Sure, you may have laughed at my misfortune in the past, and I’m sure many of you have sided with the beast, but this time… oh this time I had her dead to rights. This time I knew that I had her outsmarted, and naturally, that’s why it all went wrong.
It all started a week earlier. We had watched our movie, and consumed our pizza, and as is the tradition in our house, everyone piled their empty plates up on the footstool in front of me. There is no coffee table in the family room, and a plate left anywhere else is subject to a thorough cleaning by slobbering Newf tongues. Annie and Guinness both know that so much as sniffing a plate near the Alpha Daddy is grounds for fierce and ferocious reprimands in the form of well delivered, eloquent obscenities. Since no one wants that, the kids pile their plates in front of me.
Colleen is the only one among us who will not mindlessly consume every bit of food in sight, so she often has the majority of one slice left on her plate. Depending on where Collie sits during movie night, she may put her plate on the end table instead of the foot stool. The end table is outside the area directly controlled by Daddy, so the dogs consider it approachable. They (mostly) know that they shouldn’t outright steal any pizza on the end table, but it is a dangerous place for pizza none-the-less. Guinness is a good boy. Annie is a little fuzzy about the rules, and by fuzzy, I mean she just doesn’t care.
When pizza is left there, both furry beasts sit up, stare at the pizza, and drool. We’ve had Newfs in our house long enough that we’re no longer disgusted by drool, so that’s only a minor concern. The main problem with this situation is that their massive heads block not only the TV, but any possibility of the remote controls working. Annie also struggles with conflicting priorities when pizza is out in the open. She knows that she shouldn’t take the food, but she also knows that she could likely grab it and run before the old man could possibly get to her. For those of you confused about who the old man is, I refer you to my prior treatise on the subject.
Annie doesn’t fear me as much as she does Guinness. The big man (with apologies to Clarence) has a bit of a food aggresiviness problem. Actually it’s an Annie is too close to my damn food problem, and who can fault him for that? Hell, I have the same problem. He snarls and growls at her though, so I guess his opinion carries more weight. I snarl and growl at her too, but I don’t have two inch canine teeth with which to threaten her. So the two of them sit there, blocking the TV and all the remote controls, staring and drooling while I yell at them to move. Can you see how much fun and relaxing movie night is at our house?
To diffuse this situation, I pause the movie, then calmly and politely ask Colleen to bring her pizza upstairs. Any rumors you may have heard to the contrary, such as stories about me yelling to “get rid of that damn pizza” are also completely fabricated. Ten-year-olds have the greatest imaginations.
On this movie night, I politely asked Miss Colleen to bring her Pizza upstairs, after which she did so without a hint of muttering, pouting, or eye-rolling. After the pizza was safely away, we restarted the movie and enjoyed the the show in peace. We laughed, we cried, and all was well with the world. For about three minutes, thats how it went. Then I felt that something wasn’t right. Someone was missing. Where is Annie? I wondered.
Within seconds I had it figured out; the she-beast had learned our predictable pattern. Annie knew that Collie brought the pizza upstairs, and she quietly snuck out while we were all distracted by that week’s delightful movie. The wretched beast was no doubt upstairs enjoying her own slice of pizza in the quiet of the unoccupied kitchen. I paused the movie, ran upstairs, and found nothing but empty plates. Annie was nowhere to be found.
I called downstairs, “Collie? Where did you leave your pizza?”
“On the counter.”
“Where on the counter?”
“Near the edge.”
“Well now it’s gone!”
The beast had tiptoed upstairs, hopped up on her hind legs, grabbed the slice and split—all without displacing a crumb. I found her standing on the deck, her tail hung low and her ears drooped in what I like to call the position of shame. She was just standing there, looking at me, licking her chops.
Lauren, of course, thought this was all quite funny. Then again, she still thinks that Annie is criminally misunderstood. I understand Annie perfectly; she’s a criminal. Like Javert in Les Miserables, I was bound to catch the escaped convict that kept slipping through my fingers. My very own black and white Jean Valjean had escaped once more.
Another week passed, and another Pizza and Movie Night™ ensued. We were delighted by the movie, the commentary was witty, and the pizza delicious. Collie didn’t finish hers, the plate went on the end table, I ordered it upstairs, and the game was afoot. Only this time I was ready.
I started the movie, but being the clever detective, I didn’t pay attention to the screen. This time I watched as the ferret-dog showed how she earned her name. Like a fantasy creature without bones, she poured herself out of the room without making a sound. She wrapped herself around the corner of the staircase, and keeping to the shadows, slithered up the stairs. There were no creaks, no clicks of nails on the hard wood. She knew where every creaky spot was, and she avoided them all. With all the stealth of a seasoned criminal, she was gone. Valjean was at it again, and I was hot on the trail. The lyrics to Javert’s righteous song rang through my head as I initiated pursuit.
…those who falter and those who fall, must pay the price!
I raced up the stairs with all the grace of a 46 year old fat guy who drank Mountain Dew instead of exercising. I had learned to be careful on the stairs, but I didn’t have the criminal experience of a escaped convict. As I raced up the stairs, my weight, slightly less elegantly distributed than the boneless beast before me, caused the floorboards to creak. At the sound of the creak, the beast knew she was caught. That’s when things went bad.
As I turned on the landing, careful not to trip up the stairs, my ears were treated to the sound of smashing dinnerware. As I bolted into the kitchen, I once again found the room empty, but this time, there were shards of porcelain everywhere. I ran out to the deck where I found Annie. She wasn’t hanging her head this time. This time I caught her in the act. I locked eyes with the beast. She had the pizza in her mouth, and judging by the panicked look in her eyes, I’d say that she knew she was caught. She was mine! At last! As soon as she saw me, she did what any smuggler would do: she lifted her head up, and with two mighty gulps, the pizza was gone.
At first, I couldn’t form coherent sounds through my anger. Again there was no proof. Only I had seen her eat it. It was my word against hers, and with a house full of women, my opinion was no match for big brown eyes, a fluffy head and a pathetic look that said, who, me? I was incensed. The wretched beast had won again. No matter what I did, she always seemed to get away unscathed. The best I could hope for was that she would get indigestion from hastily eaten pizza.
As she pranced away into the darkness with her tail high in triumph, I muttered under my breath with a snarled lip, “Bitch.”
There is a powerful scene near the end of Les Misrables where Javert, confronting the fact that his black and white view of the world was flawed, leaps from a bridge into the river Seine. I too have an image what I know a criminal to be, and she is black and white. My view is not flawed though. I just need proof.