In Memoriam: A Note From Bob

Now that I have passed on to the great beyond and possess otherworldly superpowers, I have written my own obituary.

I passed away peacefully in my sleep, in the early hours of November 7, 2015. I will be remembered mostly for my barking, my big body on skinny legs (I am NOT a Whippet, for God’s sake), and barking. I enjoyed warm places to sleep, food, and incessantly warning my humans of their impending doom, by barking. I was named for famous television personality Bob Barker. Even though I never met him, I heard he is very fertile – much more than me – particularly since the whole neutering thing happened (thanks a lot for that, by the way). The humans called me Bobby, except when they were too tired or lazy to say the whole thing, and then it was just Bob.

I was preceded in death by the mean/bitchy meow-thing (Penny), wussy/boring meow-thing (Critter), teeny/frail meow-thing (Sally), and nice/weirdo meow-thing (Harriman). To all of my long-gone frenemies, it makes me very happy to know that I outlived you all. That fact puts a smile on my face, and now that I am once again fully-abled, a happy wag to my tail. My smile is even better now that I have all of my teeth back. Wherever it is that we all are right now, please don’t look me up.

To the surviving red menace, The Ginger, the orange meow-thing, I say sayonara and good riddance, even though you didn’t completely suck. I forgive you for all of the times you randomly bitch-slapped me for no reason other than I was a dog. I forgive you for all of the times you entered my bubble and tried to snuggle with me. It was terrible. And ok. Sometimes. Not really. Most of all, I ask that you take care of the humans now that I am gone. I can no longer bark at things on their behalf, and you seem to have their confidence. I know you are worthless because you cannot bark, but the least you can do is to grimace menacingly at things with your snotty, mangled, deformed face. It just might be scary enough to ward off evil. It’s all on you now. Soldier on, you disgusting beast.

To my humans, I say thanks for giving me a good life, enough to eat, a soft place to lie down, and a forum to do what I did best: Bark. I’m sorry for all of times I pooped on your floor, pissed on your rug, or inconveniently barfed on something that you value. I understand why sometimes you had to yell at me, and there are no hard feelings. You handled all of that with incomparable grace, and I thank you.

To Young The He, thank you for being exceedingly kind and nice to me. I knew you less time than the others, but in our almost 13 years together, I grew quite fond of you. I liked how you talked nice to me and petted me, even though I know you like the orange meow-thing a little bit more than me, for reasons I’ll never completely fathom. You are a sweet, kind boy. I will miss seeing who you will grow up to be, but whoever that is, I know you will be extraordinary.

To Older The He, I knew you my whole life. You were only 4 when we met. You were a little, blond touslely-haired thingy, and now you are a big hairy thingy. I’m sorry I was never much for fetching the ball, but I appreciate you playing with me nonetheless. I loved all the naps we took together, especially when we were both little. I have watched you grow up to be a fine, decent, kind young man. I know my leaving is hard for you, but both of us are going to be ok. I’m very proud of you. You are at the beginning of an amazing adventure. Go out and be great.

To Other The He, I know you loved me even though you were frequently crabby with me. Thanks for paying for all of the things. Thanks for putting food in my bowl. Thanks for loving my people and taking good care of them. Thanks for doing your best to help me here at the end when I was a hot mess. And that time at the PetSmart when I unloaded a quart of Bob’s Finest on your favorite pair of Sebagos? Do you remember that time? I do, and I would totally do that again if I had another chance. That was the best. What a great day. May you live a long life with dry shoes, mon frère.

To The She, I don’t know where to start. We have been constant companions for 17 years. You let me follow you from room-to-room for all of that time. I’m sure it was annoying sometimes, but you never once complained. You let me sit next to you wherever you were, even when I smelled very bad because I snacked from the meow-thing box. You always talked nice to me, always put a blanket on me (we both get cold, don’t we?), even when I was a pain-in-the-ass, or put my bodily fluids on something, or was just inconvenient. I never felt more loved than when I was with you. You were my whole world. Thanks for being my person. I know this is all very hard for you, and that you are terribly sad, but don’t be that way for too long. You gave me a great life, and that is what you should be thinking about. I love you.

To everyone else, thanks for letting me bark at you so hard and so loud and so long that I nearly passed out. I cherish those memories. If I was annoying, I’m sorry not sorry. If I pooped on or near you, or peed, or barfed in your general vicinity, I’m actually am really sorry. These things happen. Thanks for understanding.

I guess that’s it. It was a good ride. Thanks for all of it.

Always be good to one another, and Bark On.

Bobby

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It Is Accomplished

The Dish

weddingaisle

As Gandhi never quite said,

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win.

I remember one of the first TV debates I had on the then-strange question of civil marriage for gay couples. It was Crossfire, as I recall, and Gary Bauer’s response to my rather earnest argument after my TNR cover-story on the matter was laughter. “This is the loopiest idea ever to come down the pike,” he joked. “Why are we even discussing it?”

Those were isolating  days. A young fellow named Evan Wolfson who had written a dissertation on the subject in 1983 got in touch, and the world immediately felt less lonely. Then a breakthrough in Hawaii, where the state supreme court ruled for marriage equality on gender equality grounds. No gay group had agreed to support the case, which was regarded at best as hopeless and at…

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Until Next Time…

This is the eulogy I wrote for my friend John McLaughlin, which I read at his memorial service at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, on December 12, 2014.

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I met John about 14 years ago. He and Barb wandered into this place not long after Jen and I did, and we hit it off right away. As friends, the four of us clicked. Ryan was maybe 6 at the time, and Evan would come along a couple of years later, and the kindness Jen and I enjoyed was extended to our boys too. We loved the old house, the yard, and that big old swing in the back. We connected.

When I joined the Cedar Lake Seven in the fall of 2000, we were between guitar players. The previous guy has moved to Hawaii, and while we didn’t have too many guitar numbers back then, when he left, we were all a cappella. Our lead tenor had recently left the group too, so we were a little undermanned. After John strolled in to this place, he was quickly recruited by Greg – He was a twofer — he could play guitar, and he had a lovely high tenor voice, both things that we needed badly. Continue reading

Road Trip

I write in bursts, and now seems like a good time to pick it up again.

My friend John McLaughlin died yesterday, and it is weighing heavily on me today.  John was a friend of mine for 15 years.  We started going to same little church right around the same time, and we hit it off right away.  He was 17 years older than me, but that didn’t matter.  It just worked.  I feel sadness and loss, but a busy day at work mostly kept me from thinking about it.  Now that I’m home, I need to get this out.

John died because of a disease called PSP, which gradually robbed him of his charm and dignity, year after year, bit by bit.  It was a terrible thing to watch an intelligent, vibrant man slowly deteriorate in such a way.  At first, many years ago, we didn’t know what was going on.  In hindsight, it all makes sense. I don’t want to talk too much about this though, so I’m going to tell a story instead.

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You go, Cris Carter.

Preach it Cris. Just because we’ve always done something, does not means it is how we must always be.

For The Win

Hall of Fame receiver and ESPN analyst Cris Carter made a poignant speech about disciplining children and relating it to his own childhood Sunday in light of a grand jury indicting Adrian Peterson on a charge of injury to a child.

“This goes across all racial lines, ethnicity… People believe in disciplining their children,” Carter said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. “People with any kind of Christian background they really believe in disciplining their children.”

Carter related the story to his mother, who raised seven children by herself. “My mom did the best that she could do … But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong.

“This is the 21st century; my mom was wrong… And I promise my kids I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make them do what you want them…

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Don’t Be Stupid

I have something I need to confess.  I share this so that I may unburden myself, to submit my actions for your collective consideration, and ultimately, your judgment.  Here we go.

I helped my son build a beer pong table for his dorm room.

Now I’m sure you can now see why I needed to confess that.  It’s something I’ve been wearing as a yoke around my neck for the last week or so, I need some spiritual relief.

Beer pong, for the uninitiated, is a game frequently played by college students. It involves a pool-rack configuration – a triangle – of cups at each end of the table.  Contestants try to throw or bounce ping-pong balls into the cups, which contain various types of beverages. If your ball lands in an opponent’s cup, they must consume said beverage. All your cups are gone?  You lose. House rules vary, but that is the general idea.

You may be asking yourself, why would Rick do such a thing?  Why?!  Doesn’t he know that this is only going to encourage the kind of ill-conceived shenanigans that we warn our college kids to stay away from? Doesn’t he know what a bad example he is setting for his son, that he is providing tacit permission for his kid to carry on, to indulge in Animal House-like behaviors, ultimately at the expense of his college success?  Doesn’t he know that he has made the path to debauched excess that much easier to navigate?  Haven’t you thought of these things?  Good grief, man.

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Will You Be There?

In honor of what would have been Michael Jackson’s 56th birthday (I had no idea his birthday was only two days different than mine), it is worth revisiting this magnificent video of Will You Be There.  I encourage you to look up the lyrics and read them, perhaps while watching this clip. Think of someone you love. It is wonderfully moving and uplifting….simply gorgeous.

In our darkest hour, in my deepest despair, will you still care? Will you be there?
In my trials, and my tribulations, through our doubts, and frustrations.
In my violence. In my turbulence. Through my fear, and my confessions.
In my anguish, and my pain. Through my joy, and my sorrow.
In the promise of another tomorrow.
I’ll never let you part, for you’re always in my heart.

This is taken from his Live in Bucharest DVD, available on Amazon. It is not a particularly good rip in terms of video quality, but the audio is very good. Enjoy.