Reunited and It Feels So Good

You remember Barfy, that dog whose family accidentally stranded him in the jungles of Borneo? You know, that inspirational story about how he fought off hungry natives, making his way to that rough port town, where he did whatever it took to survive until he could stow away on a ship, only the ship was hijacked by Somali pirates, but then he escaped, and he had to trek across Africa until he met up with a kindly Portugese man who smuggled him to western Europe. But the man wanted to keep him as a pet, and Barfy’s mission was to return home to his loving family in Marietta, Georgia. So Barfy charmed a widower into giving him her frequent flier miles so he could fly to the US,  but the only flight he could get was to New Jersey, so he had to walk the rest of the way.

Of course you remember. His family thought he was dead, but he turned up six years later, mangy, riddled with heartworm, missing one leg and blind in one eye. They made a heartwarming TV movie of the week about him, “Barfy’s Story: One Dog’s Incredible Adventure All 10,385 Miles From the Dog-Eating Savages of Borneo Back Home to God’s Country.” You must have seen it. Jaclyn Smith starred as an improbably good-looking and not morbidly obese Marietta housewife, and at the end, the real Barfy had a cameo role.

True, it was a brief cameo, since by then he was blind and arthritic and senile, and even after a fortune in veterinary bills, he was as gray and mottled as an old dish sponge.

Even if you never caught “Barfy’s Story” on channel 588, you get the point. Small, plucky pet, a living example of how loyalty and unshakable will conquers all.

(Though, even though I hate to quibble, there had always been rumors that Barfy took a few ethical shortcuts to get by in that port, and the “heartworm” was actually venereal disease. And then the widower’s family came forward, claiming that Barfy actually absconded with the frequent flier miles, though that was settled out of court. There was also that inconvenient detail about Barfy’s family forgetting about him, and getting Bella, a yellow Lab. No one talks about that, and they really don’t talk about how Bella made lame, demented Barfy her bitch. … But none of that’s important, because the story’s really about devotion and overcoming incredible odds, isn’t it?)

That’s why the movie is in heavy rotation on the Hallmark Channel in the 2 am slot, between the infomercials for miracle mops and the Abdominator.

Lovely as that story is, it fairly pales to a heartwarming story of our own. You see, like zillions of other parents, my wife and I stumble through our days and weeks with one hand clutching our belts, valiantly trying to keep from suffering the logistical equivalent of having our pants fall down, whereupon we trip on them, fall on our face, and inadvertently moon our mother-in-law. Or something.

Despite this fervent vigilance, child-the-younger’s reusable lunch bag went missing.

It’s not like we have a substitute, a “Bella bag,” so we had to troll the lesser household storage areas for sacks to use. And the bag had to be at school, though time and again we hunted through classrooms, and the lost and found, and the gym in search of the darned AWOL bag.

Weeks passed. And its absence gnawed at us, one of those things that was off. Out of order. Not working. Not right.

We contemplated replacing it, but that meant spending money and time, not to mention a dreaded trip to the department store — shockingly, there is no Greek-named phobia for the dread of wandering aisles of crap merchandise and various Chinese-molded plastics, in search of something you don’t even want to buy.

But just before we girded our souls and credit for such an ordeal … the bag reappeared! It was at school, sitting in the very bin where it was supposed to be. And it didn’t even have heartworm. In my tearful elation, I took a photo of it to include in the blog, but then …

You see, Jaclyn’s currently between projects. And Barfy’s story sold for a fortune. And my 401(k) isn’t doing that great, and — you know how it is.

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Why Writers Go Insane, part 46

I’ve been struggling with writing at night recently. After the kids are in bed, the dishes are done, the laundry’s folded, etc. etc, all I can do is stare at the screen through a haze of dumb fatigue.

So I decided to try something different this morning. I got up before dawn, before the heat was on in the house, dressed in the dark and made a cup of coffee, and huddled under a blanket at the computer in the spare bedroom, trying to wake up and keep warm.

But something about having quiet time in a room of one’s own must send out a signal to the children of the universe, who abhor their parents making progress on external pursuits.

The door to the room swung open, and there was my son. Five days a week I have to scrape him out of bed to go to school, but on Saturday he’d willed himself to get up early, and to come down the hall so he could point at the monitor and ask to play his computer game.

What could I do? He was up. I couldn’t ignore him for an hour. I bargained with him and said I needed to finish the paragraph I was working on. The whole time he kept noting how long it was taking.

Total elapsed writing time: 13 minutes.