Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to End a Relationship in 20 Simple Steps

In honor of the 1st anniversary of the event. Here's a story my most irresponsible behavior last year.

How to End a Relationship in 20 Simple Steps
by David Rodwin

I lost the dog.

This is not a euphemism.

I lost the fucking dog! I lost HER dog. The dog I’m dog sitting. As in, I have only one real responsibility in my life right now and I fucked it up royally.

If she finds out, this is over. I’m such an idiot. I mean how do you lose a fucking dog?

Instructions on How to Lose a Fucking Dog:
1) Take the dog on a vigorous morning 30 minute run. Stop every time the pooch wants to pee. Then pick up his poop not once, but twice. (Is that normal?) Ask yourself why you agreed to take care of a dog in Long Beach for 5 days for a woman you started dating just 5 weeks ago.
2) Return home. Shower. After months of procrastination, on the last day possible, complete your UCLA business school application because you’ve given up on ever finding success as a writer in Hollywood. Hit send.
3) Put the laundry in the washer, because you didn’t bring enough underwear down to Long Beach. Ask yourself again what you’re doing living out of a suitcase in your new girlfriend’s place in Long Beach while she’s at a spa in the Berkshires.
4) Realize you’re running late if you’re going to take the hound to the park and still make it on time for your meeting in Venice concerning you co-writing the ‘book‘ for a Pat Benatar “jukebox” musical - the very idea of which makes you want to kick every Broadway patron who went to see “Mama Mia” in the balls.
5) Throw the leash on the pooch and dash out to the dog park, being careful to lock the front door which is actually a heavy sliding door that opens into the kitchen in this home which is an old cottage behind a main house.
6) Try to wear out your dog as much as possible at the park because you’re gonna be gone for 5-6 hours and you feel like that might be too long, but you’re not sure since you’ve never had a dog, and frankly don’t even like dogs. At all.
7) Attempt to make the dog stop mounting the other dogs in the park by shouting his name, MEMPHIS!, mostly in vain.
8) Feel grateful, but also useless because your girlfriend’s regular dog walker happens to be there and she’s able to call the dog’s name and get him to stop mounting the other dogs better than you.
9) Realize you’re WAY late if you’re gonna get to Venice on time. Rush home.
10) Feel like a man because you told the dog to sit in order to take off his leash and he sat.
11) Take of the dog’s leash and choke collar. (He is an adult pit/lab mix after all. And she’s only had this rescue dog 6 weeks. So he’s as new to this place as you are.)
12) Give the dog fresh water.
13) Entice the dog to eat the untouched breakfast you put in his bowl after the morning run by pretending you don’t want him to eat yet, and then giving him an energetic “OK!”
14) See the dog obediently going to the dish and start lapping up water and think, “I’m getting the hang of this dog thing.”
15) Throw your laptop into your bag.
16) Realize you should put the laundry into the dryer before you take off.
17) Go to the garage to put it in.
18) Hear a jingling in the kitchen.
19) Come into the kitchen to see that you’ve left the front wide door open when you came in from the dog park and the pooch is nowhere to be seen.
20) Freak the fuck out.

I ran outside as abject horror coursed through my veins. I’d lost her fucking dog.

I start yelling his name, “Memphis!”

My girlfriend, J., knows I don’t like dogs and she’s gonna think I did it on purpose. Maybe I actually did it subconsciously because the dog is an incredible impediment to our relationship. Let’s just say he takes to me like a fellow suitor and any time we’re in bed he barks, yelps, whines and sometimes even hops up on the bed. The result is that mid-coitus, J, stops what we’re doing points at him, and in the sternest voice possible yells “Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.” And let me tell you, it hard not to take those instructions as well - and that becomes a problem. And yet she wouldn't let me shut the door for our lovemaking. She was concerned it might be psychologically traumatizing, that Memphis would associate our intimacy with being excluded - which apparently is the worst punishment you can give to a dog.

I’ve never dated a woman with a dog. My roommate has confirmed that in his experience, the dog will always win out over me. And she loves this dog like nothing she’s ever loved before. She can never stay overnight at my place because she has to come home to walk the dog. She’s tethered to her “Little Man”, so I might as well take up residence in Long Beach if I’m gonna get serious with her. A friend told me how years ago he waged an all out 6-month war against a girlfriend’s dog and won. She finally realized it was him or the dog. She chose him. Then she cheated on him.


This relationship is over. There will be no forgiveness when she finds out.


I hear a jingling. It’s coming from a neighbor’s yard - the loser who blasts 3rd rate R&B every afternoon. I leap up to peek over the fence and I see Memphis. Thank God.

But how did he get in there? I race into the house thinking maybe I can get there quicker by going out the side porch entrance (another sliding door). From there, I bolt through the main house’s back yard, through a gate and into the front yard. I dash one house over and see a gate blocking the path to the house’s back yard.

“Memphis! Memphis!”

He’s not coming. It’s 2PM. The owner’s probably not at home. Should I knock? What if Memphis gets out the way he got in and runs into the street? I don’t have time.

I open the unlocked gate and race to the backyard calling his name. The place looks like it’s been abandoned. It’s littered like a white trash yard in backwater West Virginia. And Memphis is nowhere to be found. But the owner of the house is.

He’s not happy. He comes out his side door with velocity and I realize this was a bad idea. And if the state of his yard is any indication of his state of mind, I need to talk fast if I’m gonna get out of there.

“I’m so sorry. I lost my dog and saw him in the backyard and wanted to grab him before he did anything.”

“Yeah. Your dog was in my backyard.” He said accusingly. “Then he ran into the street.”

Oh, fuck. We’re 50 yards from a major a major intersection featuring 6 lanes of death inducing traffic. I race toward the gate. I must escape.

“I am so, so sorry.”

He doesn’t have a gun does he? I hear people in Long Beach have guns. Snoop Dogg lives here. Well, maybe not in this part of the LBC. I don’t know. Where the fuck AM I?

I’m on the sidewalk now. And there’s Memphis. The Gods are being kind today.

I call his name and he walks further away from me. He thinks it’s some game. I call his name again and approach him with caution. Amazingly, he stops. I get close enough to put on his leash and collar. Thank the heavens.

I walk the long way around the block so I don’t go back the way I came which would bring me to close to the neighbor who’s wrath I fear.

We get home. I close the main door, take off Memphis’s leash and tell him not to do that again. He lies down, covering his face with a paw, clear that he did something that made me upset - even though it’s obviously my fault.

I’m also half an hour late now. I text my friend to delay the meeting. She’s cool with that. I’m not. I hate being late. And rush hour traffic probably starts at 3PM down here. I tell Memphis it’s alright and I give him a green tasty bone as instructed by my girlfriend to distract him when she’s leaving for a while. He takes the bait. I dash out the door, then leap in my car and I’m off. I’m doing 70mph on local roads. I hit the 405 and I’m doing 90mph now - no traffic at all.

I go over in my head the whole sequence trying to determine how I could be so stupid. I think to myself, “It’s that damn sliding door. I’ve never had one and a normal door I could just close by kicking it shut if my hands were occupied.”

Then I remember. I went out the side door to go look for Memphis. It’s a sliding door as well. And I never closed it because I went back the long way to avoid the neighbor.

How to Lose a Fucking Dog Twice in One Day.

1) Be an absent-minded moron in a rush.

I screech off the road at the Carson exit. I head south, but it turns out there is heavy traffic this time of day in that direction. I realize there is nothing else I can do. I don’t know anyone in Long Beach whom I could call to go look for the dog. I have no way of getting there faster. I resign myself to the fate of a true idiot.

I do breathing exercises. My attempt at ‘ujaii breathing’ creates a new form of full body clenching heretofore undiscovered by yogis.

I begin imagining what I’ll do if I find he’s gone and he has a half hour lead on me. I’ll call the police. Do they search for missing dogs or only people? Would I have to wait 24 hours like with people? I’ll put up signs in the neighborhood. Hopefully they’ll call me before they call the number on his tag because then J. will find out how I’ve failed her.

I develop a new level of guilt recalling that Memphis was afraid of me because I was upset with him. Those big sad eyes said “I’m sorry. You hate me. I guess I’m such a worthless dog I should just disappear.” Like every cliché runaway story, he takes off, sure he won’t be missed.

I shouldn’t be imagining that he’s gone. I think ‘The Secret’ is hokum, but what if it isn’t? What if my thoughts are creating reality and my negative vibrations are getting to Memphis and actually causing him to leave.

So banish the bad thoughts and imagine the positive outcome. I picture him under the desk where he likes to hide. I see him sitting on his little bed, happily gnawing on a bone. I envision he’s being carried to the side of the road by the owner of the car who hit him, making them both a bloody mess.

No! He’s fine. For just 15 minutes I have to convince myself he’s OK.

I go through the series of white lies I can tell J. about why I’d left the side door open. As though it’d make some difference. I decide it would be better if I can hide the fact that I lost the dog twice. Once somehow seems golden. But all the lies have gaping holes in their logic. We never use that side door. I’ll have to confess my gross negligence in safeguarding the being she loves more than anything in the world.

It’s OK. I wasn’t attached to this relationship. Sure she’s the coolest, most passionate and grounded woman I’ve met in a long, long time. And sure she rides a motorcycle, has tasteful tattoos, grew up in a Kosher home and my mom who’s friends with her parents set me up with her. But that’s OK. There are other women.

And I get home to find…He’s there. Hanging out. No big deal. I go to the wide open side door and slide it shut. We never use that side door, so maybe he never even considered it a means of egress.

I could nearly kiss the fucking dog for being so stupid. Instead, I pet him. I give him some “Good boys!”, a few treats and then, after I’m sure all doors are closed, I head out. Everything’s OK. She never has to find out. And I’m only an hour late to my meeting to further destroy the American theatre.


  1. heeheehee- so great. I'm just sorry you went through such torture! As always you made it into an enjoyable story that made me smile and laugh.

  2. David, you maniac. So glad this story had a happy ending. And I appreciate your freaking out so exponentially twice in one day so that the rest of us could be entertained. Do it again.