A New Friend for My Lonely Doggy

My dog was lonely and in need of a haircut, so I made a new pal for him out of his trimmings. Problem solved!

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(Just kidding. Don’t worry. I have two dogs and they have lots of fun together. Actually, they were both very excited about this new friend but soon lost interest because he just lays around all the time.)

Messin’ with Mark – God’s Sitcom. Episode 11 – A Toe-tal Disaster

computer-God

Welcome to episode 11 of Messin’ with Mark, God’s sitcom!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, let me tell you how it started . . .

When I was very young, Jesus was walking around in His heavenly area up there when he saw his Dad looking down through the clouds, laughing His head off. Curious, he walked over and asked, “What’s up, Pop?”

“Oh, just pranking that Mark kid again,” He replied.

Again?” Jesus asked, “Why are You always picking on him?”

I don’t know. There’s just something about him,” God said. “I mean, look at his face right now.”

Jesus looked down and started to chuckle, then stopped Himself. “Okay, I admit it’s kind of funny, but this is wrong. I mean, You created him. With all due respect, what kind of an example are you setting for the angels? We’re supposed to love and protect humanity, not single one out from all the rest for humiliation.”

God thought for a moment, then looked at Jesus and said, “You’re right. I should stop.” They looked at each other seriously, then said, “Naaaaaaaahhh” and laughed some more.

Jesus suggested that he make a regular show of his pranks on me. They named it Messin’ with Mark. 

Remember Rodney Dangerfield’s bit about getting “no respect” from humans? It’s kind of like that, but on a cosmic level.

So, to today’s episode – my story from Chicken Soup for the Soul’s book, The Dating Game. Bizarre, but true!

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Apparently, I’m not the only one in God’s sitcom. Every now and then an unfortunate co-star is cast alongside me, as you will see in this episode of Messin’ with Mark titled . . .

A Toe-tal Disaster!

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Humor is merely tragedy standing on its head with its pants torn. ~Irvin S. Cobb

 

I was always a realist when it came to love. I didn’t believe in destiny or the idea of soul mates. I considered it a lot of superstitious hooey. That is, until it happened to me… a date that went so horribly wrong, the only possible explanation was that our union was cursed.

When I first saw her, I was dumbstruck. She seemed to be my dream woman in every way. Everything she said and did was just so… wow. She could have worn a potato sack and it would have looked like high fashion to me. She could have read an insurance policy and I would have savored every word that poured from her sweet lips.

After ogling her with the glazed expression of a barn animal for a few weeks, I finally got up the nerve to ask her out on a date. I was ecstatic when she said yes. I walked home ten feet off the ground.

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The first sign that something was amiss came when I called to confirm our date. She said she had severely stubbed her big toe and was thinking about canceling. It wasn’t broken, she said, but it had swollen to twice its normal size. My heart sank, thinking she had changed her mind and made up the toe injury as an excuse. However, when I said she would be sitting most of the night — in a car, restaurant, and theater — she agreed to keep our date.

Sure enough, when I came to pick her up, she was wearing open sandals and the big toe of her right foot was heavily bandaged.

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The first sign of the curse came about halfway into dinner. It was one of those restaurants with singing waiters. One broke into song so I lifted my chair to turn around, not noticing that my date had extended her leg under my chair to rest her toe. As I set down the heavy, wooden chair, one of the legs and all of my weight came down squarely on her injured big toe. She let out a yell that was louder than the singer’s amplified voice.

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The other diners thought she was launching into a duet with the waiter. I apologized profusely, but she was in so much pain, she couldn’t respond. Eventually, she recovered and forgave me. After all, I couldn’t see her unnaturally outstretched leg under my chair. But I still felt like a putz.

After dinner, we drove to the theater. At least we would be safe there, I thought. No such luck. As the theater filled up, a large woman shimmying along our aisle to her seat stepped on the same toe with her heel. My date screamed for the second time that night. This was becoming downright mysterious. I was starting to think someone had a voodoo doll of her and was repeatedly stabbing the big toe with a pin.

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I didn’t think her toe could swell any more than it already had. I was wrong. When the lights came up in the theater and I got a good look at it, I almost screamed, too. It looked like something out of a cartoon. I suggested taking her to the emergency room. She refused, saying she hated hospitals. However, my growing concern must have struck some chord in her heart because she asked if we could go to my place. I had mentioned that there was a swimming pool at my apartment complex, and she thought submerging her toe in the water might make it feel better. I was glad she wanted to spend more time together despite the bumpy start we were having.

It was a warm, summer night and the front yard grass was still wet from sprinklers. She took off her sandals and walked across the cool grass.

“Ahh, that feels nice,” she said, finally feeling some relief from the pain. I was as relieved as she was until she kicked a sprinkler — yes, with the same big toe — and screamed in agony yet again.

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“Ah, come on!” I yelled to whatever force was calling down such misery on her unfortunate toe.

I picked her up and carried her to the pool. She sat on the edge, put both feet in the cool water and said, “I don’t usually drink, but I think a little alcohol might numb the pain a little.”

I told her I would bring her something.
“Make it a double,” she said.
We sat at the pool’s edge and gradually fell into lively conversation. She even forgot about her toe. Eventually, we moved to lounge chairs. After a few hours, I realized that I hadn’t let my dog Sparky out of the apartment all evening. I excused myself and went to get him. She saw me walking him to the grass and said, “Oh, he’s so cute! Bring him over here!”

Then the curse struck again. To my horror, Sparky, who had never bitten anyone before, walked directly over to her and chomped down on her bandaged toe.

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Maybe he smelled blood through the gauze and thought it was a sausage wrapped in butcher’s paper. She let out a blood-curdling scream for the fourth time that night, the kind of scream one might hear in a 1950s B-grade horror film.

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The only break she got was that my dog was a small Terrier mix and not a Pit Bull.

Startled by her scream, Sparky took off and I ran after him, worried he might run into the street. By the time I caught him and returned, she was livid.

“Why didn’t you warn me your dog was so vicious?” she yelled.

I told her Sparky had never bitten anyone before but she did not find it comforting to know she was the first.

“Please just take me home,” she said. “I’ve had enough toe injuries for one night.” I couldn’t understand why she was insinuating that her now obvious toe curse was my fault. I mean, the chair leg, the clumsy movie patron and the sprinkler I could understand, but my little Sparky latching onto that particular toe, and with such cyborg-like commitment, was proof enough for me that she and I were in some sort of Twilight Zone episode. I half-expected Rod Serling to show up and start narrating it.

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With a heavy heart, I drove her and her toe home. She stuck her foot out of the window to elevate it. I begged her to bring it back inside to prevent some other freak accident, like a vulture swooping down on it. After everything I had witnessed that night, anything was possible.

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I left several messages for her in the following weeks but she didn’t return my calls. A month or so later, for a laugh, I sent her a pair of steel-toed boots to protect her cursed toe. She called to thank me and we made plans to go out again.

On our next date, she wore the boots for a laugh. It was a wonderful evening, a fresh start. When I took her home, she got out of the car – and slammed her thumb in the door.

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P.S. We’re still together, and she still stubs her toe all the time. She’s just a klutz.

Messin’ with Mark – God’s Sitcom. Episode 7 – The Shot Heard ‘Round the Playground, or How My Fear of Pilgrims Began

computer-God

Welcome to episode 7 of Messin’ with Mark, God’s sitcom!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, let me tell you how it started . . .

When I was very young, Jesus was walking around in His heavenly area up there when he saw his Dad looking down through the clouds, laughing His head off. Curious, he walked over and asked, “What’s up, Pop?”

“Oh, just pranking that Mark kid again,” He replied.

Again?” Jesus asked, “Why are You always picking on him?”

I don’t know. There’s just something about him,” God said. “I mean, look at his face right now.”

Jesus looked down and started to chuckle, then stopped Himself. “Okay, I admit it’s kind of funny, but this is wrong. I mean, You created him. With all due respect, what kind of an example are you setting for the angels? We’re supposed to love and protect humanity, not single one out from all the rest for humiliation.”

God thought for a moment, then looked at Jesus and said, “You’re right. I should stop.” They looked at each other seriously, then said, “Naaaaaaaahhh” and laughed some more.

Jesus suggested that he make a regular show of his pranks on me. They named it Messin’ with Mark. 

Remember Rodney Dangerfield’s bit about getting “no respect” from humans? It’s kind of like that, but on a cosmic level.

So, to today’s episode –

You’d think they’d limit their pranks to adults, but no! Those pranksters up there (God and Jesus) have been pulling this stuff on me since I was a kid. Here’s one of their earliest episodes. 

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I was in third grade and starting to get pretty good on the monkey bars. My friends and I liked to play a game all kids play called “Chicken” wherein one kid starts on one side and one on the other, then swing hand-over-hand toward each other and try to pull each other down with their legs. 

There is an inherent danger in this game that is obvious to any grown man, but as a boy, I was oblivious to such danger. Oh, I had heard about getting kicked in the fellas but I didn’t understand (until this day) how or why it hurt more than getting kicked anywhere else. 

Opponents for this game weren’t usually chosen, they were just whoever happened to get on the bars at the same time. My random (or maybe not) opponent that day was a little girl who dressed like and had the severe, no-nonsense face of a sadistic orphanage headmistress. She was terrifying in her black dress with black shoes, complete with square, silver pilgrim buckle. Her hair was pulled back so tight, she could hardly blink.

I almost backed out but changed my mind because my friends were watching and I would never live it down. Before I knew it, we were swinging toward each other. I smiled and made some sort of joke but her stern expression just became sterner. It was clear she was intent on destroying me. 

As we got close enough to leg wrestle, I opened my legs to wrap them around her, as custom dictates. She, however, seized the opportunity to send a kick right up the middle an NFL field goal kicker would envy. I can still remember with extreme clarity her skinny legs and the heavy shoes dangling limply until the last moment when one of those bird twigs suddenly came toward me with an athleticism and accuracy nobody could have predicted. The pilgrim buckle connected squarely with my prepubescent berries, and all at once I understood what all the fuss was about. I understood why there was no “hitting below the belt” in the boxing matches I watched with my dad. I didn’t have long to understand, though, because less than one second after she buried her pilgrim shoe where God split me, I was face-down in the sand wondering what just happened.

The bell rang ending recess and all the kids started running to class. Lizzie Borden’s granddaughter laughed and joined them. After the initial gasp of horror, my friends felt too sorry for me to even say anything or offer assistance. It was one of those “it’s best to leave him alone” moments. And alone I was, for fifteen minutes after the other kids returned to class. I heard my teacher come outside and yell my name. I rolled over, spit out some sand, and started to yell, then thought twice. I was hidden by the short wooden wall of the sand in the play area. I could stay there forever, or at least until the first snow of winter covered me up. 

After another thirty minutes or so, I got up, hobbled to the drinking fountain, washed the remaining sand out of my mouth and nostrils, and snuck back into class. To this day, I have a morbid fear of pilgrims, or more correctly, pilgrim shoes. Fortunately, you don’t see pilgrims or quakers around much anymore. However, I still hyperventilate and break into a cold sweat at my daughter’s annual elementary school Thanksgiving show.

 

Messin’ with Mark – God’s Sitcom – Episode 6 – The Stray Kitten

computer-God

Welcome to episode 6 of Messin’ with Mark, God’s sitcom!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, let me tell you how it started . . .

When I was very young, Jesus was walking around in His heavenly area up there when he saw his Dad looking down through the clouds, laughing His head off. Curious, he walked over and asked, “What’s up, Pop?”

“Oh, just pranking that Mark kid again,” He replied.

Again?” Jesus asked, “Why are You always picking on him?”

I don’t know. There’s just something about him,” God said. “I mean, look at his face right now.”

Jesus looked down and started to chuckle, then stopped Himself. “Okay, I admit it’s kind of funny, but this is wrong. I mean, You created him. With all due respect, what kind of an example are you setting for the angels? We’re supposed to love and protect humanity, not single one out from all the rest for humiliation.”

God thought for a moment, then looked at Jesus and said, “You’re right. I should stop.” They looked at each other seriously, then said, “Naaaaaaaahhh” and laughed some more.

Jesus suggested that he make a regular show of his pranks on me. They named it Messin’ with Mark. 

Remember Rodney Dangerfield’s bit about getting “no respect” from humans? It’s kind of like that, but on a cosmic level.

So, to today’s episode – The Stray Kitten

I was having lunch at a cafe on the Greek island of Santorini when an adorable but very thin stray kitten sat near me, staring at my calamari. I held out a piece but he wouldn’t come closer because he was very timid, even fearful, but also because one of his legs appeared to be paralyzed. I hoped it wasn’t from some cruel human kicking it. The little guy just tore my heart out.

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Before he showed up, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because my money was running low and I would have to go back home soon. I was trying to stretch it out by eating the cheapest items on every menu and sleeping at campsites. But even my sleeping bag was probably warmer than wherever this poor little waif slept. Truth be told, I felt ashamed of myself. My life was kingly compared to his, and he was so small. The world can be a harsh place for little creatures.

It took some coaxing and a lot of calamari but I finally got him to come close enough for me to pet him. I reached out to show him some love, to prove to him that not all humans are cruel, and the little bastard sunk his teeth into my hand and buried all twenty of his nails in my forearm. I felt like I had stuck my hand into a hornet’s nest. I screamed and tried to shake him off but he was like a thing possessed. The cafe owner had to throw ice water on him to make him let go. He took off like a cheetah. There was nothing wrong with the little faker’s leg at all!

This was the point in the show when God and Jesus laughed themselves sick, along with everyone else watching.

That’s it. That’s the whole story.

What’s the moral, you ask?

Don’t be compassionate.

Oh, and most cats are jerks. 

The End.

Nicely played, God. Nicely played.