But last night, something happened that shook that mindset, a bit. And I'm kind of floating, now, wondering what I should do. I am hesitant to splash this all across the Web, for reasons that will be obvious when--and if--I write more on this. But I consider those who read this almost-daily drivel to be "in my corner," as it were, and, though BIFF is a 21st Century joke, of sorts, I believe that there is something to the connections one makes on the Internet. I hope to God that I'm not wrong.
I have no children--as most of you might already know--but I do have a dog, Lou, and he is like a son to me, albeit furry and mute and sometimes stinky. Lou is a daily companion and Lou is loyal and I would give my right middle finger to keep him safe. And so when his safety is threatened, I tend to get a little excited, a little in-your-face.
Last night, at about 9:30, my cell phone rang, jarring me from an unfocused reverie in which I was doing nothing but staring at the map of the United States on the computer room's wall, trying (mostly in vain) to recall from junior high school years the state capitals. I had gotten Michigan (Lansing) and California (Sacramento) and Rhode Island (Providence). I had gotten Alaska wrong (it's not Anchorage) and I had botched Texas, as well. (Crawford is not the capital of Texas, nor is it the center of the universe, despite what our fearless chimpanzee leader might think.)
My phone rang, spitting out some approximation of "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rachmaninov, and I jumped, a bit. Lou, looking guilty (as always), took the opportunity to slink out of the room and into the front room, where he clambered aboard the couch and, with a heavy sigh, affected a disinterested glaze to his eyes. I stared after him and shrugged and picked up my phone. I didn't recognize the number. Hell, for that matter, I didn't even recognize the area code. 818? Where the hell is 818, I wondered. But, seeing as how I was bored, and flummoxed by geography, I decided to answer it. I've been kicking myself ever since. Now they know, you see. And they know where I live. And they know that the phone number is legitimate.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Is this Adam B____?" a man's roughened voice asked.
There's a game I play--and I usually get it wrong--in which I try to visualize strangers' physical characteristics from their voices alone. You know: The old joke about the fat DJ with the thin voice or the slim-voiced 900-number babe who's actually 3 bills and a mother of four. I do it all the time and, when I've met the voice on the other end, I'm usually way off base, but this time? This time I feel it in my bones that I'm right on center, a long-distance physicality bullseye.
I picture this guy--and I obviously have not yet met him, nor do I know if I will--but I picture this guy as, like, a late-'70s/early-'80s refugee. Some "player" who doesn't know that the calender has flipped. Flipped a few times, in fact. I see him, in my mind's eye, as a slightly-overweight man with a thick black mustache and thinning black hair slicked back from his widow's peak with some kind of greasy Bryl-creme-type gel. I would bet my last five dollars that he is the type to wear a button-up shirt unbuttoned to just above the navel, and it would not surprise me at all to know that he wears a golden medallion, as well. That type. And this guy Rick (I learned his name later in the conversation) is about as far away from metrosexuality as a chicken is from the North Pole. He's not one to shave himself, I don't think; his coarse black chest-hair is probably springing out of his shirt.
"Uh, yeah," I said. "Who's this, please?"
"And you live at--" I could see him pushing his glasses up on his greasy nose "--[address redacted], Royal Oak, Michigan?"
"Uh, sure.... Who is this, again?"
"Mr. B____, this is Rick Toldem, from Sunlight Productions, Van Nuys, California?"
"Okaaaaaay..." I said.
"Yeah, we're calling about your dog, Louie?"
"My dog Louie?" I said, taking the phone from my ear and glancing into the front room. Louie saw me looking and quickly resumed his "sleep." I looked back at the phone, a bit bewildered, and put it to my ear.
"--tribute and we'd like to give him a look-see," Rick was saying.
"I--I'm sorry, Mr. Toldem," I said. "I didn't catch that. What were you saying?"
"Oh, no problema," he said. "I was just saying that we received an anonymous call late yesterday afternoon and the caller was saying that your dog has a certain attribute that we might be interested in seeing. We have a person in the area--around Detroit, actually--you close to Detroit?"
"Well, yeah, but--"
"So this person we got is near Detroit," he overrode," and we were thinking we could maybe set up an appointment sometime this week? Maybe give ole Lou a once-over?"
I sat there, in my comfortable armchair, in uncomfortable, perplexed, silence.
"Mr. B____? You still there?"
I shook my head as if to clear cobwebs. "Wha--what is this all about, Mr. Toldem? You're coming out of left field, here."
"Rick," he said.
"Okay, Rick, what is this all about?" I said. I got up and walked into the kitchen and poured myself a mug of coffee. I glanced at Lou on the way back to the computer room. His nose was buried between his paws and he appeared to be sleeping, his chest rising and falling in deep rhythmic breaths. "I mean," I said as I sat down, "I get this call on a Sunday night, from some guy in California, talking about some mysterious caller who is regaling my dog with some kind of attributes.... I--I'm just at a loss, here, Mr. Toldem."
"Rick," I corrected.
"Well, Mr. B_____, first off, no one was regaling your dog. To regale someone or something would imply that the person was entertaining or amusing your dog...I can assure you that that is not--and was not--the case."
"Semantics," I said. "You know what I'm saying." I rubbed the back of my neck with my left hand. I was starting to tighten up.
"Yes," he chuckled. "Semantics. Sorry about that. It's a bad habit of mine, correcting people's grammar. Pisses off my friends. Call it English degree-itus, if you want to. I guess I'm just a frustrated English major."
"Aren't we all," I muttered.
"Yes. Anyway, as I said, Sunlight Productions is where I'm calling from. I'm the Head of the scouting department and it's my job to follow leads on certain new talents that spring up around the country. When I get a call direct to my office, Mr. B____, I can assure you, I take that seriously. It's my job to make sure it's legit. The adult film industry is booming, sure--billion-dollar-a-year industry, don'tcha know--but--or maybe because of that--we get our fair share of crackpots calling, saying that they're the new John Holmes. Or the next Jenna Jameson." He chuckled. Rocks in sandpaper.
I cleared my throat. "Um...adult film industry?"
"You mean, like, porn?" Unbidden, images of flesh danced in my mind.
"Yup. Pornography, or, as we like to call it, romantic celluoid tranquility. RET, for short."
"RET, for short," I repeated.
"Yes. That's right, Mr. B____," he said. "May I call you Adam?"
"Sure," I said, distractedly. "Wait...no, uh-uh."
"Mmkay," he said. "Whatever makes you shine."
"So, tell me, Mr. Toldem," I said, agitated by the surreal conversation. "How the hell does my dog factor into this?"
"Well, Mr. B_____," he said, "have you ever seen his tongue? From all indications, from what we here have heard, that kid could be a superstar!"
So. That's where we stand. My dog is being considered for a career in pornography. My. Dog. If it weren't so unbelievable.... Shit. It is unbelievable. In fact, it almost seems like I'm making this whole damn thing up. It feels like a dream, to me. But, I swear on my most favorite pencil that it's the dog's honest truth. I am feeling very conflicted, right now.
On one hand, it's the chance of a lifetime, for my son. My furry son. He would be lauded. He would have all the bitches and he would live a king's life. Plus, a whole shipload of money would be headed my way--and that would be ever-so welcome, seeing as how I am a bit low in the coffers right now.
On the other hand, I would be pimping out my pride and joy, simply because he has a body part that is wholly out of proportion. Lou is Innocence. I don't want to sully him. I'd like him better unbesmirched, I think.
Toldem assured me that it would be strictly dog-on-dog action--yes, there is a market for that--and that Lou's lack of testicles would not be a problem. ("No problema," he'd said, laughing.) But, my goodness...porn?!
I asked Lou, last night, after I had hung up with the smut-monger, what his thoughts on the matter were. I asked, too, if he--in fact--had been the "anonymous" caller. Lou had blinked at me then, and had licked his nether regions. Without. Bending. His. Neck. When he had looked back into my eyes, I believed that I could detect the gleam of pride. Was it my imagination? Who knows.
So, like I said, that's where it stands. I opened this post with a plea, of sorts. I'm not one to ask for help, save for when my back is pushed up against--hell, through--the wall. My ass is in the other room, right now. I need some advice. Could you--would you--help me, please?