By Blake Friis
I knew one thing for certain as I drove 90 miles per hour down the home stretch of a six-hour drive from Dallas to Emporia, Kansas – we didn't come all this way to eat lunch at Braum’s.
So, we exited the turnpike and pulled into Applebee’s.
I don’t make a habit of rising before the sun on Saturday and loading my family into the car for a six-hour drive to lunch at a franchise restaurant; It just so happens the Emporia Applebee’s marks the halfway point between our home in Texas and my parents’ in Iowa, which makes it the ideal meeting place when the health of a marriage requires unloading the family dog on one's folks.
|Welcome to Emporia|
We budget items we can comfortably live without. Last week we discussed the necessity of cable television and my iPhone – we both have iPhones, but only mine seemed a frivolous expense. We have since decided since my company offers a fitness center to both of us, the cancellation of our current gym memberships will free up enough discretionary income to justify keeping the cable. It is, of course, pure coincidence this decision coincided with my wife’s newfound love of true-life murder mysteries on the cable network ID.
My wife is like a great runner in baseball. She can steal a base at any time, and my defensive approach is let her go and casually toss the ball back to the pitcher, feeling I am better off dealing with the next batter. That's our marriage - aggressive baserunning against defensive indifference.
As her desire to live in a dog-free house intensified, however, I continued to step off the mound and look her back to the bag. Knowing my success rate, it was critical I never let getting rid of Elvis escalate past hypothetical chit-chat.
Shortly after Gabe was born, I wrote about the battle raging inside our home between my wife and our boxer, Elvis. My desire for our son to grow up in a household with a great pet lead me to dig in my heels on Elvis’s potential relocation.
The more we failed as dog owners, the more Elvis stated his displeasure by destroying everything in his path. I tried to take him for more walks, but my efforts proved futile. Summer’s patience was wearing thin.
It was only a matter of time until she broke for second base. I tried to throw her out this time, but Elvis intercepted the ball and chewed it to shit, just like every other goddamn thing in the house.
Still, when we handed Elvis over to my parents it was just as sad as I imagined it would be. I couldn't help but feel like I'd let him down and deprived my son of the opportunity to grow up with the unique bond a boy shares with his first dog. This guilt and regret were difficult to deal with. I was nearly half-way through the potato skins on the appetizer sampler before I was able to shake it.
In the weeks since Elvis moved to the farm – a real one, not the one in finger quotes where many children are told their castoff pets run happy and free – our life has been exponentially better. We never come home to a disaster in the kitchen, our patio doesn’t smell like a boarding kennel, and we don’t have to fear Gabe being injured by the paw of a well-intentioned, but dangerously hyper 60lb dog.
Thank goodness I never get to make the big decisions.
It turns out Man’s best friend is actually a happy wife.