The Charlie Bravo Story

The Curse

“May you live in interesting times”- ancient Chinese curse.

Dad here; rainy day at the Casa del Whackos, with no actual humans in attendance, but the canine census has been completed, with six snoring, farting hairballs sprawled across the bed. Toby, the neighbor’s dog, has temporarily replaced Micro Polo, who left this morning with Mom and Oba. The three of them are in four-wheeled quarantine enroute to North Carolina to prepare the rest of Oba’s earthly possessions for transport back to Arkansas.

So this self-imposed quarantine has taken slightly sinister turn; without Mom’s firm hand, the dogs now realize that they’ve got me hopelessly outnumbered and out gunned. I feel like it’s my first day in prison, where I have to watch carefully where I walk as to not tread carelessly into a rival gang’s territory. I have not had the opportunity to form alliances with any of the other inmates, as Charlie has them all firmly under her paw, and solitary confinement is my only hope for safety. But even that is not the answer, as there is no such thing as solitude at the Casa, with the bed and even the (gasp) bathroom simply being other places to expose my vulnerability and allow the dogs to pile on.

And before you can ask why I didn’t travel to NC with mom; I’ll tell you a story: when the kids were small, we took a road trip. Mom is usually a very good traveler, as long as you overlook some of her “quirky” proclivities. One of these is the inability to pass a truck stop without having to go inside and reduce their inventory by a third. Imagine Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber”, with the foam hat, the paddle ball, and armloads of beef jerky and other snacks as she waddles out to the car, with the manager of the establishment bowing and scraping and thanking her profusely for helping him make his monthly sales quota in less than 10 minutes.

Ten minutes. That’s the ten minutes that I had gained over the last two hours of playing “Beat the GPS”, driving like an insaniac and risking a Performance Award from the local constabulary, only to see the time gained vanish, minute by minute, as I sit at the gas pumps waiting, always waiting, stewing in the juices of my own impatience.

Not that I’m bitter.

Then the things she buys to eat while she drives; they don’t even go together. On this particular trip, she came out with a dill pickle. And sour apple gum. And a Red Bull, if I remember correctly. These all produce odors in an enclosed vehicle that by themselves aren’t too unpleasant, but when combined, create a miasma that could destroy any virus, regardless of it’s origin.

Then throw into the mix: feet. As it was wintertime, she had the heater set to “fricassee”, and it was blowing superheated air up out of the floorboard. I was sound asleep in the passenger seat when the combined odors reached my nostrils, a toxic funk henceforth known as “devil’s armpit”. This aromatic experience, enhanced by the gagging sounds coming from the two sub-humans in the back seat, jolted from my slumbers, and I hold her personally responsible for some of the dain bramage I suffer from to this very day.

Now add to this scenario an 82 year old Okinawan mother-in-law and a chihuahua with the combined bladder capacity the size of a thimble, and the resulting pit stops every 7.65 minutes, and you think I’m going to volunteer for that kind of hazardous duty action? I think not…

So I decided to take the heroic route and volunteered to stay home with the dogs, watching the freak show unfold on Facebook as people are losing their ever-loving minds over this virus. Do I discount it? Absolutely not. Do I have any answers? Not a one, unless it’s the fact that nothing is as bad a worrying about it.

People keep wondering when things are going to get back to “normal”; I’m not so sure I hope to see that happen. Two weeks ago, “normal” was thinking that an actor’s opinions were more important than a nurse’s actions. That a media’s pontificating was somehow more helpful than a community pulling together. That a sporting event is more meaningful than spending time with kindred spirits. That there is much more that divides us than unifies us.

If that’s “normal”, may I never see normal again.

But alas, it will return to normal, whatever the new normal turns out to be, and within a short time this whole episode will be like it never happened, or at least happened to someone else. WWII, 9/11, the AIDS crisis, etc, the human race’s strength and weakness seems to lie in our inherent forgetfulness. And thanklessnes. But for now, we still remember, and I for one am thankful for this family that reaches around the globe, brought together by the improbable story of an emaciated black dog left to starve in a crate. As in the example of Charlie Bravo, there is always hope, even if the crate is made not of plastic and metal, but of fear.

We be of one blood, ye and I

(And don’t tell Mom I told about the feet)

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