"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Dorks Turn Me On

Last night my wife and I sat on the couch, facing each other and she told me about her day. We didn’t turn on the TV all night, a rarity. At one point, she showed me the cartoons from last weekend’s Week in Review section. I told her how those were the only cartoons we ever saw in my house growing up. She said they always got the Sunday Funnies and I told her the Times never had comics. I said maybe her parents got one of the tabloids.

“Can you see my parents reading a tabloid?”

“I’ll bet your mother grew up reading the Post.”


“Sure, it was a liberal paper back then. I’m sure they got the Post along with the Times. Maybe the Herald Trib too. Or the Journal-Amer–”

She burst out laughing.

The Herald Trib?”

Laughing at me. In my face.

“Well, that’s what they called it,” I said, raising my voice in mock fury.

“Yeah, right. You are such a dork!”

“That’s what they called it!”

She curled into a ball as if to protect herself from attack and I picked up the phone and called her mother.

Her mom answered and Em and I took turns talking to her, laughing. She called it the Herald Tribune. But they read the Post in their house.

“See, I told you,” I said.

Emily spoke to her mom and her voice dropped, “Oh-no.”

Emily’s folks had to put down their dog in the morning, a fourteen-year old Dalmation. We stopped giggling and Emily’s voice became soothing and concerned. As childless parents, our two cats are like our kids. The thought of life without them is dreadful. I often day-dream about what will happen when Emily’s parents die, how I’ll feel when my mother dies. In two days it will be the third anniversary of my father’s death. And I think about when our cats will die until I force myself to think about something else.

This morning, I sent Emily’s parents an e-mail, letting them know that I was thinking about them. Em’s mom sat on a rug in the Vet’s office a few hours later and held her dog as it was put to sleep. 

Em and I talked about that tonight. The pain of losing loved ones. We talked about the shrine we’d make for our cats when they go. She was back on the couch. A re-run of The Office played in the background. I got up to get some some cereal. I found an unopened box and brought it into the living room and handed it to her.

“Why can’t you open it?” she said.


“Oh, I don’t think opening it is the problem. I think it’s when you leave it on the counter all night, wide open so that you make sure that it gets completely stale. That’s the problem.”

She laughed at me again.

“Hey, listen,” I said, “I’m trying to be pro-active here, and what’s with the editorializing?”

“I figured it might work well in the Herald Trib.”

A pause. She scrunched into a fetal position and then filled the room with laughter.


1 Mattpat11   ~  Jan 12, 2010 10:10 pm

Two of the worst days of my life are when my dogs Donna (10 years old) and Brewskl (2 years old) died. It was absolutely devastating, I often get violently angry when someone calls a pet "just an animal"

2 Biscuit Pants   ~  Jan 12, 2010 10:40 pm

What's that old line? "He went home with the Trib and the Times and woke up with the post in his hand."

I think Hot Stove time is some of my favorite on the Banter, Alex, when you write your non-baseball stuff. My home could be yours, except we have a Cairn Terrier to go along with the two cats. When they go, I'll be destroyed.

Btw . . 30 days!

3 Diane Firstman   ~  Jan 12, 2010 11:24 pm

My dad would have been 82 yesterday. Sigh.
I never had pets .... except for some ill-kept fish.

Friday marks one year without Todd.

Time marches on ...

thanks Alex ...

4 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jan 13, 2010 1:37 am

"New York Herald Tribune! New York Herald Tribune!" ("Breathless," 1960).

5 Sliced Bread   ~  Jan 13, 2010 8:48 am

Sorry about your in-law's dog, Alex.

We had to put down our beloved beagle Bailey three weeks ago. She was 13. My wife and I were in the room together, sobbing as she was laid to rest. Bailey was like our first kid. We got her as a pup a couple months before our first anniversary. My wife and I were the kind of dog-loving nuts who sent Christmas cards with pictures of our beagle -- before our 3 sons took over the picture.

By sad coincidence, my parents put down their dog the night before. They're the kind of dog-loving nuts who spent thousands of dollars on their boy's 2 year fight against cancer.

My family's Christmas was definitiely tinged with sadness.
The loss of our dogs was the first time my sons had to face a death in the family. One of my sons, the most sensitive one, has taken it hard, and has been crying at night before he goes to sleep. He came downstairs crying last night. We assured him that Bailey misses him too, and that she's happy, safe, and warm, sleeping in the sun (her favorite thing to do) up in doggy heaven That was a comfort to him.

We're getting a new dog this spring, but we're not ready yet.

6 Diane Firstman   ~  Jan 13, 2010 9:29 am


Sorry Sliced (virtual hug)

7 wsporter   ~  Jan 13, 2010 9:33 am

Tabloids and Bill Powell and Myrna Loy. One of the best exchanges in the history of the movies from the production code era occurs in the "Thin Man".. . "It said he shot you in the tabloids" . . . "He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids". . .

Loosing a dog is just a horrible experience. As a child I could never understand it or see the justice or fairness in it. As an adult I understand the fragility of life and have been around my share of death and tragedy but I can never seem to loose that sense of basic unfairness; they love us so much and so well and their time is just so short. It may be best for us that it is short though. Could you imagine the pain of loosing a dog after 30 years of having received so much selfless love and affection. This has been a tough year around my family and friends who have lost a number of dogs, some young and some old. It's a hard, hard thing.

8 Sliced Bread   ~  Jan 13, 2010 9:42 am

[6] thanks, Diane.

9 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 13, 2010 10:02 am

Pat Jordan once wrote a nice essay about Hoshi, one of his dogs and titled it BEYOND DOG. And that's how it is with animals--there really seems like there is a person in there.

Sliced, so sorry for your losses.

10 The Mick536   ~  Jan 13, 2010 12:39 pm

Don't be dissing the Trib, youse guys. I grew up reading the sports section of the Trib. It was green. I would grab it from my father when he got off the train. Followed the box scores and standings. Tom Wolfe, a pitcher by trade, wrote their with Jimmy Breslin, another baseball fan. Right of center, maybe, but also spawned New Journalism. Leonard Koppett (the only writer in the baseball and basketball H of F) and Red Smith, a close friend of Mr. Heinz, taught me how to read the game. My father's late afternoon paper, if you guys remember when there were late afternoon papers, was the World Telelgram and Sun. They had a Jewish guy who changed his name to Dan Daniel. My father made me read him also. Daniel, who is also in the baseball H of Fame, founded Ring magazine. Daniel loved the Mick. It was said that he also promoted Joe D's carreer, protecting the image, as well as the Babes. This is as good as it gets, eh?

11 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 13, 2010 1:14 pm

And the editor was Stanley Woodward. Be sure and read his memoir, PAPER TIGER.

12 Hank Waddles   ~  Jan 13, 2010 3:00 pm

Alex, I've said it before, and I'll say it again right now. Pieces like this are reasons why the Banter is the best site out there. Sure, I love the roster discussions and the free agent evaluations, but the neighborhood walks, subway trips, and evenings on the couch are even better. You da man, dog, you da man.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver