she came right over and sniffed my shoulder. Then she nuzzled my ear and cooed, “You had asparagus today didn’t you?”
She was right! I did have asparagus. And I was right – she did smell good – she could identify asparagus through the haze of my Aqua-Velva. I really do appreciate when a woman smells good. It was then I decided to adopt her from the shelter; if I qualified. The Red Lobster thing didn’t work in my favor, but at least there was no record of it. I think the people who make these determinations sensed I had a hole in my heart the size of a Helen Reddy 8-Track and hoped Sadie could fill it.
The Adoptive Facilitator thought we’d be a good match and showed me all of Sadie’s information which, as you might expect, was on the paper. It indicated she’d been abused by a former lover. Apparently after a few months of cohabitation he completely ignored her and so she ran away from the neglect. She had so much love to give and all she wanted in return was a little attention (God’s psychodynamic, not mine). This played right into my strengths because (being slightly damaged myself) I had an abundance of unnecessarily complex humor to lavish upon her. The paperwork didn’t say anything about whether she was spayed, but being a woman of a certain age I figured the only protection we might need was a padded headboard. As far as shots went, I was hoping she’d be a wine drinker instead of the throwin’ back the hard stuff.
A Digression – This One is Planned
The universe programs us to forge bonds and procreate, although this is more prosaically referred to as “the urge to hump like Banshees.” It promotes this behavior to further its design – which, evidently, is proprietary information and available only to the universe. Why it’s withheld from us worker bees who labor in this paradigm, I’ll never know.
Wanna Go for a Ride? (Sadie’s words, not mine)
On the ride home I could tell it was all Sadie could do to not stick her head out the window and allow the wind to inflate her cheeks thereby exposing her ruby red gums. But even if she did I wouldn’t have looked at her teeth, because I learned early on: Never look a gift rescue girlfriend in the mouth. She knew she was on a short leash (my tortured analogy, not hers). It didn’t matter. I knew it was as much my probationary period as hers (my probationary period, not…I’ll stop this gimmick soon).
When we arrived home she was so excited I decided I better crate her for a while – in our 2400 sq. ft. house. I was relieved she took to the toilette without any training at all. It’s funny though, occasionally when we go for a walk I’ll take a little bag with us just in case, and usually I’m the one who ends up using it. We’re growing together that way.
There was an adjustment period where Sadie began to shed a little – mostly bad habits. At dinner she tended to wolf her food, but in time she slowed down and even began using utensils. I was careful to keep her restricted to the house until she acclimated. But one day I left the back door open and sure enough she got out. Do you know she came back 45 minutes later with bags of groceries and a Lady and the Tramp DVD. Now she has run of the house.
If you’re experiencing shortness of breath or a life threatening event, please put down your electronic device and call 911 immediately. Unless, of course, your electronic device is your phone. Don’t put that down. You’ll need it to call 911. Jesus, do I even have to explain that to you. If you needed that last instruction, maybe you shouldn’t dial 911. Maybe you should just continue with your shortness of breath or life threatening event.
Bark to Domestic Bliss (I know I said bark instead of back – my words, not…)
I loved everything about Sadie: the adoring eyes, her intelligence, devotion, steady demeanor and sense of adventure. I was intoxicated by her in a sustainable way and excited to share some of my treasured activities:
Me: Sadie, I want to take you to my favorite place. It’s a factory that makes cheesecakes.
Sadie: You mean The Cheesecake Factory?
Me: So you’ve heard of it?
Sadie: Yeah…it’s right next to that fornicating hamburger place.
Me: Oh, you must mean In-N-Out Burger.
Sadie: No. I think it’s called Fuddruckers.
We enjoyed our unnecessarily complicated humor. We had no choice. It’s all I had to offer. For example, everything in the bedroom was both hunky and dory – she called me Hunky and I called her Dory. But I’m not one to slobber and tell. Let’s just say she’s become my favorite chew toy – of all time. And then the inevitable happened; we got married and had a litter of our own. She became so much more than man’s best friend. Her growth, spurred my growth, and now I’m proud and happy to call my former rescue girlfriend, my wife. But it does beg the question: Who rescued whom?
Share the Joy
My marriage to Sadie was such an ideal match I told my down-in-the-dumps friend Gary about the Shelter and how rescue girlfriends were loyal, appreciative and superior to mail order brides in every way. The postage alone on a mail order bride is enough to finance a second home. Plus they have to be quarantined at the dock for 6 weeks or until they can pronounce the letter “L.” With rescue girlfriends it’s a quick $55 for distemper shots and you’re out the door.
As a young man, Gary’s first marriage got off to an inauspicious start when he and his bride were “joined in Holy Acrimony.” In their vows, instead of saying “I do” she said, “For now.” In the divorce settlement, her bulldog lawyer got her a percentage of his income – from his next incarnation. Once burned, not twice shy. His second marriage was going to be a mail order bride, but she was damaged in shipping (premature bubble wrap popping) and was returned to Shanghai on a slow boat to China.
With his dating life a bust and his prospects limited, I suggested he visit Our Lady of Mascara just to scout around. After driving there several times only to panic and drive away, he finally mustered the courage to go in. Gary brought home a few strays, but it never seemed to go well. A huskie Siberian woman named Svetlana (aka a Siberian Husky) didn’t quite work out. She was a little chunky, plus she was always rushin’.
Compatibility is a 2-way street. Occasionally Gary would find himself in their doghouse by being too needy. So when his rescue girlfriends got out, they didn’t return, despite the signs he’d put up in the neighborhood. But because they were microchipped, the shelter could track them. One turned up at the home of a very successful Venture Capitalist who’d enticed her inside his mansion by showing her his stub – his pay stub. He then sealed the deal with a diamond-encrusted collar – kinky bastard. Another rescue girlfriend left when, for their 2-month anniversary, Gary took her to dinner at a Wendy’s Drive-thru and then followed it up by binge-watching Welcome Back Kotter (No, up your nose with a rubber hose?).
After being abandoned by so many girlfriends, Gary couldn’t bring himself to rescue another. All that loss was wearying. He’d love them and they’d leave him. So I suggested he take another route and look into a Service Girlfriend. They’re stable, well-trained and very empathetic – almost telepathic. Their loyalty is unquestioned. Plus by law they have to wear a vest reading: Warning: Working Service Girlfriend. Do not pet. If no one is allowed to pet your girlfriend, your chances of keeping her increase greatly. It’s why Stedman and Oprah are still together and why Brangelina are no longer.
And the bonus part is (I mean besides that part), being a service animal (and I use the term “animal” in the noblest sense), they’re allowed to go anywhere with you – which can be embarrassing if you’re turning your head to cough.
Fittingly, the Service Girlfriend campus was called Companions for Life. It was located adjacent to the Our Lady of Mascara Shelter and its LGBT Rescue Annex where people who prefer sniffing same sex organs can potentially find the love that dare not speak its name. Gary approached the Service Girlfriend building with less trepidation as these were animals of a different kind. They’d been through the drama wars and had been substantially drained of their coltish friskiness. It had been replaced with a deeper more magisterial form of bonding. The zeal of the organs had been trumped by a slow-burn appreciation of our human predicament that perfumed their encounters with abiding love.
Gary walked away from Companions for Life attached to a very calm, very understanding woman named Beatrice. They met. They kissed. It was kiss-met. By example this serene and nurturing woman taught the agoraphobic Gary how to negotiate a busy stairwell and to observe proper elevator etiquette. She was very intuitive. Beatrice had a 6th sense whenever Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were co-hosting something on TV. Similarly, Gary could always sense when Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews were talking long distance. Beatrice was the one who finally convinced Gary that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings; and conversely, that every time a toilet flushes, Kanye West gets an idea.
Soon Gary came to love and depend on Beatrice. She grew to appreciate his brain-freeze humor and he doted on her like he was the service companion – turnabout is fair play. He imprinted on her to such an extent that his metabolism synced with hers. Their hearts beat as one, at an efficient 53 beats per minute and their blood pressure was a healthy mind over matter. It is estimated that every man has a woman who loves him dearly, and vice versa. However finding that woman can be an entirely different kind of animal.