Denny sits naked in the dog house after dinner. Everyone does things to clear their head. His wife has her running, the kid has his video games, other people Denny knows shoot guns or swim, and Denny has the dog house. He tries not to think while in the dog house. He doesn’t touch himself or think about his wife or other women he knows in that way; it’s not like that in the dog house. This is a man, Denny, sitting naked in a dog house, in his backyard, for a few hours after dinner.
“Does your husband still sit naked in the dog house?” People ask Denny’s wife this. “Yes,” she says, “but I don’t want to talk about it.” Because what wife with a man who sits naked in the dog house would want to talk about it? She knew before they were married that he enjoyed sitting naked in small spaces. Before they bought the dog, Denny would park his car in the garage after work and sit naked in the driver’s seat for a few hours. She was sure he was you-know-what-ing in there, which disgusted her. She even thought about leaving him. One night after he came in from the garge she screamed at him: “I know what you’re doing in there!” He promised he wasn’t touching himself. “I sit there naked, that’s it. I just sit.” She wanted to know what he was thinking about. “What are you thiiiiiinking about?” she said. Denny assured her he wasn’t doing any deep-thinking. “I’m sitting in my car naked for a few hours after work. That’s it.”
After they bought the dog and the dog house there was now a smaller space available to Denny in which to sit naked. He started sitting naked in the dog house after dinner, only on Sundays. His wife noticed that he was no longer sitting naked in the car after work. She was relieved that this stage in his life, in their life, was over. But soon after dinner one Sunday she walked out back for no reason at all and found Denny cross-legged and naked in the dog house. “The dog house?” she said. Denny didn’t say anything and remained seated for another hour.
His wife tried to hide this from the friends and family members who didn’t already know. In her eyes, the dog house was a worse place for Denny to sit than the car as there was no fence in their backyard and they lived in one of those neighborhoods with semi-communal backyards and kids would play capture the flag and soccer across three backyards, and Denny would sometimes sit before is was fully dark out and, God forbid, his wife thought, if a young neighbor girl saw Denny crawling out of the dog house one night and ran screaming back to her house and told her parents about the naked man in the dog house. She would have to divorce Denny and raise the kid alone.
“Woof woof,” Denny said one night after coming in from the dog house. “I’m a dog now.” He grabbed his genitals and waved them in his wife’s direction. She was doing the dishes and was not amused by this. “Listen,” she said, “I’m having company over for dinner this Sunday. It’s a big deal for me, she’s an old college friend I haven’t seen in many years and she’s bringing her new husband. I need you to promise me that you won’t sit in the dog house.” Denny let go of his genitals. “Do you really not want me to?” he said. “Yes,” she said. “I really do not want you to.”
Next Sunday the friend came over with her new husband, who happened to be a vet, and the foursome discussed their pets and the school system while eating dinner. The dog walked by the dinner table and the vet admired its coat and said it seemed to be a good weight. “Most American dogs are fatsos,” the vet said. Denny said they walk the dog daily and groom it every week. “Sometimes twice a week if he gets dirty. You know how dogs get.” The vet said, “We have a dog too and he tends to get very dirty whenever we let him outside. And that’s just about every day.” Denny did not enjoy the vet’s company but he continued being cordial with him as a favor to his wife because, at the end of the day, if Denny were to tally up the sum of her personality, her appearance, her tolerance of his sitting in the dog house, and her sustained enthusiasm in bed, she is a wonderful life partner whom he wouldn’t want to disappoint.
“I see you have a dog house out back,” the vet said. “I like the look of it.”
“Thank you,” Denny said.
“Where did you get it?”
“Petsmart. It was on sale.”
Now that the vet was interested in talking about the dog house, Denny liked the vet. He asked his wife if he could go outside and show off the dog house and she said yes. She had wanted to catch up privately with her friend so they could talk about their husbands and all the lovely things they do as well as their unsavory habits.
Out back near the dog house Denny ran his hand along the shingles of the roof of the dog house and said, “These are real roof shingles. The kind of shingles you see on a real house’s roof. They are probably not too different than the shingles on my roof, or your roof.” The vet rested his hand on the shingles and confirmed that they were the same shingles one could find on a real roof. The vet bent over and looked inside the dog house. He appreciated how large it was. “You could fit three dogs the size of your dog in this dog house,” the vet said. Denny said you could fit four even, and they agreed on that, four dogs.
“Do you ever wonder if your dog lives better than you do?”the vet said.
Denny had thought about this often and had already concluded for certain that, yes, his dog lives better than he does. Denny’s favorite thing to do was sitting naked in the dog house, but he only did once a week out of respect for his wife and out of fear of being caught by a neighbor, whereas the dog sat naked in the dog house every day for many hours at a time. The great pleasure Denny got from sitting in the dog house must have been felt by the dog much more often than it was felt by Denny, Denny thought.
“My dog lives better than me,” Denny said.
“My dog lives better than me, too,” the vet said.
Denny was starting to feel more acquainted with the vet. At first he didn’t like the things the vet said, or his shirt, but now he liked both. Denny thought there was a chance they could even become friends, and he figured that if their wives’ conversation went well and they picked up their old college friendship, then he would need to become friends with the vet anyway, or at least see him in social situations and be cordial.
“Most pet dogs in America live better than much of the country’s human population, all things considered,” the vet said.
“Definitely,” Denny said.
Denny wanted to tell the vet that he sits naked in the dog house. He wanted the vet to know that after dinner on Sundays he walks outside and gets naked and crawls inside the dog house and sits for a few hours. Like his dog, Denny sits there and doesn’t think, or at least he tries not to, and he doesn’t touch himself. He doesn’t feel a strong happiness, and he doesn’t brood or sink into a sadness or become anxious about anything he’s done or failed to do—and Denny has failed to do much. When he sits in the dog house he sits in the dog house, nothing else, and he wanted to tell the vet about this and how sometimes after sitting in the dog house he would feel like a dog, but out of respect for his wife he didn’t.
Tags: 105 Stories About Ohio
You got Oakland. You got Berkeley. You got San Jose. You got San Francisco. Those are the big ones. You got Sausalito. You got Tiburon. You got Emeryville. Good boat towns. Fremont, Hayward, Concord, Sunnyvale, Santa Rosa, and Vallejo are also cities in the Bay Area.
We’re up in Napa County now. You got Yountville, you got St. Helena, Napa the city, Calistoga, and American Canyon. Valleys in Napa Valley include: Pope Valley, Capel Valley, Chiles Valley, and Gordon Valley. Dry Creek is in Napa County.
In Sonoma County you got Cloverdale, you got Cotati, you got Healdsburg, you got Petaluma, you got Rohnert Park, you got Santa Rosa (repeat), you got Sebastopol, you got Sonoma the city. You got Windsor. You got Sea Ranch and you got Bodega.
In Alameda County you got Oakland (repeat), Fremont (repeat), Hayward (repeat), and Berkeley (repeat), and Emeryville (repeat). You got Alameda the city and you got Albany and Livermore and Union City and Newark and Dublin. There’s Piedmont and there’s Pleasonton and there’s San Leandro. A girl I know who grew up in San Leandro says San Leandro is the pits. Have a good time there and prove her wrong. Komandorski Village: that’s a mouthful. Scotts Corner is named after a guy named Thomas Scott and used to be called Scott’s Corner with an apostrophe.
In Contra Costa County you got El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo. You got Clayton, you got Concord, you got Danville, you got Lafayette, you got Martinez, you got Moraga, you got Orinda, you got Pleasant Hill, you got San Ramon, you got Walnut Creek, you got Antioch, you got Brentwood, you got Oakley, and you got Pittsburg. “I’ll take two pickets to tittsburg” is an old Pittsburg joke. You got another mouthful coming up: Bayview-Montalvin.
We’re down in Marin County (repeat) now. You got Ross. You got Mill Valley. You got Fairfax. You got Larkspur. You got Novato. You got Corte Madera. San Anselmo and San Rafael. You got Sausalito (repeat) and Tiburon (repeat) and Belevdere. Stinson Beach: small town. Good fish tacos in Stinson Beach. Eat a Caesar salad in Tiburon (repeat) and drive up to Stinson Beach (repeat) for a fish taco or three and have yourself a time. You got Marin City and a place called Black Point-Green Point. Sleepy Hollow is not spooky. Keep USA out of Dillon Beach!
San Francisco (repeat) is the only consolidated city-county in the state of California. You only got San Francisco (repeat). That’s it. That’s all you got here. Eat at the Stinking Rose in North Beach and you will have garlic farts for a week. In San Francisco you got all these too: Alamo Square Anza Vista Ashbury Heights Balboa Park Balboa Terrace Bayview Belden Place Bernal Heights Buena Vista Castro Cathedral Hill Cayuga Terrace China Basin Chinatown Civic Center Clarendon Heights Cole Valley Corona Heights Cow Hollow Frederick Knob Crocker-Amazon Design District Diamond Heights Dogpatch Dolores Heights Duboce Triangle Embarcadero Eureka Valley Excelsior Fillmore Financial District Financial District South Fisherman’s Wharf Forest Hill Forest Knolls Glen Park Golden Gate Heights Haight-Ashbury HayBro Hayes Valley Hunters Point India Basin Ingleside Ingleside Terraces Inner Sunset Islais Creek Jackson Square Japantown Jordan Park Laguna Honda Lake Street Lakeside Lakeshore Laurel Heights Little Hollywood Little Russia Little Saigon Lone Mountain Lower Haight Lower Pacific Heights Lower Nob Hill Marina District Merced Heights Merced Manor Midtown Terrace Mid-Market Miraloma Park Mission Bay Mission District Mission Dolores Mission Terrace Monterey Heights Mount Davidson Nob Hill Noe Valley North Beach North of Panhandle Oceanview Outer Mission Outer Sunset Pacific Heights Parkmerced Parkside Parnassus Polk Gulch Portola Portola Place Potrero Hill Presidio Presidio Heights Richmond District Rincon Hill Russian Hill Saint Francis Wood Sea Cliff Sherwood Forest Silver Terrace Somisspo South Beach South of Market South Park Sunnydale Sunnyside Sunset District Telegraph Hill Tenderloin Treasure Island Twin Peaks Union Square University Mound Upper Market Visitacion Valley Vista del Mar West Portal Western Addition Westwood Highlands Westwood Park Yerba Buena. But San Francisco (repeat) is the only city in San Francisco County (repeat) so you really only got San Francisco (repeat) here.
San Mateo County. You got: not much! Don’t go! You got Colma and Daly City: you can skip those. Foster City: not much to do there. Half Moon Bay: sounds nice but it is not nice. You got: Atherton, Menlo Park, Brisbane, Belmont, East Palo Alto, Hillsborough, Burlingame, Millbrae. You got three Sans—San Carlos and San Bruno and San Mateo the city—and you can skip all three. South San Francisco is not in San Francisco County (repeat). It is in San Mateo County (repeat). Woodside, Pacifica, Portola Valley, Redwood City: skip those. Moss Beach: never been, not going.
Moving on to Santa Clara County. You got San Jose (repeat), the tenth-largest city in the USA. East San Jose is a city too sort of. King and Story: not a city but has a good name. Cupertino: good spot. Steve Jobs lived there before he died. You got Gilroy. You got Los Altos. You got Morgan Hill. You got Los Gatos and Milpitas and Monte Sereno. You got Saratoga and Sunnyvale (repeat). Palo Alto is a college town with cheap food and smart girls. Eat your fish tacos in Stinson Beach (repeat) and your Caesar salad in Tiburon (repeat) and then drive up to Palo Alto (repeat) and chat up a smart college girl and drive her around the Bay Area. Now that’s an ideal Bay Area day right there. Santa Clara the city is a place. You got Mountain View. You got Campbell. Rucker is a place but not a real town.
Solano County is a county in the Bay Area. You got Benicia. You got Dixon. You got Rio Vista. You got Suisun City. You got Vacaville. You got Fairfield. You got Vallejo (repeat).
An acquaintance I saw on the train works for a magazine but is considering a move to ad work for the money but also because people in her office are over-qualified underachievers and she’d prefer to be around folks with more passion for their jobs.
Content people want more money and ad people want be content people but still make ad-people money, is what we agree on.
At work there is a rotting fish smell in the hallway and I look into a studio where a swordfish is strung up near a harpoon and there is a guy in Gorton’s Fisherman clothes posing for a camera.
I take a picture and consider sending it to her with the caption That swordfish sold out and look where it got him! but I lost her number in a phone-switch and don’t feel like asking around for it in order to send a picture of a fish, and there’s a chance she would think I’m trying to change her mind about her career, which I’m not, it’s just a thing people say, sold out, that doesn’t mean anything, and if I were sending it I would need to edit the caption and add something that indicates the fish was for an ad so she could make the connection to our conversation on the train, but the picture has not been sent, all is moot, let it be and move on.
Now there’s a girl we think is a hip-hop singer walking around the office saying, “Where’s the beer at?”
[Roberta’s has been packed most nights since the two-star Times review, and now when you wait in line you can often hear people talking about the review and what a shame it is that it's so crowded.]
Person in Front of Us: Yeah, OK fine, it’s great that it’s getting so much business, hooray money, but what about the people who like ate there for a year before anyone knew about it and made it what it is? Thanks for treating us like shit, Roberta’s. There the… you know, a band… what band would work? The U2 of restaurants. Or like the Goo Goo Dolls of restaurants. I used to come here every weekend for brunch, but am I going to wait an hour to eat food I could make myself if I weren’t so effing lazy? Fuck no. No thank you. I’ll stay at home and starve. And then get food delivered when I’m done starving.
[It’s Ann, Z, and me, and we’re four people from the door. Z says, It’s retarded how cold it is. I feel a tap on my shoulder. I look back to see the Professor and Bill Murray. The Professor says “Hi kids!” and Bill Murray says:]
Bill Murray: Cold hands, hot pizza! Pizza pie, hot food! I’ma eat all the pies tonight.
Me: Nice to see you, too, Bill.
Bill Murray: Feel my hands. They’re frozen. Don’t squeeze those paws too hard, they’ll shatter. Ice cube paws! Here’s what’s going to happen: I’m going to get inside ASAP. I’m going to sit down. I’m going order two hot boozey drinks. One Irish coffee for me; one hot toddy for this hot slut Professor. If they don’t have booze, I’ll get a coffee and fill it with hooch from my flask. [he shows us his flask] No one talk to me when I drink! I need to warm up in silence before I talk to anyone. When the girl comes to take our order, I’ll say, Whatever the chef recommends. I want the best pie and the best meat. I’m the best boy tonight. Two pizza pies, two ducks, one beefy whatever and a sausage calzone. And two beers. And two more beers for my hot slut girlfriend. That’s my order. Aw shit, it’ll be good. Shit! That’s right! After I eat I will fill the toilet with so much hot shit that Roberta’s will stop being famous for its food and start being famous for the biblical pile of shit I left there. They’ll try to flush it down, but they won’t be able to. It’ll be too much. Too much for the fire department! It will be like a nursery rhyme: They tried and tried / to flush the shit down / but Bill Murray’s brown / was too much for Brooklyntown. / They called in the cops / they called in the priest / but no man could deal / with this poopy beast. / Children came to gawk / all work in Brooklyn stopped. / The Empire State’s hue / was changed to one that looked like poo. So, brown, I suppose / to commemorate all the food / that he pooed / the tale of Bill’s shit / will soon be a hit. Who’s writing this down? Professor, pen and paper immediately!
The Professor: He’s such a talent. This is why I’m with him. For the poo poems. The man jumps into verse any time he goes to the toilet. Let another one rip, Bill.
Bill Murray: Tonight I ate duck / and then had a fuck. / After I fucked her / I was all tuckered / Out. And then to the can I ran / for the urge to purge / was a sudden one / it’s never any fun / to shit on the run / but after lots of duck / and a multi-posish fuck / I find myself under the gun. / All that fucking / will move that duckling / down to your guts / and out it will put putt / from your butt.
The Professor: He’s amazing. Now my ex… that man could not a make rhyme. That’s why it didn’t work out. I need a rhymer.
Bill Murray: She needs a rhymer / I need a rimmer / I need a woman / who’s a little bit slimmer / she needs a grinner / I need a sinner / who will rim me after dinner / she needs a bear / I need a cold stare / and a lick right there / in my derriere! Bingo, bango, print it! Next poem!
The Professor: He’s a genius!
Bill Murray: Genius Bill / never got his fill / of pills / and girls from the Hills / so he drove to Mulholland in his DeVille / and wrangled an old starlet who was planting flowers / outside her bungalow and / drove her to the Roosevelt Hotel and got a room, 503 it was, we ordered room service, whiskey and an omelet / she took lots of painkillers / she was at least 60 and had been in a movie with Bob Hope, and then we humped while The Price Is Right played on the TV. / She couldn’t do any cool posishes because of her bad back. / But believe me, she was a wild little bitch. / She bites, she fights, and keeps it tight from never having kids, / and her mouth was so big she could have fit three of my cocks in there, plus six balls / she gave me her number and said call me, I need you in my life right now. / I’m very lonely. / Old childless actresses are the loneliest West Coast birds.
The Professor: And did you call her?
Bill Murray: Six times.
The Professor: That’s a surprise. I’m proud of you.
Bill Murray: Each time I said something like: Two tickets to bonetown / old ladies on the bus! / old ladies gussy up your sad old rumps! / Bill’s here with his hump bus / what’s with all the fuss? / Why spend all night trying to suss / this out. It’s not rocket surgery / Get on the bus, you lout. / And don’t pout, it makes you look older. “Hump Bus”! That’s a poem.
The Professor: Your best ever!
Bill Murray: Wrong. My best ever is about you. The one that compares you to that ratty old director’s chair I used on the set of Caddyshack. Remember? I emailed it to you two years ago from Hawaii. Frayed, she stayed / I paid, I lied / she sighed / Of all the chairs on this set / you’re the one I get? / I deserve to stand / like a gaffer / I received a beautiful seat / I will cherish my seat foriv / As long as I live / please give / me another shot / remove from my haught / the shiv.
The Professor: Oh William!
Bill Murray: Let’s eat, you hot slut.
[A girl from Roberta’s comes out and pulls Bill Murray and the Professor inside.]
Ann: They can go in? I work here!
A dermoid is a cyst full of hair, fluid, blood, and bones. My buddy Beasely has one on his butt. It’s soft to the touch, and if you poke it hard enough you’ll notice a gooeyness that feels like pudding. Beasely’s dermoid has patches of bristly black hairs. If he forgets to wash his dermoid for a while it will start to smell. That’s true for every body part, but it’s especially true for dermoids.
Beasely has a good attitude about having a dermoid. “Some folks got a tumor, some folks got a conjoined twin. I got a dermoid,” he says. “Life goes on, say la vee.”
“Thata boy, Beasely. Don’t let that dermoid bring you down,” is what I say to him when he talks about his dermoid, which isn’t often. If you had a dermoid on your butt, would you want to talk about all the time?
If you ask Beasely why he has a dermoid, he’ll say it’s hereditary. “All the men on my dad’s side have dermoids.” But that’s just Beasely saving face. Truth is, he has a dermoid because he eats grease, and eating too much grease causes dermoids. Beasely eats all sorts of grease: bacon grease, hamburger grease, eggy grease. Even the grease that oozes from his dermoid, which is borderline cannibalistic.
The internet says dermoids range in size. Small dermoids are typically the size of a quarter, while large dermoids can be as big as grapefruits. Beasely’s dermoid is not on the dermoid-size spectrum. His dermoid is the size of a small car. It’s bigger than most dermoids because even after his dermoid started growing, Beasely never stopped eating grease.
Doctors warned him: “Beasely, you jaggof! If you keep eating grease, that dermoid is only gonna get bigger and bigger.”
He wouldn’t listen. “I’d rather be a happy guy who eats grease and who has a giant dermoid than a sad, dermoid-free guy who doesn’t eat grease,” he said one day while eating grease.
Geez Lousie, Bease. Does stubbornness run in your family, too?
Last summer I asked Beasely how much his dermoid weighs. He said, “Oh hell, I don’t know how much my dermoid weighs. The only scale that’s big enough to weigh this dermoid is at the State Fair probably.”
“What else are we going to do today?”
“I have plans to buy grease and eat it.”
I said that I would buy his grease for the week if he weighs his dermoid at the fair. He agreed.
So we walked two miles to the state fair. We would have driven, but come on, get real. Who has a car that can fit a dermoid as big as Beasely’s?
The fair was crowded. It was so hot out, the dermoid was dripping with sweat and emitting a pungent dermoidal odor.
Beasely got in line with the hogs who were waiting to be weighed. When it was his turn, a crane was brought in and it hoisted his dermoid onto the scale.
The scale said it weighed two tons.
Even now, after everything that has happened, I was never as shocked as I was when I saw that it weighed two tons.
The crane operator dropped his donut. “Hey everyone! This kid has a two-ton dermoid on his butt!” He called the fair manager over and told him Beasely deserved a ribbon for growing such an impressive dermoid.
The fair manager walked over to Beasely. “Let’s see here. A classic gargantuan dermoid on the posterior. Anatomical class 45-J.” He poked it with his fingers. He poked it with his cane. “Gooeyness? Indeed!” He took three long sniffs of it. “Smell? Putrid.” He climbed on top of it and stomped three times. “Durable.”
He took out a Swiss Army knife and cut a slit in the dermoid, causing fluid to ooze forth. The fair manager collected a handful of the fluid and tasted it. “What is your name, son?”
“It’s great to meet you, Beasely.”
“Well? Is this an award-winning dermoid, or what?”
“I’m sorry, no. This is the worst-tasting dermoid I’ve ever come across. Good day to you,” and he started to walk away.
“Wait!” Beasely said. “I meant its size. Is it big enough to win an award or whatever?”
The manager thought about it for a minute and then shook his head. “I’m sorry, no. I’ve seen dermoids this big before.”
“Bullcrap! Where?” Beasely said.
“On the internet. Yours is big, for sure, but in the grand scheme of things, this dermoid is what I like to call a no-big-whoop anatomical curiosity. Come back to the fair when it talks or plays a musical instrument or something truly maaaaarvelous.”
The crane lowered a bummed-out Beasely to the ground.
Two giddy boys ran up to him and poked the dermoid hard, and dermoid fluid covered their hands and faces.