There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you are meeting your better half’s parents. One of the worst things that can possibly happen is when your girlfriend’s parents call you the wrong name. I understand that this is a pretty common occurrence. However, there is one thing that can happen that is WAY worse. Your girlfriend’s dad could call you the name of one of your girlfriend’s exes.
That’s who Clint was; an old ex from about four years ago. And that was what Leah’s father kept calling me on this particular trip to Iowa. The first time, it was kind of funny. The next time it was a little weird. And let me tell you, by the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and ongoing times I was starting to get pretty worried about it.
To make matters worse, Leah was gone for a few days leaving me alone with her family, who I honestly didn’t know all that well yet. But I was being a trooper, because that’s what guys act like when they are head-over-heels for the perfect girl.
The first day she left, to go compete in the Miss Iowa Pageant, he called me Clint three times. The third time he said, “Say Clint do you want something to drink?” Leah’s mom gave him a cold glare that would freeze the hide off of an artic seal, and then he realized his mistake. “Ah DANGIT! I’m sorry Seth,” and then under his breath, “Leah’s gonna kill me.” At that point I realized that sometimes, people are just going to call you by someone else’s name and there isn’t any use letting it fluster you. So I decided I wouldn’t hold it against Leah’s dad, after all, he was a real nice guy.
That week in Iowa without Leah, was the tried and true test of my dedication to this beautiful girl. Remember in Chapter 1, when I said, something to the effect of, if you’re in a serious relationship there will be a point when you question whether or not you can deal with the idiosyncrasies of another family in addition to your own, in order to test the depth of your love for your girlfriend? This week was that point.
The most annoying idiosyncrasy of the Bunkers family… Olive. I learned a lot about Olive during that week. And I reached a conclusion. This dog, was a real member of the family. Not like a dog member of the family. Like a Stuart Little member of the family. “Little high, little low! Little Hey! Little Ho!”
Olive was on meds. Not because she was sick, but because she took pills every day of her life. Her condition is… ongoing shall we say. Apparently the dog suffers from sort of canine ADHD and the pills are to calm her down. First of all, there’s another term for canine ADHD: DOG ENERGY. All dogs want to run around and feel the breeze in their fur. And if those pills are supposed to make Olive more even-keel, I got some news. IT AIN’T WORKING. If anything, I would guess that these pills are what make her so… unpredictable.
Every day one of the Bunkers would grab the pill planner and give Olive her daily dose. Yes you read that right, the dog has a pill planner. Monday through Sunday, folks. Now the technique of giving these pills is a precise art. You take a pill out of the Wednesday slot, take down the jar of peanut butter. Put a dab of PB on your finger, place the Wednesday pill on that finger and let ole Olive lick away. Give me some pills to take with chocolate cake and I’m all on board!
I found some photo prints on the counter in the kitchen. Some portraits of Leah, and two portraits of Olive. I discovered that Olive wasn’t her name. Her name is Olive Grace Bunkers…. Uhm yeah. I was talking to Leah on the phone when I learned this little bit about her dog’s name. Somehow the name Grace came up and Leah piped up, “That’s Olive’s middle name.”
“Uhm, so she has a middle name… So does she have a last name too?”
Leah started laughing. “Don’t tell me your dog’s name is Olive Grace Bunkers.” She just kept laughing and finally managed to say, “Well at the vet’s office what do they call your dog?”
“Misty! What do they call yours? Hahahahahaha!”
I have no further commentary on this subject.
As the week neared its end, we prepared to travel to Davenport for the pageant. But first we had to drop Olive off at the kennel. Well of course this meant that I was in for a very interesting drive from the house to the kennel. I loaded up my two bags of luggage into the car and waited to leave. Leah’s mom left her bags in the garage and then went back in the house saying, “I have to get Olive’s stuff and we’ll be ready.”
Olive had two bags. She would have had more if she’d been allowed to take ALL of her toys. Unfortunately, she had to pick her three favorites. I’m not going to lie to you, I had a really good childhood. But in no point in time did I ever, or have I since accumulated a volume of toys anywhere close to the collection that this dog had. She had upwards of 30 if she had one.
Once we were on the road, things got pretty hectic. At first it was smooth sailing. The next thing I know, Olive is standing on the middle console and about to be in the driver’s lap. “OLIVE GET BACK! Down! Down!” “Baby can you get back for me please? Mommy has to drive baby so just get back.”
Eventually the dog was back in the back seat. But not for long. Five minutes later she was in my lap. Dog hair flying everywhere, and “OLIVE! OLIVE! BAD GIRL!” and awful dog breath in my face. Just when I was about to rear back and pop her in the nose real good, Leah’s dad dragged back.
“Bad dog Olive. BAD DOG. Stay. STAY!”
“Why are you so mad? She just wants to see what’s happening?”
I’m picking dog hairs off of my shirt.
“Well she’s gonna cause a wreck climbing up there in the front. And she was all over Clint. AH DANGIT!”
How I made it through that trip, I’ll never know. But I did, and we dropped off Olive and reached Davenport in one piece. At that point in time, I didn’t think a car drive could go any worse… But I was a naïve foolish boy, who had a lot to learn.