Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Saturday night

Last night I decided to take my wife out to dinner and a show.

“You know this is an Italian restaurant, right?” she said to me while we sat in our booth and awaited our entrees.

I did know it. So what?

“You always say you hate Italian food.”

Hate being a strong word, I usually reserve it for a few select famous people in government. But, no, I generally don’t like Italian food. In my mind, trout (which I usually order there) or seafood with pasta isn’t “Italian food.” It happens to be food I like that one can find on the menu of this Italian restaurant.

Over dinner, she showed me her nail polish.

“See this? This is my favorite nail polish. I get it at CVS.”

She and I have been frequenting the same CVS in our city for the 30 years since we moved here. I can’t speak for all CVSes, but ours has always been a little lacking in basic store management:  things are stacked in the way of foot traffic; aisles get rearranged so nothing is ever visible from any direction; cashiers approach their registers like they’ve never seen one before; and of course there’s the nine-foot-long receipt that I so hate that I now refuse to tell them my phone number lest I get handed one.

“So now I go to CVS to get this nail polish,” she continued, “and they’ve discontinued it.”

“What do you expect?” I say. “It took them 30 years to figure out how to line people up to pay.”

Which is completely true. It had been unclear how to approach the checkout area, so people would clump into little groups, trying to figure out the right angle of approach. It was not unusual to have some of us waving each other in: “Oh, go ahead.” “No, I think it’s your turn.” “No, isn’t it you now?” Now, finally, they’d laid down carpeting with big arrows on it, and set up guylines. Other stores somehow manage without arrowed carpeting and stanchions, but CVS needed everything. I’m surprised they didn’t lay in a cattle chute.

After dinner, we walked over to the nearby comedy club. Larry Miller — this guy — absolutely killed me. Granted his whole routine had a certain relevance, being  about the difference between men and women, and very helpfully laying out how irritating some wives can be when their husbands are driving, and I’m in his debt for his doing so within earshot of my wife so that she could take it in and perhaps see just how relevant it was, but beyond that it was very very funny. Trust me on this. After that, I was blown away by Jimmy Brogan. This is the second time I’ve seen Brogan, who for nine years was a writer on the Tonight Show and 30 years ago took over for Joan Rivers when she left her own talk show, and I think he’s a genius. He doesn’t have a lot of written material — he just wings it, off interactions with audience members. Over the course of about 30 minutes he can remember what was said by about 20 different people at different times, weave them together, call back to them, and not only make it an ongoing bit but also build it and have an instantaneous comeback the first time. That’s a real skill. The only other comic I’ve seen who can do this as well is Dame Edna (high praise from me), and I told him that.

We got home, and I spent a little time again trying to build up Sumeria against the competing demands of India and my own people who insist on more amenities. (They should try their luck at CVS.) Then I went upstairs and told my wife that I’d like the dogs to sleep downstairs, for exactly the reason you imagine.

“They’re going to be mad,” she warned.

Like I cared. These dogs get two walks a day, a spacious back yard, lots of treats and toys, run of the house, and a personal cook who keeps prepared meals for them in our refrigerator when she isn’t buying nail polish at CVS. And unlike me, they don’t work 60 hours a week for that.

“They’ll be just fine down there,” I said.

She lured them down there somehow (I think by going down and opening the refrigerator) and that was that. Except a couple of times after that, she said, “They’re probably cold down there” (amidst their bedding and blankets atop our expensive leather couch? doubtful) and “I wonder what they’re doing” and, finally, “I’m sure they’re plotting revenge.”

In the morning I came downstairs and opened the door to the main part of the house and the dogs sprang into action like I’d been missing for years. The big one was wild-eyed at the thought that maybe my wife was immediately behind me somewhere and he could get to her. I closed the door to upstairs behind me and let them out the back door into that spacious yard but not before seeing a little pile on the tile area downstairs. Well, I thought, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and at least the little one left her load on the tile, where it’s easily cleaned up.

Over breakfast, I sent settlers over to the Roman continent, which got me a fierce warning from Emperor Trajan. My wife came down to talk to me and then stopped cold, lifted her foot and showed it to me. On the bottom was a large messy clod, courtesy of the bigger one.

She said, “I told you they’d be mad.”

2 Responses to “Saturday night”

  1. Joe Stafford Says:

    I was totally drawn in.

  2. Dan Says:

    Hmmmm… Are there New Yerar’s Resolutions for Dogs?

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