Birthday bonuses

I neglected to mention that about a week ago, Licorice and I had our birthdays. (Hers is the day after mine, according to the rescue from which she came, and also karmic math equations wherein your birthday + a dog’s birthday the very next day = The One True Dog.) It’s hard for me to verbalize why my attitude towards my own birthday these days is pretty unenthusiastic. It likely has something to do with the speed of time passing, the unexpected loops life has thrown our way the last couple of years, and gravity. (Mostly that last one.) Regardless of the cause, my excitement for marking another year of my life is hovering somewhere between “NO” and “whatever.”

On my birthday morning I woke up to a very excited family, a pile of small wooden boxes, and a weird paper thing. Following instructions from Otto, I eventually assembled this tableau:

I still had no idea what it meant, and my family grew more and more impatient as I guessed things like, “We’re driving to a bench to sit with Smurfs?” and “We’re painting the truck yellow and then flying somewhere?”

To his credit, rather than either smacking or divorcing me, Otto patiently explained that he’d located an old drive-in movie theater about 90 minutes away, and for my birthday we were going to go see a double-feature of Planes and Smurfs 2. Then I was excited because a drive-in theater! So cool! But also I was a little frightened, because smurfs? Really? (Monkey: The first Smurfs movie was actually not bad, Mom.) It was totally cute how they’d made me this whole set of clues and everything, though, so mostly I was excited.

And then it poured down with the rain, and we didn’t go to the drive-in. Otto insisted they never cancel the movies, but I couldn’t see sitting in the rain for all that time, especially with it being so far away. We could go the next weekend, I assured everyone. They were so disappointed, I felt terrible. Like I’d personally arranged the crappy weather just to spoil my birthday.

The next day was Licorice’s birthday, and because she’s a dog she didn’t care in the slightest, so because I’m a big sap and I wanted her to care, DAMNIT, I went out and bought her a new toy. Most of the time Licorice only has a couple of Dura Doggie toys laying around (I have no company affiliation with them, I just love their products), because they’re the only ones she can’t destroy. (Seriously, this Beba is the best! toy! ever! according to our 12 pounds of terror, and not just because we refer to it as her “ballball.”) Give Licorice a stuffed toy, though, and she’ll be in heaven for about an hour.

First she’ll carefully remove any internal noisemakers—this is the emergency squeakerectomy—and then she will pick out all of the stuffing and throw it all over the room. After that, she will methodically destroy every seam, chew the whole thing into sodden scraps, and strut around like she just single-handedly saved the planet from evil. This is a process that Licorice adores, but it 1) makes a godawful mess and 2) makes my frugal self squirm a little, as I paid good money for that toy and she destroyed it. If I want to see my money wasted, I’ll buy something for my kids, y’know?

But it was my PRESHUS SCHMOOPYKINS’ BIRTHDAY, so while I was out running errands, I picked up a quacking duck for my furry little princess. Lord, that thing made a terrible sound. (It “quacked,” by which I assume they mean it made this awful bleat that registered about halfway between “sheep in distress” and “cow giving birth.”) No matter, though, because Licorice had the quack-box out in about ten minutes.

So that was the birthday weekend. Low-key, somewhat quack-y, and fine. We were looking forward to the better weather and going to the drive-in THIS weekend, and also it turned out that this weekend, Smurfs 2 was no longer playing, so I took that as a sign.

Anyway. The day before our family drive-in date, Licorice was tossing around the remaining scraps of her birthday duck, and she came running in to our room and leapt up onto the bed with a soggy orange duck foot, and Otto and I had a brief conversation about whether or not we should take it from her before she actually ate it.

Me: Nah, she’s just chewing on it! And that piece of felt is enormous, and besides, she doesn’t eat the stuff, she just likes destroying it.
Otto: But remember our friend whose dog had an intestinal blockage from eating a piece of toy? Emergency surgery, worry, hassle… we shouldn’t risk something like that.
Me: Don’t be silly. She’s FINE! She doesn’t eat toys!
Licorice: *chewchewchew* *swallow* *burp*
Me: Fuck.

Now we had to keep a close eye on the dog for signs of distress, because what if her snack of felt duck foot clogged up her pipes? What if she needed emergency surgery? WHAT IF I HAD KILLED MY DOG WITH HER BIRTHDAY PRESENT???

We followed her around and went outside with her (fifteen times a day, because that’s how often she needs to go out and sniff things and maybe eat a few blades of grass) and then before we knew it, drive-in night had rolled around and she still seemed okay, but hadn’t yet seen the duck foot, uh, emerge. So naturally we took her to the drive-in with us, because between the travel and the movies themselves, that would’ve been a long time to leave her home alone.

Off we went, and the drive-in was ADORABLE, and there were tons of kids and even a few other dogs, and we set up our camp chairs and settled in to pass the time before darkness fell and the movies started. Except Licorice was being a complete basket case; jumping on all of us, leaping out of the back of the truck when she decided she was done hanging out with the kids up there, whining, etc. Finally I said, “Hey Licorice, do you need to go potty?” and she all but bellowed, “YES, STUPID!” so I walked her over to the periphery and she squatted and peed. I praised her and turned to head back to our spot, but she pulled me the other way, and that’s how we ended up walking a giant loop around the whole drive-in space.

When we were as far away from both our truck and all the other people there as possible, she squatted again and pooped out… a duck foot. Like it was no big thang. (I’m glad we’d seen her eat it, though. Had that emerged from her hindquarters without prior warning, that would’ve been alarming.)

I praised her, picked up and disposed of her, uh, recycling, and headed back to my family. “No intestinal blockage!” I announced, with glee. The kids cheered, and the families on either side of ours decided we were crazy. I mean, probably.

Planes was pretty good, and because it was my birthday outing, Otto bought everyone the overpriced movie snacks of their choosing, which meant that he and the dog had some popcorn, and I had some Skittles. A jolly—if slightly delayed—birthday time was had by all.

Well, everyone but the duck.

Licorice, under the futon in my office, assures me that the duck had it coming.


  1. Lisa

    Hysterical! The scene of the duck foot…um…leaving Licorice had me laughing like a maniac. I can only imagine what you would have thought if you didn’t know to expect it!
    Glad you had an interesting birthday! LOL Happiness and Peace for you this year!!!
    Thanks for always inspiring me and making me think, usually with laughter involved even when tears sometimes follow! L

  2. Brenda

    I’m trying not to laugh hysterically at work, because ZOMGLOL! It’s amazing how much you can talk about poop once you’re a caretaker. Happened all the time when I worked at a group home, although none of my residents ever ate a toy duck foot. Huzzah for Licorice being just fine!

  3. Aimee

    Ha! Duck foot! That’s simultaneously awesome and completely gross. I bought my sister’s dog an oversized bright blue and red tennis ball, and he systematically yanked off and ate most of the felt covering. His deposits for the next week were… colorific.

  4. My Kids Mom

    I was a little apprehensive as I scrolled down to see what was in the photo. Happy Birthday and thank you for not visually oversharing!

  5. Dezi

    I feel the same way about my birthdays, but I’m glad your family makes a big deal out of yours because you are awesome, and you totally crack me up and always make my day better just reading your post. Your post is the only one I follow, JSYK, so when you miss a day, I don’t always get my laughter fix!! Yes, I am trying to unload on you a guilt trip, something my kids tell me I am very good at. Is it working yet??? Ha-ha-ha!! Love you girl and Happy Birthday a week late!!

  6. Jeanie

    A belated happy birthday to you both. I’m very glad Licorice disposed of the duck foot. Surgery would not be fun — either having it or paying for it.

  7. addy

    Happy Belated to you and to Licorice! And ya our big ole dog can destroy any toy you choose to bestow upon him. Eats them too. But, you know he eats rolls of toilet paper too so he can wipe his own behind as he “goes”. Life is good for chewy dogs…..

  8. Whacamole Mom

    A tableau and a duck foot? I mean, could it possibly ever get better than that?

    Happy birthday, dear friend I’ve never met.


  9. Wendy

    I would love to go to a drive in, not sure I would care what was playing. There isn’t a drive in left near here.

    So glad you got to celebrate.

  10. Stacy

    Or dog is also know s Bailey the Destroyer. We also love the Duradoggie toys – the bone shaped ones are awesome. Put a few treats in the end – entertainment for hours! My sil recently got Bailey a chicken – damn thing is indestructible. I keep looking for another and can’t find one. Ugh…

  11. Sara

    Happy belated birthday to both you and your schmoopykins! My dog does the same thing with any type of squeaker toy–emergency squeakerectomy followed by rapid exfluffification. This is usually followed by me shaking my head in disgust at myself for throwing away cash just so she can revel in 20 minutes of hedonistic mayhem. Last time, I took the discarded squeaker and carried it in my pocket for several days, giving it random squeaks. The dog would run in all WHAT? I THOUGHT I KILLED THAT THING!! MUST! FIND! HEDGEHOG!!
    Yeah, it’s a little juvenile, but I totally feel like I got my money’s worth out of that toy.

    • Mir

      Dude, that is EVIL. I can’t wait to try it. (Also: Exfluffification! Haaaaaa!)

  12. Liza

    “No intestinal blockage!”

    Does the Goodwill in your area sell stuffed animals for $0.50 each? Ours does. No squeakers, but cheap exfluffification. :)

  13. Taxmom

    When my now 17 year old was just over 2, he swallowed a couple pennies. Trip to the ER, and xray, and the doc said we should just wait it out. So on my birthday a few days later we were at the visitor center of a major Place of Natural Beauty, and my husband went back to the car to change the diaper (because he’s a Mensch that way). He came back to the crowded lobby with our toddler and handed me two shiny (scrubbed clean) pennies and said: “From your son, on your birthday!” The older couple next to us was charmed until I explained that he had produced them from his hindquarters just for me, at which point they made a face and stopped speaking to us. So I know all about birthday gifts that come from behind.

    • 12tequilas

      Really? Some people! That is hilarious that your husband washed the pennies.

  14. Amanda

    Yay for no birthday intestinal blockage. That would probably be the worst gift ever. Before food allergies entered our lives, I used to send my aunt any stuffed toys we got in various kid meals for her dog to conquer and become their supreme overlord.

    • Karen in Michigan

      On the rare occasion I stop at McDonald’s to pick up a Happy Meal, I am always asked if I want a boy’s or girl’s toy. I answer, “cat.” They only get it some of the time. Once, the young lady told me her cat loved a particular toy so she had put that one in my bag. Her coworker just looked confused.

  15. Morgaine

    YAY Licorice! She has the same drive to Save the World from Fluff that my puppy (Ele) does. My eldest dog (Specka) had a good $300 worth of soft toys (because only child syndrome and my need to find her one toy she will do more than look at and sniff) and those were completely destroyed in about a day and a half upon introduction of Ele the Intruder into the house. It was both fascinating and a complete fucking mess. We now call her the Destroyer of Worlds and Specka now has the nickname of Crabby Old Bat because, well, the Destroyer of Worlds.

  16. Brigitte

    I figured out the clue right away, as we have a drive-in locally that we recently visited!

    I second the thrift shop stuffed critters, and I also enjoy sara’s evil idea.

  17. 12tequilas

    Okay, so I’ve never been to a drive-in. I thought you were supposed to watch from your car, and tune your radio to a certain frequency to get the audio. And then your back seat passengers complain that they can’t see through their parents’ heads and… yeah, I guess that wouldn’t really work.

  18. Little Bird

    May I just offer up a quick thank you for not posting a picture of the duck foot? Because the mental image is disturbing enough! Hysterical, but, ew.

  19. kapgaf

    Glad the birthdays were good (although the duck’s foot was kind of crappy – yep, I can resist anything but temptation!).
    And now that I have seen your math, I understand an important part of my life – my birthday + a man’s birthday the very next day = The One True Husband! Thank goodness he doesn’t eat ducks feet…

  20. Celeste

    I have been known to recycle the squeaker and sew it into another toy. My dog doesn’t dismember his stuffed toys that thoroughly. Although if he did, he’d either poop or barf them out next to my bed in the middle of the night. I’ve grown hardened to the sound of him making horrible noises in the night. I figure, whatever he did will be there in the morning. Unless he (ahem) cleans up his own mess.

  21. js

    Last year, this post would’ve surely included a trip to the vet for extremely expensive doggie surgery. It was just the kind of luck you were having. This year, you spent some wonderful family time together. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I hope for on my birthday anymore. Happy Birthday to you and to Licorice. Here’s to many more just like this one…um, almost.

  22. Leftofordinary

    Howling with laughter and wiping away tears from laughing so hard. I so needed this laugh.

    Happy belated birthday to you and poochie.

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