Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ahoy Mate!!!

Growing up, I had always been an admirer of men in uniforms. The girl who lusted after marines in movies about shipwrecks. Not anymore. And no matter how persuasively my friends beg, I still wont go running around Manhattan during Fleet Week hoping to kiss a Skipper. For all I care, they can just go drop and play dead. Don’t worry, it will all make sense by the end of this column…TRUST me!

Why Yes!

Dogs! Man’s best friend…but for me, they have been nothing more than mere acquaintances. The superficial kind at that. Every now and then, I’ll flash a fake smile at them on an elevator as they grunt and groan but unlike most oafs that salivate at my feet…the four-legged kind never get far with me. Or at least that’s what I thought!

I met my male love interest in this story (more of a supporting actor, if you ask me) during my senior year of college. By then my friendship with Jenny from Compton had sailed south, so savior came in the form of an older and Busty Italian woman who lived in town. Gina was a thirty-something who swore like sailor (Ugh that simile was not intended…you will realize later why) and a visceral desire to be cultured even though she had barely left our college town but for a few times to sightsee….in New Jersey! On a wild night out at Sparrows (the local dive bar in town) I was busy dancing with my sorority sisters to Shania offensively spat out of a jukebox when a strange woman approached me.
‘You’re beautiful…men love you don’t they? How would you like to put those good looks to some use and make a few extra bucks?”
Now let me add that in the country-bumpkin town where I slaved through my undergraduate years…anything was possible. And I’m not talking about just mullets, incest and toothless grins. But before I could even pretend to look appalled at such a job offer (notice I said pretend), the woman cackled her signature laugh and added ‘Calm down Mama-Sita…aint asking you to sell your good stuff…just wanna know if you would like to bartend at my next party.’
With that, she sandwiched her business card in my hand and disappeared in the smoky crowd of the pub as quickly as she had arrived.
‘Oh Em Jee….she was like ewww tots lesbionic on you!’ A sorority sister crept up behind me. But never one to decline an opportunity to explore a potential intriguing situation, I pushed the card back in my pocket where other numbers of mullets and toothless grins had been collected throughout the night.

Turned out, Gina was a local event planner and in a town like this…it didn’t take much to impress. You could festoon a room with crepe paper buntings or have the entrees catered by Popeye’s and clients would think they were attending a glamorous gala. When I finally did call Gina…she was definitely an interesting character which as you know is a friendship prerequisite for me. She informed me that she was planning a party that weekend for a local group of military veterans. Old rich farts with retired money and ‘limp youknowwhats’…was how she described her clients.
‘I pay you a flat 200 and whatever you make in tips is yours to keep….which can be way more than what I pay you but it all depends on how well you work the crowd!’
Easy cash in college, an interesting experience. Why NOT?

On Friday night, I showed up to work in a pair of camouflage pants (borrowed conveniently from a gay friend), a white wife beater/Titi banyaan (borrowed from a frat guy) a dog-tag around my neck and a green bandanna on my head that I had found lying around my dorm room. In hopes of a few extra tips, I made sure my body was well oiled and shiny! Gina seemed pleased with the result. I had also warned her that my bartending skills were as advanced as Meera’s English…in fact non existent. I had never even mixed a drink in my life let alone gone to bartending school.
‘Mama you look good enough to eat” She laughed ‘You think these old farts care about umbrellas in their drinks? Just pop open a bottle of beer, hand it over with a seductive smile, make sure to pour more alcohol than chasers….and there’s your bartending degree right there. By the end of the night, they will be good and drunk and your tips will be worth a mortgage.’
Golden advice that I would live by if my career in advertising ever fails.

True to her word, I was making lots of money when the party began. The hungry oogled attention from the men was kind of flattering too. Yes, I had officially reduced years of bartending school to simply pouring grey goose in a glass and handing it over with a wink. The tipsy men would then suck in their gutts and narrate war tales of their bravery or the time they passed through South Asia or the Middle East. ‘Some of the best looking women I have seen, I tell ya.’
‘Why thank you’ I would reply with a carefully rehearsed bat of an eyelid.

The youngest of the bunch was a ruggedly handsome man in his mid thirties. Dark hair, a Jackie Shroff moustache (my weakness as you know) and BIG hands. What more could a girl want? As he chatted away with his older comrades, leaning against the wall, he eyed me voraciously from across the room. A Corona cocked on his waist and a leather jacket pegged on a finger and draped with masculine bravado on his back. Not gonna lie, I was beginning to like this new job, fringe benefits and all. Who would have thought that such a handsome man could grace his presence at such an antiquated affair. Our flirtation grew heavier and heavier as the night unrolled and our stolen looks or subtle smiles kept getting flirtier and flirtier.

By the end of the night even though the room had thinned out, my Fauji # 1 remained glued on his spot moving only to huskily order a drink and then discreetly brush his fingers against mine. By the last hour, we found ourselves engaged in a flirtatious conversation and before the end of the party, we had exchanged emails. It turned out that he lived almost 2 hours away from me and thus an immediate date wasn’t really possible. Our courtship was then reduced to heavy email flirting which got quite graphic at some points but at other times he would excitedly type about a new puppy he had just bought from a pound and how they were enrolling into dog school together. We kept the cyber flame alive for a while but inevitably, it fizzled out because of our distance.

A few months later, Gina and I had decided to go clubbing in another city in hopes of finding more interesting men than the vapid mundane duds we were often stuck with in town. After hopping through a few bars, we landed in a dive with Karaoke and pathetic drink specials. We were almost grabbing our coats to head out when in walked Fauji # 1. No sooner had he entered that our eyes locked immediately. We greeted each other excitedly grinning from ear to ear at such a perfect surprise.
‘That’s the guy from your army vet party’ I nudged Gina with my shoulder ‘The one I’d been talking to for a while!’
‘Well then sweetie you need to do your part for this country…do it for Uncle Sam!’
You now realize why I loved this crazy Gina! Who wouldn’t?

Fauji made his way over to us and immediately began to buy us both drinks. Conversation was quite fun and in fact it was almost endearing to watch him boast lovingly about his new cherished puppy. We gushed at his sensitive side and towards the end Gina threatened to terminate our friendship if I didn’t go home with this kind gentleman.
‘They put their lives on the line for us...its the least you can do! Wait I forgot…you’re not even American…well then think of it as infiltrating the enemy camp!’

So off I went to infiltrate. When Fauji and I landed at his house, I was impressed with how tastefully decorated his abode was for a bachelor pad. But no sooner had I entered the living when a giant Yeti pounced at me forcing me to emit the loudest shriek. The Fauji smirked as he calmed the ferocious beast ‘Down boy…that’s Padash…daddy likes her!’
Ok…so time-out… when he was going on and on about this beloved puppy of his, I was imagining more of a daschund or something compact enough to fit into Paris Hilton’s purse. This gargantuan monster however, could be the stunt double for King Kong…or Sunil Shetty.
‘I see you’ve met Sailor’ he gushed ‘you’re not going to scare away daddy’s guest are you Sailor? You’re a good boy right Sailor…down boy…down boy…we like Padash…she’s pretty isn’t she?’
Yeah, yeah, yeah…the baby talk was all cute and dandy but I grew up in a country were dogs were mostly watchdogs and kept OUTSIDE the house…and in locked CAGES! Go ahead call me inhumane…but I believe in humans rights before animal rights!

After our nightcap, I was just about ready to kill that stupid dog. As we made out on the couch the Fauji had the audacity to stop and smirk ‘I was told never to trust a girl who keeps her eyes open while kissing.’
My eyes are open you big BUFFOON because I am searching around the room for a knife or better yet a Kalashnikov to silence your damn pet. But don’t worry, I said none of that out loud.
‘You ok?’ He asked when he could clearly tell that I couldn’t reciprocate his attempts for physical intimacy. Some Ritalin for your dog would be nice, I wanted to say but decided on being the solution to the problem myself. ‘Why don’t we take the party to your bedroom?’
‘I thought you would never ask’ he purred in his dreamy voice.
Honestly, I just wanted to make a run for our lives like they did in Jurassic Park (all three movies).

Now, I had done plenty of threesomes with Jenny in college BUT this bed (and my threshold) was not strong enough for bestiality. There was room for only one bitch in this room, and I was not going down without a fight! While my Fauji undressed, I stood and stared at his ‘little puppy’ scurrying around the room like Godzilla preventing an invasion of his kingdom.
‘You don’t plan on letting him stay here do you?’ I asked uneasily.
‘Is that a problem?’
Umm Hello? Would you trust Zardari with your bank account? I hate it when men ask the obvious? I mean I fully understand that once upon a time my date had been deployed in remote areas for years on end but did he not know that doggy-style doesn’t necessarily actually involve a real dog! Plus what he thought was so nonchalant was probably illegal in some states and probably only an acquired taste in Europe.

He took the hint from my expression and requested Sailor to excuse us. Sailor resisted with pleading grunts and Fauji’s eyes melted as he too cajoled me to relent. Hey, I’m not the villain here and stop acting like I just asked you to stake a knife through your only child’s chest. I just stood there with my arms folded. I now needed a trump card to win this argument, so I decided to strategically peel off my shirt. One last whimper and Sailor was out the room. Door locked.
‘He’s going to howl all night and wake up the neighbors.’ Fauji remarked.
‘Well we just have to make sure to drown out his noise with our own.’

All that trouble and buildup for such an anti-climactic performance. Lets just say our Fauji wasn’t the best in the sheets. I’m not going to lie, I had come with some high hopes, I mean after all, when what he had described as a ‘little’ puppy ended up being Old Yeller on Steroids, I could only hope it was a good sign of things to come. Oh but alas, Paris Hilton and her Prada would have still managed to find a Chihuahua in this house. That and the fact that Cujo’s spawn was diabolically scratching the door the whole time, and dog howling isn’t really romantic background music to make love to. After the grand finale, which came quicker than a speeding ticket on a highway in this economy, I rolled over and went to bed. By now, even Fauji was quite disappointed at my disappointment and knew that no diplomacy could ever bring world peace to this situation. So, he too threw in his towel, unlocked the door and invited the dog into…the BED!
‘Are you kidding me!’ I threw away the sheets.
‘I’m sorry’ He replied sheepishly ‘But he always sleeps in my bed. He will bring this house down if I don’t let him.’
I have never been much of a cuddler but I thought you men appreciated that about me! But at that point there was nothing I could do. I was hundreds of miles away from home in a strange man’s bed whose PTSD was now being tested by two biotches and I clearly was the other woman in this marriage. So without much of an option, I fully acknowledged that if I were to live this life of going home with strangers, I was not allowed to be surprised if every now and then I then found myself being spooned by Lassie. I threw my arms up in despair and tried my best to fall asleep.

Trust me dear readers when I say that this was one of the most challenging nights of my life. I lay there petrified, sleepy as hell but each time I managed to doze off for even a second, a slight move would remind me that the hirsute fellow behind me had four legs instead of two. I desperately counted the minutes to sunrise and promised myself to lead the life of a pious, celibate, recycled virgin when I got back to campus. I was never going to fornicate with a strange man ever again. We all know how long that lasted! LOL!

Fortunately, soldiers have an innate habit of waking up fresh at the crack of dawn. So luckily my hours in bed with a dog and his pet only lasted a few, excruciating hours – though the hours were comparable to getting a root canal during an earthquake. I jumped out of the bed, showered and was ready in less than 15 minutes. It took another 20 to get out of the house because Sailor had to be served his Kibbels for breakfast. Two very silent and awkward hours were spent in the car where – and I kid you not – a country station decided to play ‘Who let the Dogs Out’ by Baha Men. What next? An Eponymous medley by Snoop Dog.

I couldn’t be more happy to get home. The uncomfortable goodbye that usually follows a bad one-night stand seemed to have happened more with the canine grunting in the backseat of the jeep than the guy driving. Later that day, after I had managed to catch up on my sleep and scrub myself endlessly in the shower, I met up with Gina for our Sunday ritual of a 3pm brunch at a local diner. I narrated my entire night to Gina who spurted her milkshake around our booth in hysterical fits while I cringed and prayed for amnesia. After an awkward few minutes of silence, Gina’s eyes lit up while nibbling on a fry.
‘Padash’ she excitedly shared her Eureka ‘I hate to tell you this but you just tricked with a dog.’
‘I did NOT!’ I retorted tossing a fry furiously at her.
‘Well did you or did you not spend the night with a dog?’ she inquired in her most lawyerly voice.
‘Well…yes but…’
‘So you agree that you did sleep with a dog last night?’
‘Yes… but…’
‘Did you at any point feel the dog lick or nibble your ear?’
‘Yeah but…’
‘Can the same be said for the owner of the dog?’
‘No, the man didn’t even know the word foreplay existed?’
‘What was the man’s name anyway…’
‘Umm…umm….’ Ok dear readers to my defense, I’m terrible with names.
‘And the name of the dog?’
‘Sailor’ I answered in seconds and that’s when my eyes widened with shock and disgust ‘Oh my God Gina…I did just sleep with a DOG!’

Some people need years of therapy to get over a trauma such as this. Me? I just share it with you all. Sorry guys I really needed to get it out of my system! And like a drunk in a recovery support group, I can almost hear the chowk room chorus with ‘Thanks for Sharing!’

We usually hope never to run into one-night stands ever again – there is a reason they only last for a night. Wrong! Sometimes and especially with luck like mine, we bump into them at the most awkward of moments. This situation was no exception either. Almost a year later, Gina and I had decided to spend a weekend camping. It was singles weekend at a campground and we were enjoying the pool under the sun and weighing our options from the eclectic array of the opposite sex.
‘Well so much for hoping we don’t run into any ex’s this weekend.’ Gina commented as she returned from the restroom and stretched out on the plastic chaise longue next to me.
‘Did you run into Donald?’ I was sincerely worried for Gina because Donald was an ex who had left her severely devastated.
‘Nope, unfortunately its one of yours.’
And then I heard a familiar bark. As I pushed up, I saw none other than Sailor galloping towards us. We stared awkwardly at each other for a few seconds but then we handled the encounter quite maturely. It was best not to engage in any small bark, I mean talk. The owner of the dog was not far behind but to this day, I can’t for the life of me remember his actual name. As for Sailor…we tried to steer clear of each other for the rest of the weekend. Besides, he got enough female attention from single bikini clad women all weekend who stopped to coo over ‘his cute furry-ness’. And if you’re wonder, no, I wasn’t jealous. Some even followed him back to spend a night with the owner…I definitely wasn’t jealous of that either. I just chose to be mature and look the other way.

What can I say! Men are dogs… I just slept with one!

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