Saturday, July 4, 2015

Capone and the Sooth-Saying Sphincter of Destiny

It started out as most Mondays do, meaning things did not go as planned. My husband had forgotten to set his alarm clock, but (thankfully) I have a preset internal clock that wakes me every single day at exactly 6am. As much as I like that internal alarm clock during the winter, I abhor it during the summer and on weekends. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse, but in this case it proved to be a blessing since my husband made it to work on time.

Still, we woke up in a panic, adrenaline pumping. Capone seemed to sense our anxiety and began howling from his kennel. I opened the back door, let him outside, and stumbled towards the coffee maker. Before I could even get it started, I heard a strange sound coming from outside, sort of between a whine and a whimper.

I glanced out the window and saw Capone doing an odd squat walk through the backyard. It wasn’t his diarrhea squat walk (a dance I knew quite well). This was different. I opened the patio door and stepped out, trying to figure out what was wrong. Capone looked at me, his expression both mortified and embarrassed, and then I realized the problem.

Capone had a piece of poo dangling from a string still affixed to his anus. Later I discovered that string was actually a strand of my hair (majorly disgusting on so many levels), but at the time I only realized that the poop was a-dangling and Capone had no way of getting it out by himself.

He looked at me, his eyes begging for mercy, and he did an incredibly fast squat walk straight to the house. He planned to squat walk right into the house, so I slammed the door in right his face.

“No. Sit. Stay. Go back.”

He looked at me in confusion, then did a squat walk circle around the patio. I did the only thing I could think of, which was to grab some wipes and my gardening gloves and help Capone solve his problem. Manually. A hands-on approach.

It was easier than I expected. I winced, took a deep breath, and tried to ignore the fact that I held a solid ball of poo in my hand. One tug and it was over. Capone looked at me with a heady mix of relief and adoration.  He followed me around all day, tail wagging, and every so often he’d look at me, as if to say, “Remember when that poo was stuck and you saved me? You’re the best.”

The day that began with a missed alarm and a poo problem gradually turned into one of the best days I’d ever had. Later I got the email I’d been waiting for, an offer for my first book from the publisher I’d really wanted to work with.

After the usual happy dance around the kitchen, I shook my head in disbelief as I smiled at my husband. “Maybe the poo was a sign,” I said.

He laughed. “Maybe Capone should stop eating your hair.”

A little over a week later, I took Capone out for his morning poo, and the same thing happened. This time, instead of the poo dangling from a piece of my hair, it dangled from raffia style packaging material I’d used to pack a gift bag for a friend. Different material, same result. I had to don the gloves again, grab a wipe, and give it a yank.

“Maybe this means I’ll sell another book today,” I said as Capone licked my calves to show did his appreciation.

A few hours later, I did.

My second book sold to a different publisher, also exactly the publisher I’d hoped to work with for this book. I looked at Capone. He was on the floor by my feet, snoring loudly. He didn’t seem like an Oracle of Poo, but he’d only gotten poo stuck twice in his life, and both times I sold a book that very day.

Writers tend to be a superstitious lot, especially when we are trying to sell a manuscript. I tend to be selectively superstitious, remembering all the times the signs were in my favor and forgetting the others.  I didn’t exactly start to believe Capone’s poo had magical powers, but I did pay close attention to his bowel movements for the next few weeks.

I sold my third book without any sign from Capone at all. Well, he did poop out part of the gardening glove I’d used to pull out the first two prophetic poos, but I don’t know if that really counts.

Or does it?

Capone resting with one of my shoes (his personal favorite) after a morning of hard work predicting the future.

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