[photo: my hotel room in atlanta, home of my blueberry night. if i broke down the cost of that room, each berry would've probably cost $50.]
funny thing about alabama and georgia-- you can't get your dog a flea bath without documentation of a rabies shot. the rabies tag, you say? could be a cheap counterfeit, purchased on the worldwide, underground black market of faked rabies identification. they need the paperwork, which, while simply a piece of paper, carries more weight than an inscribed metal tag. how i wanted to murder everyone, everywhere.
well, when i first found the fleas (i'd now found up to 9 of 'em), i started looking up dog groomers on my 'berry at 1 am (not on my computer-- i'd forgotten the powerchord in texas, or fleas might have taken it out of my bag). i aimed for somewhere near atlanta, where i was to arrive the next day, made a list, and tried to sleep, but it's hard when your dog won't sit still as he has *a handful of tiny bugs crawling around the area near his penis.*
i don't think i mentioned that, and i'm too lazy to check-- fleas are most concentrated, or at least easiest to find, on a dog's groin. needless to say, buzz had trouble sleeping, and i tried to be positive since this incident took place on our 6th anniversary, and he had fleas when i adopted him, but his fur was so thick back then you couldn't see them (or his penis, actually, but that's another story). so i slept like shit, and we left the overpriced hotel early the next morning. i tried to make the hotel worth it by taking a shitty muffin from the breakfast buffet (buffet = table with 5 wicker baskets full of bread goods on it and a toaster to make them edible). and by reminding myself i might have given the hotel fleas.
[photo: i'm photoless here, so apropos of absolutely nothing, here's mike myers in a hockey sweatshirt. wayne campbell, btsh...see, this my 8-year-old self would be proud of. although wayne's world didn't exist yet. so maybe not.]
since all of the georgia groomers required rabies paperwork, i tried to find some sort of relief at a petsmart (btw, this all went down on a sunday, so my vet's office in nh wasn't answering the phone. just so you know i'm aware how fax machines work). besides, everyone i called told me that, since buzz is frontlined, he doesn't actually have fleas-- he just needs more frontline and time for the fleas to die-- but i had this nightmare vision of getting home to nh and the *5 dogs* that live here (sure, not all at once), having one pup get close to what would now be my flea-ridden car, and then watching my mother cry as we're forced to flea bomb the house on the day of my sister's wedding, killing all the floral arrangements and melting my brother-in-law's beloved ice sculpture (that he's since admitted is an incredibly stupid idea, god bless 'im).
so i stopped in the petsmart in montgomery, al, walked out with armfulls of (flea) poison (and some greenies), and, in the 90 degree heat of the parking lot and in the full view of god and all of humanity, proceeded to massage my dog's groin with zodiac flea spray. i mean, i did his whole body, but holding him in my arms baby jesus-style, rubbing poison around his doggie junk without any protest on his part (if anything, he was way too into it), watching the fleas die by my mighty, poisonous hand...if i ever had dignity, i sure as shit don't now.
i got a vet in GA to sell me a pill that'd kill the remaining fleas on buzz within a half-hour of ingestion, and that seemed like a wedding-saving fix for now. so as we left montgomery and i thought, "no fleas at last, no fleas at last, thank god almighty, we have no fleas at last," i pretty much wanted to die.
the lesson here people is that being organic is all nice and good, but you can't fight organic with organic-- vermin is organic. if nature had it's way, we'd be walking parasitic cafeterias. nick had boric acid all over the rugs to kill those fleas, but all he did was provide them with a nice grainy beach to take a vacation on when they needed r&r from making his cat insane. if you get fleas, drink a diet coke, put extra nutra splenda in it, eat some olestra chips, and then BOMB THE FUCKING SHIT OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. for chrissake nick, you smoke! you inhale the equivalent of 8 flea bombs a day already! put the tom's of maine deoderant down, tell your pals you can't make it to the farmer's market, drink something strong out of a recycled jar, and unleash the vermin rambo within.
i went to decatur first to get buzz his pill, and then realized i had to find a hotel again. i had people i was going to meet up with-- teeter's excellent friends cooper and michelle-- but even if they offered to put me up at their house, there's no way i could accept since they have a dog and i wasn't going to risk spreading my cooties (well, buzz's cooties, but we are of one body and mind)(or not). so i agreed to meet up with them later, tried to thrift, was too tired/fed up by the same ol', not-necessarily fair eccentric town bullshit (see rant above), and braced myself for finding a dog-friendly hotel. sadly, the cheapest one i could find anywhere near the city was pricey as fuck, but since the past 24 hours had kicked my ass so badly, i was just looking forward to getting out of my car and the haze of zodiac fog within.
[photo: the hotel had haikus everywhere. obviously, i loved this, but at approx. $90/haiku, i could've whipped up a few myself, like, "my dog has vermin / no tears, eyeballs are sweating / someone kill me now".]
so i ended up in an insanely pricey hotel downtown. i've said this before, but why do only nice hotels take pets? how can the woman at the days inn say, sorry ma'am, we'll rent a room to 8 college kids and a keg, and to those to that nice man and his prostitute and her methamphetamine, but not to you and your dog. meanwhile, the hotel in atlanta had a pet spa, but might've also had a dress code. i consoled myself with the mantra, this is your last hotel. and besides, you're in atlanta, where the players play! and then i remember i've spent the last couple of days being completely played. visions of ludacris danced right out of my head (but jermaine dupri remained like a wiggum-esque deranged leprechaun on my shoulder. which is to say, actual size).
but then cooper and michelle rode in, white knights in their sweet standard transmission wheels, to take me to a soul food eatery. generally speaking, if a restaurant considers mac and cheese and cornbread two great sides that go great together, i'm good. so at least i got to eat well, and get delicious ice cream, and get to hear a lot of the one thing i really like about the south; usage of the titles sir and ma'am by those of us on the other side of the counter. i mean, in the service industry, you're usually instructed to kiss the customer's ass so shiny, it's amazing that the guy replacing your battery at verizon doesn't say, "and do you need help with anything else today, m'lady?" but when the woman at the drive through asks a dude if he wants sprinkles with that and he says, "no ma'am"-- to sprinkles-- well, shit.
btw, cooper and michelle did the artwork for teeter's record (hence, "cooper, thanks for the birds"), and i remember when teet met cooper a jillion years ago at sva, because she recognized him from being on jerry springer on an episode about fetishists or something where he came on as someone who likes to wear diapers. "you will never know the freedom of peeing and pooping in your own pants!" he famously said (but only for the money and chance to be on springer-- he's not so much a diaper guy). and then, when teeter recognized him all those years ago, she shouted that in his face by means of introduction. but whatever, they were ever so kind to me in my darkest, flea-corpse-y hour. bless you, sir and ma'am.
[photo: the cooper of old. he does not look like that now, even ignoring that he now wears clothes, none of which have dri-weave (tm).]
after delicious frozen treats, i was exhausted, as were cooper and michelle, so i got back to the hotel at a reasonable hour to pass out. i had the next day all planned out-- go eat breakfast at the flying biscuit (recommended by michelle, as i love biscuits, and she promised, no pork), get buzzo to a groomer since surely my vet would be ready fax me records by then, and then meet up with maysan, her husband c. (he's an initial guy, there's precedent!) and their kids, and go to the aquarium. i would also get a hotdog at the varsity, as i had planned ever so long ago. atlanta would not kick my ass. i would see the aquarium's famed whales. i dreamt of blueberries.
but when my alarm went off, i already had a message from my vet; please note that while i love my vet, her assistant/vet tech whatever seems to, for whatever reason, hate my fucking guts with all the power her novelty paw print scrubs allow her. (when i returned and shared my woeful tale to a friend in town, she told me said vet tech is like this with every "outsider," and that it took her 15 years to earn this woman's trust. and the thing is, there is nowhere that i am insider, except in the house where i write this and behind the wheel of my fucking car. so unless someone opens a veterinary clinic in my bathroom or in my trunk, you can see my dilemma.)
[photo: the view from my window; hotel room i can't really afford, flea bath i can't get buzz, tom waits show i can't go to. fuck a lot of atlanta.]
so i get a message like this: [in most wtf mean girls-y tone] [ps this woman's in her 50s]: hi, this is [hateful paw print shirt devil woman] calling from [buzz's vet], and...SIGH. first of all, i don't really know what records you need from your message, but just so you know, there's a $5 out of state faxing fee for those records, so i'm going to need your credit card number, SIIIIIGH. huh. looking here though, it appears that buzz's rabies vaccine expired two days ago, so...i don't know if you really want me to fax anything, ANYway. bye."
ok, so that part of the plan is knocked out. and no message from maysan also put the writing on the blueberry wall. see, i know maysan really wanted to go, but i also know it's long, long drive from va to atlanta, and that she has two small kids and a husband who'd just returned from a business trip, and a car that runs on gasoline, so...reality was starting to set in for both of us.
so i called her and called it off. i'd get my biscuit, see some of the sights on a list michelle was kind enough to send me (but see them fast, and park the car in the shade), eat a hot dog, and then go to charleston (i'll explain why later), then to maysan's in VA, all in one day, original plan be damned. so i'd drive completely out of my way to see one thing (not worth explaining yet), then drive back to hopefully get to maysan's before too late as not to wake up the li'l 'uns. and i'd have my fucking hot dog, dammit. suck it, atlanta.
so the biscuit was delicious, and that was a good start, but after the temperature rose, and the museum i tried was closed, and a woman at the varsity fully glared at me when i tried to ask her a question (i even called her ma'am!), that was it. i ate two meals in two hours and hit the road. andre 3000, take me away.
[photo: the famous varsity, as in, varsity-level assholes. moi, i'm 4th team travel planner/dog owner/not-moron.]
my reasoning for going to sc wasn't dramatic or anything, just hard to casually throw into the middle of all the flea bullshit-- i wanted to see a holocaust memorial co-designed by a friend of my family, robert stein. sure, i also wanted to see charleston, but the memorial was a big deal, and i didn't get to go during the unveiling, so what was another 5 hours of driving, anyway.
[photo: the memorial-- that's supposed to be a prayer shawl in the middle. i say that because the five co-eds tanning nearby in bikinis must not have been aware. "hey kimmy, where do you want to get some sun?" "gee tammi, maybe by the dead jew cage?" oy.]
and really, i got there, saw the memorial (effective, right? even though it's next to a statue of calhoun. i give up). then i went to ft sumter to look at the water (and squint to see the fort) and maybe feel a breeze, got some ice cream on king st, and then off to va i went. so it was nice to spend some time somewhere with no drama of any kind, even though the purpose of going to that somewhere was to see a fucking holocaust memorial.
[photo: the memorial from another angle. i was impressed.]
and you can see why it's taking me forever to write up this trip. not just because i'm not stuck in the wedding vortex, but because of the horror, the horror, etc. no, sir. i did not have an easy trip. it has been kind of therapeutic though. in so much as i'm reminded to be grateful that i haven't had to massage my dog's groin lately.
[photo: kristen schaal's excellent daily show commentary aside, this is a photo of where teet and i will one day reside.]
i ate bbq'd chicken at a place called bubba's. they also sold t-shirts (smallest size = XXL) and bubba's bubble bath (jojoba and mesquite?). i had my first hush puppy. i got the fuck out of the carolinas.
[(shitty) photo: the heart of darkness (not really, but the photo's dark).]
NEXT: VA, MD, NY, fin