Thursday, May 03, 2007


Yesterday morning, my next door neighbor asked me if I would walk his dog a couple of times a day for the rest of the week. He offered to pay me for my trouble and I agreed. Around four in the afternoon, I paid a visit to Winston the Chihuahua. As soon as I walked into the apartment, he stood up on the bed and stared at me. Within seconds, he was shivering with fear at the sight of a strange mustachioed man in Nike running gear. I must tell you that my next door neighbor is actually dogsitting Winston, a rescue, for a few weeks as a favor to his friend. So I was given the task of dogsitting for the dogsitter. After talking to Winston in calming tones and gently approaching him to pet his head, he finally gave in and let me put the leash on him for a walk. Though he was still shivering as I attached the leash to his collar.

I took Winston for a non-eventful walk up and down the block, making sure he urinated and picking up his feces in a plastic bag. As we stepped back into my neighbor's apartment, I bent down to take the leash off as I closed the front door behind me. In a split second, Winston turned and bolted for the crack in the door. I caught him with my leg, smooshing him against the door jamb... but he managed to wriggle away and take off down the stairs leading to the street. I yelled for him to stop, then chased him down to street level. Once he hit the sidewalk, he kicked it into fifth gear and made a run for the border. I ran after him, yelling his name repeatedly, but he had no intention of stopping. On tired legs from having just completed a six-mile run hours before, I sprinted for as long as I could, but was no match for his four little legs and low center of gravity. A guy on a motorcycle saw what was going on and tried to cut him off, but Winston craftily eluded him as well. Halfway down the block, I was losing a visual on Winston, until eventually he was completely out of sight. My heart sank. Exhausted and panting, I slowed down to a speed-walk in the general direction I last saw him. I asked everyone I encountered along the way if they had seen a little black and brown Chihuahua. If I had time to hire a sketch artist, he would've drawn something like this:

No one had seen the dog. I started to panic as I neared Sunset Boulevard, thinking it was possible he hit the busy intersection and god knows what happened. I crossed Sunset and walked up a block or two, but soon realized I was looking for a miniscule Chihuahua in a giant city. How could this have happened? Am I the worst dogsitter in the world? What kind of horrible person am I to have lost someone else's dog? Riddled with guilt and sweating profusely, I quickly jogged back to the apartment to see if the dog had returned. No such luck. I grabbed my cell phone and placed a call to my next door neighbor. I left a message that I'm absolutely sure freaked him out when he heard it because of the utter panic in my voice. Disaster for me. Disaster for him. I roamed the neighborhood for an hour or so, keeping my eyes peeled for Winston, calling his name, asking everyone I passed if they saw him. Nothing. As if he had vanished. It felt like death.

Faced with that kind of loss, I turned to the only source I could... God. I asked for help in guiding me back to that shivering little shit. I tried to have faith that it would happen. I talked to my next door neighbor on the phone, and although he was spooked, he seemed to remain relatively calm for me. Nearly defeated, I headed back to the apartment one more time to see if Winston had come home. On the way back, I experienced one of the greatest moments of relief in my life. I caught a glimpse of Winston playing in a neighbor's backyard with two other dogs. "Winston!" A guy popped around the corner and said he had seen me walking by a couple of times but didn't realize I was looking for the dog. I thanked him profusely as he handed me the tiny terror. Just as the guy placed Winston in my arms, my cell phone rang. It was my next door neighbor. I answered the call and immediately said, "I got him." Total relief on both ends of the phone. We laughed about it for a minute and my neighbor told me not to worry about a thing. "It's over", I said. "After all that, I'm holding him in my arms." I carried Winston back into my neighbor's apartment, shut the door tightly behind me, scolded the disobedient devil dog until he started shivering again, then went home. I immediately hopped into the shower and scrubbed off the guilt, tension, worry, and stress. I was off the hook, thank God.

I sincerely doubt I'll ever eat Taco Bell again.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


A good friend from Seattle came to town on a weekend pass and stayed with me for a few days. Although I was hosting a guest at my home, I felt like I was on vacation too. Being that I recently spent a week in the Bahamas and Fort Lauderdale, then stole away to Palm Desert the weekend after I got back, I probably didn't deserve or need another vacation. Yet, I treated myself to one.

My good friend from Seattle is actually one of my ex-girlfriend's best friends from college. Luckily, my ex-girlfriend and I are much better as friends than we were as a couple, because I spent the majority of the weekend with her, her phenomenal husband, her incredibly cute baby, her ridiculously amazing dogs (one of which I sired during our relationship), and our common friend from Seattle.

It was all great fun and hilarious, I assure you, but I will generously spare you the intimate details of the general hanging out, cooing at and dancing with the baby, watching Survivor: Fiji, playing a homemade version of Celebrity: The Game, and squaring off in a no-holds-barred game of Texas Hold 'Em. I'm just going to hit the highlights.

Friday afternoon, we went on a little adventure to Universal CityWalk to take in 300 on the IMAX. On our way into the parking lot, we encountered perhaps the greatest parking attendant in the history of theme park parking. It wasn't that he was the friendliest by any stretch, just extremely knowledgeable and efficient. He gently persuaded us to buy preferred parking (first class) for $20 instead of the general parking (coach) for $10, by pointing out the logic in getting a $10 rebate from the movie theater and a book of coupons. It would be trite and tedious to riff on the utter absurdity of CityWalk itself, so suffice it say, we eventually made our way into the IMAX and took in the grandeur of 300. Blessed with a lack of connoisseur geekiness for all things associated with comics and graphic novels, I managed to sufficiently lower my expectations as I sat down to watch the flick. And I was rewarded for it. The movie was superficial fun, exciting at times and surprisingly sexy. You can't take it all too seriously, I mean, it doesn't even take itself that seriously. No one is proclaiming this to be a film of substance. But it won me over by not trying to be. It's high style without slipping into the realm of camp. Sure, I can pick the movie apart bit by bit, limb by limb, but the three of us who saw it that day didn't feel the need to do it then nor do I feel the need to do it now. If you do decide to see it, and I recommend you do, look for my friend friend Peter Mensah early on the film as the emissary of Xerxes, and make absolutely sure you watch it on an IMAX screen. I doubt I would've enjoyed 300 sets of six-pack abs half as much in one of those regular-sized theaters.

Saturday afternoon, my Seattle friend and I booked massages at Burke Williams. We met my ex and her brood for a scrumptious brunch at the Black Cow Cafe in Montrose, a true LA treasure, then headed into West Hollywood for some man pampering. We got there just in time and they ushered us into the spa immediately to change. The only problem was, we both desperately needed to empty our bowels before the rubdowns. Apparently, my friend took care of things rather quickly and went right into the private room to begin his session. I, on the other hand, had a little trouble performing under pressure. As I sat in the private bathroom, I heard my named being called in the spa. I had two options: Answer back and risk the embarrassment of everyone in the spa knowing my bidness, or keep quiet and ride it out, knowing they'll still come get me and take me to the room when I'm finally done. I chose to hush up. And sure enough the spa attendant greeted me as soon as I stepped out and took me in for my massage. But because I started a little late, my lady massage therapist kept asking if I wanted to cut it to a half hour session or go the full hour. She said she was scared of getting in trouble if I complained that I didn't get the full hour. I told her to keep going. What I learned later from a massage therapist friend of mine was that she was trying to get more money out of me. Thus, my naivety paid off and I got a good forty-five minutes of pure relaxation massage out of it. Little did the woman know I was paying with a gift certificate I got two years ago while working on Will & Grace. As if I could actually afford to pay for a massage out of pocket...