Brawny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (He was Taken Down by a Hyperactive Dog)

One way to relax after a Sunday afternoon herding leaves is to have a couple of beers and sit on the couch with your hand under your belt and watch some football and feel good and fine and strong—and downright brawny, damnit, like the guy on the paper towel rolls—for having worked hard and for having cuts on your hands and dirt under your nails and an easy sort of pain in your muscles. Another way is to swallow two indomethacin and four tylenol and lay flat on your back feeling anything but easy, anything but strong, and cursing your tendency to overdo it and waiting for your kidneys to give out from all the pills. Yesterday, I chose the latter option. I still got in that football thing, though, watching the Giants come back against the Eagles as I faded in and out of consciousness. But it weren’t fun. And I didn’t feel strong … or anything resembling “brawny.”

The AS has been flaring for the last week, I think due to the weird weather, and I haven’t been listening to him. Instead, I’ve been swallowing extra pills and deliberately taunting him with all sorts of names. And I could feel his temper getting hot, but I kept at it. And yesterday, just as I was wrapping up for the evening he hauled back and punished me something good for not taking him seriously, the bastard.

I had started out the afternoon with some roof climbing and gutter cleaning, then moved on to some pruning. Then I blew out the beds and raked the grass in the back yard, rounding the leaves into piles and then transferring them to front curb in batches using a big rubber trash can. And all the while I grunted and strutted and did a great deal of chest thumping and I think while I was on the roof I may have even let out a Tarzan-like howl. And all was good; or rather, okay. I was just teetering on the edge of something, but it was mild and I laughed at it and I said, Is that all you have for me, pussy!

And then I decided to play a game of tug-o-war with Honey. And holy crap she’s gotten strong, and so as I bent over and pulled at the deflated soccer ball and started to lift her up off the ground, doing that dance that we do. And she did one of her crazy, possessed head-jerking-side-to-side things, which caused my body to twist in a direction it wasn’t prepared to go, and I heard it quietly object with a little “whoopsie-daisy” (I hate when my body sounds like Hugh Grant in Knotting Hill) and then—then, I believed. And I stopped, because I knew I had about ten minutes to get someplace warm where I could collapse.

The rest of the night was all about holding on to countertops and railings to stay upright and cat stretches on my hands and knees in the hot, hot shower. And curses in my sleep every time I had to roll over. And this morning I walked Honey at the pace of an 85-year-old man and I squatted to pick things up by holding desperately on to my knees and I implored God, Please, please, God…let me get back up. Don’t let my neighbors find me lying in the street. God understands that when he hears from me, most likely my back is shattered. And I think now he just laughs at me for being his rainy-day friend.

And I’ve been down this road before. And I’ve bored you with the details of the aftermath. And I kind of hate having you see me like this. So I’ll stop now. Otherwise, I’ll be tempted to go on with the whine. And besides, I think it’s time for another hot shower.

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