July 29, 2011

Rumpelstiltskin

This is the story of playing a game of guess my name.

I have a story that I have thought was amusing, and every time I tell it in person, I get good feedback on it, so I thought it deserved its own post.  So, here's my yarn about how Grimm's Fairy Tales made an appearance in my romantic life.

I had met a gentleman through a dating site a while back.  He was my age, professional, and far enough outside of the mainstream to keep me interested (meaning he had an interesting worldview, deliciously long hair, and was right out of a Gothic romance novel.).  We'd been conversing for a little over 6 weeks before we finally agreed to meet in person.  After we'd been out once or twice, he'd told me that he was having car trouble and was trying to find a part.  I told him that I knew a mechanic who worked on his make of car, I can give the guy a call.  My efforts ended up saving him some cash, so I joked with him about it, asking if that was enough to be told his last name.  Actually, I said something along the lines of "So, are you going to ever tell me your last name, or shall we continue playing Rumpelstiltskin?".  Up to this point, I hadn't learned it, so I thought that was a charming way to ask.

Well, he said he could have sworn he'd told me his name, but he kinda liked the idea of making me guess.  Alright, I'm down with a good "chase" like that.  Bring it!.  He gave me three clues.  It was a Germanic name, can be spelled with or without a silent D, and it's single syllable.  Psh.  That would require me to play fair!

Now, let me say that I don't spend my time obsessively googling people I take an interest in.  Your bunnies are safe from me.  However, in this case, challenge accepted!  I googled my competitive little heart out.  It took me a few hours and several search engines, but I came up with the goods.  (Also, let this be a warning, I didn't have to spend a dime and found out his home town, names of his family members, the high school he went to (he wasn't a local either), his cell phone provider, his facebook page, his myspace page, where he graduated from grad school, and the name of his supervisor at his job.  All I had was a photo, an online moniker, a cell phone number, and a first name.  The internet can be used for good and for evil.)

Now being that I'm a weird kind of devious and enjoy being smart and resourceful, I came up with what I thought was an awesome way to unveil my guess.  Let me preface this by saying that once I came up with the following idea, I did run this past a few of my friends; both male and female.  I got good feedback and encouragement.  So, if this is creepy, I'm not alone on this sinking failboat.

Now, for those of you familiar with the classic fairy tale, you'll remember that the miller's daughter is locked away in a tower to spin straw into gold because the miller bragged she could.  Her first born can be saved by that odd little man, but only if she guesses his name.  She searches far and wide for unusual names, but ends up getting it right because he is celebrating a little too early and yells it out as he's drunkenly dancing around the campfire. 

So, here's what I did.  I enjoy writing, and had a bit of leftover resume paper in my computer room.  I took a piece of it and crumpled it up, smoothed it out, and then crumpled it again.  I did this over and over till it looked old and worn.  I tore off the edges so it looked more like parchment, and singed the edges with a lighter.  I then took my felt tip pen and wrote out a short verse I'd come up with and signed my name to it.

Begun in mirth
finished in verse
So good to make your aquaintance
Mister Dxxxxx Mxxx.

That completed, I moved on to round two.  I stopped by my local Borders (RIP) and bought a small copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales.  I picked up a spool of golden embroidery thread from Hobby Lobby, and headed out to my parents' house for some straw, some ribbon, and a box.

I put a bookmark on the first page of the Rumpelstiltskin story, and laid the book down on the bed of tissue paper and alfalfa I'd put in the box.  I put the spool of golden thread next to the book, wrapped them both in the top of the tissue paper, and put my note on top.  Then, I closed the box and tied it shut with a natural fiber ribbon.  My plan was, the next time we got together, I'd present it and I'd either be right or wrong.  (I was 98% sure I was right though.)

*sigh*  The best laid plans though, right?  He called a day or so later asking if I had a guess.  Well, I caught a case of the stupid and said I did, but I wanted to make it in person.

You know how you get that sense the split second *after* you've done something to change a person's perception of you? Yeah, totally happened here.  I think that caught him off guard and made him start thinking I was some kind of stalker because his responses suddenly got really guarded.  We got together over dinner a couple days later, and I could present my gift/guess.  (I was right, by the way.)  I think he enjoyed the effort I put into it, and I learned that this particular story was one that he has a personal connection with.  I thought I did something really cool and clever.  Who knows what his thoughts were.

In the end, we just didn't gel.  Last I knew, he's still with the woman he met immediately after me.  I wish them well.

July 28, 2011

To Spell, or Not to Spell

I was poking around CNN.com when I ran across this article:

  http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/28/is-casual-sex-worth-it/?&hpt=hp_c2

I'll admit, the title and the subject of the article made me curious.  So, I read it.  Then, because I was either bored or felt masochistic, I read a few of the comments.  Ow.  Pass the Advil?

First off, my initial reactions are this: For someone who "isn't trying to scare people away from casual sex" the tone tells a different story.  Guarding against STIs is important, and so is being regularly tested.  However, of all the avenues to take when discussing the joys and pitfalls of getting your rocks off, this one is pretty judgmental.  There's nothing like having some e-reporter call people who aren't afraid of their sexuality dirty disease magnets who also participate in other seedy activities such as drinking, sex without protection, and wearing white after labor day.

Ok, I'll admit.  I threw in the white after labor day thing for a laugh.  But here's my point.  You may say that's not the case, and I'm just reacting to some truth within myself.  However, if you look, there are no statistics about homosexual sex to compare to in the article.  All data provided was for heterosexual encounters, and that's biased if you ask me.

My second reaction that I feel is worth noting is that this is presented as a research piece.  So, like a resume, you'd think that the author would want it to be typo free and grammatically correct.  Well, I would.  Now, before we go calling me a pot and this a kettle topic, I know.  I have a $5.00 vocab and a $0.25 spelling budget and a mind that tends to like to take the scenic route.  But, I write for my own amusement.  I am not being associated with a news outlet, or presenting myself as a scientist.  Just an armchair smartass with an opinion and the ability to type 80 words per minute.  So, as I'm reading the comments, I see several people throwing out the entire article because the author can't spell "abstain".  Then, there are people defending the piece because we should listen to the intent and not care about the details.  Well, somewhere in the middle there I think is the truth.

Here's my thing.  If you want to be taken seriously (and this applies to every written communication; email, resumes, articles, etc) you really need to make sure it's correct if you want to be taken at face value.  A very good example that's top of mind for me is the Paizo Pathfinder core rulebook.  It is absolutely riddled with typos, and as such, is hard to read/use.  It seems amateurish and hard to become immersed in when all you're doing is mentally correcting the author's homework.  I know that it was one typo in the above article that was raked over the coals, but given the nature of the topic, that's something to be aware of before you publish.  Once it's on the internet, it's there forever (says the woman who posts about the passing of her vibrator).

I raise this issue because I've recently been conversing with a professional gentleman that I have only virtually met online through my infamous dating profile on OKCupid.  He seems to have a respectable, white collar job that requires some passion and education to perform.  However, because I have only met him using a text/voice medium, my impression is that he...  How do I put this.  Well, his texts and emails read like something I would expect to see a high schooler to send.  I can accept the occasional typo, lack of grammar, and shortcut (using ur instead of your, etc.  It makes my teeth hurt, but now and again, I can abide.).  However, if I have to reread your correspondence twice to just understand the words you're going for and a third time to know what you're trying to say and you don't work a job with your name on your shirt, then you need to take a look at an option like this. </run on sentence>

My point is...  Well, perhaps it's less of a well defined point as it is a vaguely sharpened opinion.  Regardless, what I'm getting at is if you're going to rely on how and what you say to represent you outside of your corporeal self, make sure you're sending the message you want to send.  There's a whole lot of talking going on between the lines.

July 16, 2011

A Note About Ad Placement

I went to school for a BJ.  No, really.  I have a Bachelor's of Journalism.  Advertising, specifically.  Which is exactly why, when I logged in to OKCupid this morning, I had to both cringe, and laugh a little when I saw this:


Ladies, I don't know about you, but I rarely am feeling kind, gentle, forgiving, and magnanimous while that bitch Aunt Flow is in town.  Usually, most of my higher brain functions are being used to determine the shortest path between myself and the food I'm craving.  So, to see an ad about tampons surrounding the smiling faces of single and or available men just struck me as a hilariously bad use of advertising dollars.  And, well, you know me.  I'm kinda lippy.  And, I think I'm funny.  So, I sent the OKCupid staff a little note.  As you may read below.

Guys, (and gals) make no mistake, I adore your site and have nothing but love for you.  However, today I logged in and just had to scratch my head when it came to your ad placement.  There, in glorious pink, surrounding my list of "You might like these chaps.  These right here.  On the top of the page.  LOOK AT THEM!" matches, was an ad for Playtex Tampons.


Now, I'm not complaining about the relevancy of needing to make a choice about the feminine products I need to use once every 28-30 days.  Nay nay.  It's a heady decision to choose plastic, cardboard, or the scandalous option of NO applicator.    My complaint is that I'm not really feeling all that amorous when I'm in need of them.  You know, because of the cramps, clots, and the homicidal tendencies if anyone gets between me and that pint of tiramsu ice cream in the freezer.  So, diverting my attention to whether I'm fully stocked for the next time my vajayjay bleeds from the smiling faces of single or available men just.  Well, it doesn't work for me. 


In short, I'm asking that, perhaps, that particular ad be pulled from rotation.  In the immortal words of my fellow members of the Bad Behavior Support Group, I'll give you a whole dollar if you do.


Yours in snark,
Ephemily

July 14, 2011

Making It Right, The Only Way I Know How.

I had the unfortunate experience of hitting (and sadly, killing) a dog on 72nd street a few weeks ago.  At the time I was, in a way, lucky enough to meet Charlie’s owner.  I was consoled to know that he was a family pet, and that his life, however short, had been meaningful and full of love.  I felt powerless to be able to make it right in that moment, and the only way I knew how was to make a donation to the Humane Society in Charlie’s memory.  Sadly, I was unable to right away.  The accident caused quite a bit of damage to my little car, and it was undriveable because the radiator and compressor were in bad shape.  I had to scrounge up the money for my deductible and wait for the body shop to return my Donovan to me.

July 13, 2011

Holy Shit! Did I Just Sell My House?

I got an email from my Realtor today that reminded me of the fact that I haven't given you the dirt about what's going on with my house recently.  And whooo boy, do I have some news.  Jenny, the lovely and tenacious thing that she is, has been working on this mess since March.  We had showing after showing after showing.  It came down to getting an offer, and then two offers.  Then, we lost an offer because the buyer's funding dried up.  So, we clung on to the second with all our might.  Finally, late in the afternoon on July 5th, the clouds parted, the Cosmic Choir harmonized in song as my agent dialed my cell phone number, and the Universal Symphony burst forth when she told me that the bank had accepted the counter counter offer.  Holy shit!  Did I just sell my house?  Four months of, at times, daily harassment, frantic faxing, and putting my life under the microscope and here's the day I've been dreaming of.

I'm going to sell my house!  I'm not going to have to arrange a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, or leave the keys on the counter and just walk away.  I'm going to be able to do this the right way.  Well, as right a way as a girl who both can't and doesn't want to afford it anymore can.

Write that down.  July 5th, 2011 is the day when the light at the tunnel was proven not to be an oncoming train.

So, what's next?  Hmmmm.  I'm not exactly sure.  Here's what I know for a fact.  I have to get the paperwork to my bankruptcy lawyer.  They then need to take that to the Bankruptcy court so they can approve the sale.  That will take something on the order of 20-30 days.  I don't know if that's business or calendar days.  I'll have to find that out.  I also know that the buyer has asked for a radon test, so we'll have to have that set up.  Once that's done, we'll need to close on the house and hand over the keys, garage door openers, and all the emotional baggage that goes with them.  (I will have the biggest shit-eating grin on my face as I'm doing it too.)  Somewhere in there, I'll have to find a place to live.  I have a wish list, and a few ideas, but I haven't signed any papers yet.  This is what I know still needs to happen.  What I don't know is if there are any delays once the courts get done with this sale.  So, now is the time to start looking.

Suffice to say, I'm so excited I could pop, and scared as hell.  Anybody need a roommate, slightly used?

Oooh Baby, You Get My Mind So WET!

One of the things I've always said about what it takes to really capture my attention is that a person has to be in my head.  While I thought that was vague enough to be helpful without being a demand, it has come to my attention that perhaps, that's not insightful enough.  What does it mean, exactly, to be in my head?  Well, it's no Konami Code, but here's my best description.

What I mean by a person needs to be in my head to be in my skirt is that, well, I need to think about them. Sure, sounds simple doesn't it?  But, that's just it!  I tend to let so much just slide right off that it's tougher than it sounds.  That, and when I say I need to think about a person,  I'm not talking about having the kinds of thoughts that require a dimly lit corner and some "Me Time". Granted, it happens, but I need more than that.

What I mean is, I need to think about a person in the down time of my day.  You know, in those spare, idle moments right in the middle of my mid-afternoon "Man I wish we lived in Spain so I could be napping right now" time.  I want to be out shopping at some gadgety place like The Afternoon or my favorite bookstore and see something and think about how much the object of my affection would like that.  I want to be wiling away the time in front of my laptop, browsing stumbleupon and find an article on a topic that we'd been discussing.  I want to have the urge to fire off an email, furthering the conversation with a "Hey!  Look what I found.  Were't we just talking about this last week?".

I want to be able to use the entirety of my brain and personality with a person.  I want to talk about the difference between a PET scan and an fMRI in one breath and talk dirty to you about what I want to do to you the next time I see you in the next.  The thing is, in order for me to really let out either I have to be sure.  To let the "Smarts" out, I have to know that you are either interested, or have the ability.  To show the predatory side, I have to know not only that it's ok, but that you're interested.  (Breaking that seal is the hardest part of being with someone new.  Once I'm past that though, and know the interest is there, it's MUCH easier.)  Call it past experience/conditioning.  When you scare off men because you're too aggressive, libidinous, or kinky, you tend to learn from it and keep it under wraps.

Here's the thing; there's not a human alive that's seen all the aspects of my personality laid out in the same place, at the same time.  That's not to say that I keep all of me secret.  Sure, there are aspects that will never see the light of day.  But, what I'm talking about is like this; one person will see A, D, and L.  Another will see B, M, and Q.  I'm hoping there's someone out there that wants to see and can handle A-Z.  Not having to worry about what I do, say, or feel being repellent to a person will help me immensely when it comes to securing VIP space for a partner in my skull.   

This is important to me, not only on an emotional level (trust is a big deal, as it should be.  I don't have "issues" but I'm a cynic and a skeptic like that.) but an intimate level as well.  My beloved science points out that the brain is the body's largest erogenous zone.  If the mind is disengaged, the body has a hard time boarding the train to O town.  Not that I don't enjoy it.  Really.  I get the same effects whether I climax or not.  (For example, I'm a little more docile for a couple days, and my grins are dopier.)  So, it's not like I'm going to turn it down.  But, if a person can get into my head to the point where all the little nagging processes run for cover in the light of my desire, and I can keep 'em around for more than a couple months?  Oh yeah.  That's worth fighting for.

The first chapter in this How To Tutorial is here.

July 12, 2011

Brass?! More Like, a Gilded Pair

I have only been canned (well, officially.  I don't count having a temp position expire.) from a job once in my entire life.  I worked for a health insurance company (a pretty well known one too, actually) for about 18 months between 2005 and 2007.  I'll be the first to admit, it was the wrong job for me.  Not that I couldn't do the work, (Well, aside from troubleshooting medical billing errors.  That shit made me cross-eyed.)  but as far as meshing well with my peers, I was the red-headed stepchild. 

During my brief tenure, plenty went right, and plenty went wrong.  However, the most notable event of my employment was the injury to my back in January of 2006.  The short version of a long, complicated, and legal story is that I hurt my back moving equipment around for about 5 hours.  My shadow trainer told me that I couldn't leave before everything was done, despite my inability to stand up straight without leaning on something.  Add on top of that, believing the guy when he told me that if I went to the hospital and reported the injury, I'd be fired since I was still within my 90 day probationary period.  (I was young, stupid, and far too trusting.)  I ended up in the ER the next evening because I ceased being able to feel my feet and couldn't get out of bed without help.

Over the next 6 months or so, I went to doctor after doctor trying to fix my back.  I finally found the Rejuvenation Center in about March of 2006. (They employ miracle workers, I swear.  Jodi, my therapist is very good at what she does, and I credit her for my current level of mobility.)  Every weeknight for 6 weeks, I spent an hour on a DRX9000 machine with the express purpose of treating my L5 vertebrae, which was, in layman's terms, squashed, dehydrated, and beginning to bulge.  For months after the nightly sessions were over I was going through weekly PT appointments.  There were times I would hobble into the therapy room so drugged up and tightly cinched into my compression brace, Jodi wanted to know how on earth I was still functional.  Apparently, taking 4x the dose of flexeril and 2x the dose of percoset and still being in pain, much less able to walk was uncommon.  Who knew?

Meanwhile, my employer is reviewing my case and had decided that while I had had back problems previously, I had done enough damage to it at work to merit them paying for my Workman's Comp claim after all.  So, here I was, the black sheep of the department, costing them all sorts of money.  I wasn't well liked, and I wasn't helping the group to be as cohesive as it could have been.  It wasn't a tough choice for them to find a reason to let me go.  Once I was gone, they no longer had to pay for my very expensive health care bills.  (We'd reached an agreement that, because I hadn't reported the claim right away, they'd just continue to use the regular insurance instead of workman's comp, being that they were a health care company and all.)

Add on top of my getting canned, they tried to say I was fired for gross misconduct.  Not true, and the judge for my unemployment appeal agreed with me.  (Note to all employers, first of all, if you have your own legal department, consult them before you appear at a hearing so you know what you're up against.  Second, if you're going to have several witnesses, make sure all their stories line up.)  The short version is, if you're going to fire someone for misconduct, make sure that the manager and the director of HR are in agreement about what the employee did wrong in the first place...  So, instead of having to wait the whole 12 weeks before I'd see any unemployment benefits, I was granted all of it, including my back pay.  Whew!

here's where this gets relevant.  Today, I come home and get the mail.  Along with junk, and my parking reimbursement, I get a letter from said former employer.  It was a solicitation asking if I was in the market for health insurance.  Um...  Hang on a minute.

First of all, I have health insurance thankfully.  Second, you FIRED me, remember?  Why on earth would I want to send YOU money?  Third, even if I did want to send you money, I used to work for the department that would troubleshoot medical billing errors.  Call me bitter, but I don't want to run the risk of my OB/GYN fat-fingering something on my bill and having to call in and talk to vindictive ex-coworker #1 and have them see that I'm negative for the clap.

Now, they did include a postage paid envelope so I can send back their form with my interest.  I am tempted to write a sternly worded note along the lines of "I really think it would be in both of our best interests for you to take me off your mailing list.  You're wasting money on postage, and it's just pissing me off to get your solicitations."  However, in the interest of maturity, I think I will be content with just thinking about doing so while I grumble and crumple the papers up and throwing them into the trash.

July 5, 2011

Race For The Finish - Breast Cancer Dildos

Everybody has their own pet causes that they either believe in, contribute money to, or actively support.  My best friend gives time and money to breast cancer research.  She participates in Race for the Cure every year, has organized fundraisers, and generally supports breast cancer research with as many pink ribbons as possible.

We have some friendly teasing matches based on the color pink; her afinity and my allergy.  Perhaps the best was when she was chasing me around the lingirie store with something pink and frilly as I hissed and ran away.  Well, it used to be the best story.  That changed last weekend.

I know I wrote about the dinner, the car chase, the lost dog, and the happy reunion, but what I really want to talk about is the breast cancer research vibrator.

Here.  Let me show you what I'm talking about.



As you can see, it's a petite little thing.  Purse sized, if need be.  And I just can't take it seriously.  Yougurt?  Yeah, I can deal with that.  T-shirts?  Stamps?  Even Energizer batteries with a pink ribbon on them make some amount of sense.  But pardon me if thinking about the ta-ta cancer while I'm trying to get off is a mood killer.  However, that didn't stop either of us from snapping a picture and giggling about it for half an hour.  I even offered her "A Whole Dollar" if she'd include it in a fundrasing gift basket.  You see, "A Whole Dollar" the the curency of the Bad Behavior Support Group's goading.  She declined.

To me, this just goes to show two things; you can find advertising, slogans, or causes on anything, and life is pretty damn absurd if you look under the rug where the Normals sweep all the good bits now and again.

July 4, 2011

Celebrating Independence With a Housing Update

I figured since today is our day of independence, it would be fitting for me to write a little about where we are with the house.  It seems that while the two departments that have been dealing with the disposal of my property still aren't besties, at least the file on my short sale has been reopened and we're proceeding with a sale.

I got a message from my ex-husband the other day saying he got about 4 letters in the mail about the house.  I was pretty sure that I'd get them too, but haven't yet.  Honestly, I'm not really all that worried about it.  It's going to be warnings about coming current, the fees that will be assessed if/when I do, and how it's really important for me to pay attention to them.  Um, quid pro quo bank.  The house will either sell, or it won't.  The end result will be the same, I'm going to find a new place to start over. 

I got a call late in the day from Jenny, my real estate agent.  She told me that not only is there no foreclosure auction date, but the short sale file was reopened, and the bank made a counter offer to the buyer.  They wanted $5,000 more, which in the grand scheme is peanuts.  The buyer countered with $3,000 more, so they're still interested.  Eventually, I'm going to have to put my signature on more papers, and that's just fine with me. 

So, we're moving in the right direction, slowly but surely.  I'm glad to be able to sell the house as opposed to just leaving the keys on the counter and saying "It's been real.".  Truthfully, there were a few weeks there when I didn't think this was going to happen the way I preferred.  You know, with selling the place.  I thank Jenny for her determination, experience, and know how to get this done.  Hopefully, next time I write, I'll be grumping about needing more boxes to put all my crap into instead of dealing with paperwork and frustration.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

July 2, 2011

Saved by the Porn Store Back Door

To know my best friend and myself by our antics, you'd think that we're drama magnets.  I mean, even a normal night out for a few beers and some Lion King karaoke (I am not making that up.  I have never heard "I just can't wait to be king" sung at a karaoke bar before.) can end up with something on fire.  Last night, we decided to have dinner together at our favorite local pizza place.  In a way, it was foreshadowing since it was also the green room for the prior week's tragedy.  As we're sitting in our booth, digesting, my bestie reminds me that she still needs to make a field trip to the toy store since her favorite BOB stopped working recently.  We talked about the locations that were available to us, and decided on Romantix since she'd never been before.  I, having been to all of them in the area, agreed only if she drove.  That's several miles from the center of town, and I was feeling full, fat, and lazy.

July 1, 2011

The Short, Happy Life of Charlie the Dog

Sam and his nearest and dearest were enjoying a balmy Saturday night in the yard, lighting fireworks, enjoying time together as the sun's last rays slipped away.  Charlie, I can only imagine, was full of boundless energy, smiling, and running his people ragged with that puppy spirit that made him such a treasure to begin with.  This 1 year old puppy was a rescue dog, adopted from the humane society and given a loving new home.  I imagine he had a yard to play in, squirrels to chase, a rope to play tug of war with, and a warm soft bed to sleep in at night.  It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Charlie snuck food from the table, and when caught, used those huge puppy dog eyes to avoid a scolding.  (Those same eyes would work on me.)  On cold evenings, I can imagine him curling up on his person's feet, providing warmth and company.  I bet any windows facing the front door are covered with nose prints, and his talent was in getting someone to pay attention to him, especially when they're feeling down.  Charlie was full of vim and vigor, bursting at the seams and in a hurry to live his life.

I knew Charlie in life for about 3 seconds.  In that time, and the gut-wrenching hour afterwards, I came to learn how special he was.  My evening had been previously spent sharing dinner with one of my closest confidants at a local pizza place.  We'd spent about an hour or so talking Big Ideas, laughing at absurd things, and generally enjoying each others company.  We were headed home on a major street in town.  It's two lanes each way, and I was all the way to the right.  My friend and I were talking, the music was on low, and the windows were down so we could enjoy the night.

Twilight had set in, and it was somewhere between 9:30 and 9:45 PM when Charlie, in all his enthusiasm, darted out from the neighborhood  into traffic.  Like a greyhound after a mechanical rabbit, he was a streak in the shadows.  I didn't see him till he was in front of my right headlight.  Before my friend could finish exclaiming "Look out!" I had jammed my feet on the brake and clutch.  I wasn't able to avoid Charlie, and his body collided with my hood and grill.  I was able to stop quickly though, only pushing him about 9 inches across the pavement.  However, because my car is so small (It's a MINI Cooper) and low to the ground, I wasn't able to clear him, and I'm afraid the undercarriage may have further injured him.  I will never know if the initial impact, or my trying to get the car off of his body was what caused his death.  For his sake, I hope it was the first strike.  In my dreams, I tell myself that it was fast.  Nobody deserves the pain of a lingering death. 

Not knowing what the damage was, I pulled my car off the road and into the closest parking lot.  I didn't know if I'd get it started again when it came time, and I didn't want to tie up a major street.  After getting out and inspecting the front end for damage (there was what seemed to be very little, and at the time, assumed it to be drivable.) I walked back down the block to the scene of the accident. 

By this time, people had gathered around, and who I first assumed to be the owner was standing there, looking mournfully at the body of his pet in the road.  I was shaken, but neither of us were hurt.  The impact wasn't enough to set off the air bags (which is good since I don't much care to look like I went a round with Mike Tyson.  That, and there's no way I could have driven away since when they deploy, it disables the car.) and no other cars were involved.  In terms of people damage, it was minor.  In terms of emotional damage to Charlie's humans, I have no words.

I spoke briefly with the older man who was first on scene.  I apologized to him, saying I was so sorry to have hit his dog.  (I've never hit an animal before.  The bird who kamikase'd into my windshield at 17 doesn't count.)  He told me there was nothing I could have done.  He just bolted from their yard and took off full tilt.  When he heard the thump and the brakes, he knew he'd been hit.  I don't remember when it was that Sam and what I took to be his girlfriend arrived.  I could tell he was devastated.  I wanted to comfort him, tell him that I was so sorry about his dog.  I was afraid I'd be the evil driver who murdered their dog, but did it anyway. 

Sometime in the next hour, I made several calls.  The time is awash in lights, reports, and sadness.  The first was to 911.  They sent a cruiser with two of the area's finest to take a report.  They also sent the Humane Society to collect the remains and discuss the next steps for the owners.  I called my insurance agency to report the loss so I could get the claim started.  My companion inspected the damage to my car to see if I could drive it away.  Perhaps it seems cold, thinking about the authorities, insurance, and how I was going to get home in that moment, but someone had to do it.

While we waited, there were tears, hugs, and apologies.  I hugged Sam and his girlfriend, told them that I was so sorry for their loss.  Mine is only in time and money.  Theirs is in companionship and love.  Mine is nothing in the face of that.  They told me that I shouldn't blame myself, that Charlie was just wild and in the moment, and there was nothing that could have been done differently.  I was not to blame. There was hugging, crying, and the first stages of mourning.  Sam stayed with his dog, hand on his head, grieving the loss of his best 4 legged friend.  My heart broke for him.  That kind of love is rare, and to see it in person in such a time of loss can really be hard to watch.  I may have no maternal instincts, but I wanted to comfort this stranger in front of me anyway I could.

Not knowing that the police would exchange our information for us, I handed the older gentleman one of my calling cards with my contact information on it telling him to please send me his name and contact info because I would like to make a donation in Sam and Charlie's name to the Humane Society.  It might not be much, but I want to do something since, without my being on the road, the night might have ended differently. 

In the end, I don't know what happened to Charlie.  When I left to go look at the car a little more, the animal rescue officers were discussing cremation and had Charlie wrapped in a blanket and moved to the side of the road.  I hope he was afforded a dignified end.

Donovan, my Mellow Yellow MINI Cooper ended up with a dent in the hood, a couple broken pieces to the grill and hood, and a damaged radiator and AC condenser.  Sam's lady friend asked if we were alright to drive, or if we'd like her to give us a ride somewhere.  (I was floored by her generosity.  Say what you want about Omaha, but we have big hearts when you come right down to it.)  I politely declined, thinking it would be fine to get it the mile or two down the road.  I had about 2,000 miles left on the warranty, so I was able to get the car towed to the repair shop from my friend's house.  It was about midnight when the flatbed showed up, and I'm sure the neighbors were curious why their street was full of flashing lights.  But, I got all of my valuables out of the car and bid Donovan goodbye. 

Gary from Markel Collision called me bright and early on Monday.  We discussed what was wrong with the car, and told me that he'd be in touch with a prognosis and an estimate.  Later, when he called back, I was told that it was best that I hadn't driven it farther than the mile or two to get it back to my companion's house since there was damage to the radiator and compressor after all.

I was able to borrow a car for the time he's being worked on, so that's good.  I haven't done more than commute from work to home since I don't want to burn too much gas in the little Honda I've been driving.  I'm thankful to have the wheels.  It's Friday of the following week, and my Donovan is coming home from his little Plastic Surgery adventure good as new.  I missed my little buddy. 

I'm still planning on making a donation to the humane society.  I know this has been tougher for Sam and his family than it has for me.  I would like to at least minimize that if I can.  If you're interested in participating with me, here's the web site.  Even if you don't want to donate in Charlie's or Sam's name, they're a fantastic organization.  All of my pets have been rescue animals (I'm a rescue human after all, it makes sense to support that cause).  They can use any and all help they can get.

*Edit.  It is March 13th, 2012.  In an unrelated conversation with my insurance agent, I came to find that the deductible that I paid for the initial repairs was recovered by my insurance company the day prior.  I should see that check in the mail in about 7 days.  The irony here is that as of today, my dog is at the vet with a UTI and I was worried how I was going to pay the bill.  It seems that I will be able to use these funds to care for my own dog.  The universe works in strange and mysterious ways, if you listen.