Last week's This American Life episode, "Break Up" had me laughing alone in my car so hard that I'm sure passers-by thought I was crazy. The last skit of the show was taken from a stand-up comic, Merrill Markoe, who tried to give us a glimpse into what dogs think about divorce.
Here is the passage:
Here is the passage:
Today our friend Paul came to the house in a near dissociative state of panic. Suddenly and without warning it appeared his marriage was unraveling.
He sat down on the big red couch in my living room , I offered him some vodka and he cautiously began to detail his anguish.
“Up until yesterday if you had asked me if my marriage was a happy one, I would have said yes, “ he said, choking back tears, his voice quivering with emotion,” and then last night, out of the blue, my wife comes in and tells me she wants a divorce.”
As Paul spoke , his voice full of shock and misery, our dog Puppyboy, a skinny brown and black Tijuana Shepherd, approached him. It appeared to be one of those moments of poignant intuitive empathy that people and animals sometimes share…right up until the moment I noticed that Puppyboy’s mouth was full of a large black completely deflated soccer ball. To Puppyboy, a ball is still a ball whether or not it is currently filled with air. And any occasion, even one that involves tears, is as good as any other to begin a game of “Fetch.” So he placed the flat wet piece of rubber gently on Paul’s knee, where it balanced like a rock at Stonehenge, then sat down right in front of Paul to wait for the games to begin. Paul, however, was too upset to notice.
“She told me she wants to start seeing other men,” Paul said, in a voice riddled with pain. When he began to sob, it was heart rending, At least it was to me, Though apparently not to Puppyboy who saw it as a cue to apply a little additional first inning pressure. So he moved the deflated piece of rubber from the edge of Paul’s knee to a new spot on Paul’s thigh, thus relocating it just a teensy bit closer to Paul’s hands, for his added convenience. And having rectified the problem, Puppyboy sat back down in front of Paul and resumed his ceaseless staring, confident that he was applying just the right amount of additional pressure to at finally at long last kick off the start of the game.
Unfortunately Paul had the bad manners to be completely preoccupied by his own tragedy.
“I have no idea what I am going to do,” he said, as Puppyboy moved in a little closer, and began staring a little harder, his eyes going intently from the flat ball balancing on Paul’s thigh… to Paul’s face… and then back again, as if to create a sort of pyschic google map for Paul out of thin air, in case he was having trouble figuring out where exactly that flat ball might be located.
“It’s been just emotionally devastating, ”Paul continued, “Everything I’ve worked for has fallen apart. And what happens to me now? Am I going to lose everything? My house? My cars? My life savings?”
The more gruesome and painful Paul’s story became, the more convinced Puppyboy was that it was only seconds until start time. So he picked up the flat ball off Paul’s thigh and moved it to the most conveniently located spot of all, the very center of Paul’s lap. After which he sat back down in front of Paul and resumed staring , his face as bright with expectation as a pre-school age child on Christmas morning. Secure in the knowledge that he had found the perfect leg spot at last, Puppyboy sat poised at-the-ready, confident that it was mere seconds until a frenzy of throwing activity would begin…
I sat and watched in awe as Puppyboy continued to pursue his inappropriate quest for the whole two hours that Paul was at our house. Despite the fact that Paul never acknowledged him at all.
Later that night, after Paul had gone home to pick up the pieces of his shattered existence, I began to wonder what Puppyboy was saying to himself during this piece of behavior, which, looking back, seemed to be akin to trying to start a game of catch with a man whose entire body was trapped in the basement of a collapsed building. So I asked him.
Hello, new seated person. I am Puppyboy and I can see that you are very upset for some reason. But I have something on my mind.
It is an idea so big that I can hardly hold my head up from the enormous weight of it. It is more than an idea. It is an urgent message. I am going out on a limb here and tell you that It is the most important thing I have ever had to say. And it is this: I have placed a thing on you that you must throw.
If you look down now you will see it. It is that large flat thing that is balancing on your knee. It is stretchy and chewy and damp: everything a large flat thing should be. Please listen to me when I tell you that this is an opportunity you cannot pass up.
The reason I feel I must tell you that I have placed this large flat thing on the edge of your knee…by the way, You have noticed that your knee has a big flat wet thing balancing on it, haven’t you?. Or are you so busy sobbing and weeping and talking about yourself that you are having trouble seeing it.
Here’s a hint: I am staring at it right now. So if you can imagine a laser beam coming from my eyes and then follow it down to the spot on your leg where it is focused, it will lead you right to it..
Now either you see it or you need to get your eyes tested.
The only other possible explanation for your puzzling lack of interest is that you are purposefully ignoring me. And why would you do that? That doesn’t make any sense.
Especially since you are really hurting yourself more than you are hurting me. Because let’s face it…you’re the one who is passing up a great opportunity.
And by a great opportunity I am referring to the chance to have the kind of fun that everyone dreams of having. I speak of the chance to throw a big flat stretchy wet thing.
Think about it for a second.
It is a thing that can be chewed but does not really need to be swallowed.
It is at once like dinner and nothing like dinner at all.
It is tough and meat like and moist like a dead thing, but, here’s the kicker: It’s all of the fun of a dead thing and none of the attendant trouble. It stinks like a dead thing, and you can roll on it, or take it with you to bed like a dead thing.
It can be stretched and laid upon and pulled apart like a dead thing. But it can also be flung repeatedly, without coming apart in a million pieces and losing all its guts like a dead thing… if you can you believe your good luck.
AND guess where it is right now? It is now right in your lap. I cant believe you would be foolish enough to pass up this chance .
I don’t want to be preachy, but In life there are certain moments that may never come again. This, I believe, is one of those moments for you Throw it now or live a life of regret.
I mean I can’t stop you if you’d rather just listen to yourself talk. Wife wife wife, she did this, she did that, really fascinating.
FOR CHRISSAKES LISTEN TO ME YOU WHINEY HEN PECKED …JUST Look in to my eyes, and play along!
Pick up the big flat wet thing.
Pick up the big flat wet thing.
Pick up the big flat wet thing. PICK IT UP.PICK IT UP. PICK UP THE BIG FLAT WET THING?
CAN YOU HEAR ME OKAY? BIG UP THE BIG FLAT WET THING.
Are you even listening? You know, Maybe if you had LISTENED A LITTLE BETTER DURING YOUR MARRIAGE your wife wouldn’t want a divorce. DID you ever think of that? IT WOULDN’T SURPRISE ME IF YOU NEVER THREW THE THINGS THAT SHE BROUGHT YOU EITHER!
How can you not think that's hysterical?!