My family’s kajillionth listen of Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” was suddenly interrupted by the ringing of my cell phone on the car’s Bluetooth. This did not faze the Twins, who just kept on singing, reminding their audience that the cold never bothered them anyway. My wife and I had just picked them up from school, and like most school days, they’d gotten a fresh jolt of energy during the drive home, proceeding to uncontrollably kick the front seats and belt out lyrics with absolutely no regard for the melody or their mother’s migraine.
Without even looking at the caller ID, I answered. Typically my mother calls us on our drive home to see how the Twins’ day at school was. They’ve been attending semi-sporadically since the summer of last year, but as my PhD work has gotten increasingly demanding with each passing semester, we’ve slowly been increasing their weekly amount of school days. (And yes, I’m calling it “school” for a reason. This place has a big-kid curriculum, individualized learning goals for each kid, and even parent-teacher conferences. It is decidedly not a “daycare.”)
As you may remember, for most of the time I’ve spent on campus to do my doctoral work, my mother has very graciously taken care of the Dynamic Duo. However, due to some other important family commitments (which are beyond the scope of this Twincident), she’s been in and out of town, prompting us to seek other (tragically not-for-free) care options for the kids. The transition hasn’t always been easy, with several month-long plagues of sickness throwing off any weekly routine we hoped to establish, sometimes resulting in tearful toddlers at the morning drop-off, but lately, we’ve finally, finally, FINALLY found a groove.
And so whether she’s here in town, hunting Chupacabras in the Mexican wilderness, or scaling Mt. Everest to destroy the Eighth Horcrux, my mom calls us nearly every school day on our way home to see how the Twins’ day was, partly because she really and truly wants them to do well and partly (I’m guessing) because she misses them and wishes she could see them more often.
But when I answered the phone, I found that it wasn’t my mom after all.
“Hello?” I barked casually.
“Hi, I’m looking for John?” said an unfamiliar female voice, cranked to 11 on the car stereo while the kids were still screaming Frozen lyrics.
“Yes,” I called, clawing for my phone in my pocket to turn off the Bluetooth. “This is John.”
“Hi John, I’m calling about the position you interviewed for yesterday.” She hesitated for a moment, assumedly due to the stereophonic pixie voices booming, “I don’t caaaaare what they’re goooing to saaaaay!” Then, she continued. “Is this a good time to talk?”
I make a concerted effort to deliver the finest of content to you, O Loyal Reader, at least once a week, as I know most (if not all) of you hang on my every word. If I say so myself, I’ve been fairly successful at writing regularly, even in the face of crippling adversity. I have slept on floors, chugged boiling-hot energy drinks, dodged spit bubbles and Diaper Bullets, narrowly escaped a suburban coyote attack, balanced my ridiculously ambitious schedule, and still have been able to chronicle my escapades on this fine publication.
With that in mind, I’m delighted to share highly classified information with you about some shocking scientific research the U. S. Government has commissioned me to conduct. In the beginning, I was told “Mum” was the word (which was confusing, because I had previously been told that “Grease” is the word), but I fought hard for you all and got a Blanket Security Clearance.
I am in the process of writing up the findings for submission to whichever highly reputable academic journal wins the bidding war, but have summarized the data for you in the following chart:
This is Part 2 of the sprawling, epic adventure of Coyote Fugly, in which Our Hero wages war against a coyote ravaging his neighborhood. You can experience the thrill of Part 1 here.
. . .
Those who live in Arizona will attest to the commonality of suburban coyotes. These bloodthirsty mange-bags live in desert mountains adjacent to housing developments and often venture onto residential streets looking for unsuspecting stray dogs and cats to harvest loudly and painfully. In fact, the day we moved in, one of our neighbors who’d seen our dog warned us that she’d heard a neighborhood cat being mauled by a coyote just the night before.
And as I looked my canine adversary in the ass, I remembered this fact.
. . .
It was a desert-dirt tan, ears pricked straight up, tail flopping as it bounded down the sidewalk.
As soon as I saw this predatory perp, I sighed in relief. We were not in any uber-immediate danger–it was about a half-block away, headed in the opposite direction, hopping over landscape rocks and weaving around garbage cans. (He must hate Trash Day, too.)
Still understandably flustered, I turned back to the Woman Who Cried Wolf and awkwardly replied, “Thank you, citizen!”
Although I wasn’t staring Vile E. Coyote in the face, I still decided this was a still a pretty good cue that it was time to get the frick back home. Yanking my dog’s leash, I sped up, leaving the now-stopped apparent vigilante coyote hunter at the curb. Looking both ways, I turned to jaywalk to the other side of the street. No cars. Awesome.
But then there was a car. Headed straight for us.
My dog froze, again tangling the leash in the stroller, immobilizing it.
I was already mourning the morning walk.
Before we’d even traveled a block my dog had decided to lead the caravan, walking directly in front of the jogging stroller, her hindquarters mere inches from the front wheel. I don’t know why she insists upon this walking arrangement–maybe she likes to think she’s in charge–but(t) it never “ends” well for her, typically culminating in me literally running her ass over. It begins when she looks back at the stroller and decides she is terrified of it, so terrified that she freezes in place, causing the usually-taut leash to slack and wrap around the stroller’s back axle, putting us at a dead stop just after the tire bumps her square on the cheeks. I do my best to stop before the butt-bump, but she forces me to tailgate her at an unsafe following distance.
On this particular day, she had jumped to deer-in-headlights mode so abruptly and forcibly that it had pulled her harness clean off. (We attach the leash to her harness and not her collar because after years of scientific research, we have determined she would rather be choked to death than respond to leash tugs.) And because my dog just barely qualifies as obedient, I knew I had to act quickly on this leashless freedom unless I wanted to choose between:
1) chasing her around the neighborhood, loudly cussing her out while she thinks its a game, waking the Twins from their stroller catnaps and yielding a sterophonic meltdown; or
2) tritely employing the if-you-love-her-set-her-free-and-if-she-never-returns-she-was-never-yours axiom, which would most likely mean never seeing my beloved canine again, as she would surely make a grand exit from this life in Harry Houdini fashion while performing her famous freezing-in-front-of-an-oncoming vehicle trick.
It was in that moment that I remembered I am a ninja, as my keen, subconscious reflexes sprang into action, one-handedly snagging her by the tail, keeping the other hand firmly planted on the stroller.
She turned her head towards me, dumbly panting with glee, as if to say. “That was fun, Dad!”