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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dog Meat

People have been asking what it’s like to face a possible death situation. Well, when you know it’s coming, you have to deal with it. We all die sometimes. What is terrifying is to be in one suddenly, without expecting it.

A story:

Some years ago my partner Jerry and I were invited to a small private party in McLean VA (we were visiting DC at the time), and ran into the host in a gay bar. He made jewelry for a living (very bizarre stuff) and called himself “Mad Dog” (which proved providential). The party was for the next evening. We took a very expensive cab ride there.

His house could have been used as a substitute for the Bates home in “Psycho” It was an old wooden clapboard, two stories high, isolated on a little rise, spooky to loot at. Our host met us as the door, naked except for an apron (he’d been cooking for the party---I hasten add this party was not sexual in nature, Mad Dog was just strange). He then introduced us to his rather large Doberman Pinschers: one was a gigantic bitch and the other her somewhat smaller son (still of intimidating size). I am an animal lover, but with strange pets I’ve learned to let them come to me. Not Jerry, who was immediately petting them and bonding. The dogs did cozy up to me after awhile, and I showed them I knew how to pet a dog so he doesn’t want it to stop.

Other guests arrived, and the party then moved to the basement, which was finished and large and, as it happened, a great place for a party. The stout basement door was carefully closed to keep the dogs upstairs.

The party went on for hours, and eventually I was worn out. I asked Mad Dog if there was some place I could lie down, and he said, with enthusiasm, “Oh, there’s a waterbed in the Master Bedroom! You’ll love it!” In the days when I was married, my wife and I had had a waterbed, so it sounded good to me. We made our way to the first floor, and then climbed steps to the second. The door to the bedroom was half open, and when he stepped into the room, Mad Dog saw that both dogs were on the bed, and as he yelled at them, they jumped off and tried to look innocent of any rule violation.

With gratitude, I climbed on to the bed, feeling it bounce under me, and Mad Dog said the party would be over soon and he’d send Jerry to me. He left, and I was alone with the dogs.

He hadn’t been gone two minutes when I realized the dogs had taken up positions, one of each side of the bed, both were making very strange low guttural noises while staring at me with intense concentration.

It terrified me. If those dogs attacked, no one two stories below would hear me no matter whether I yelled or screamed or just died noisily.

For a few scary moments I just listened to their keening, numb with terror, and then I started thinking. The dogs knew who I was and that their master was my friend. They couldn’t be in the habit of attacking visitors, or he wouldn’t have casually left them with me. What could be going on in their canine brains?

Then the obvious answer hit me. I smiled, patted the bed, and said, “OK, come on up.” With great relief (on all our parts) they leaped in the bed and snuggled up to me, happy as puppies.

But I am here to tell you that you cannot sleep with two large dogs on a waterbed. The male started licking himself, which set the bed whirling. Then the female decided to change position with equal results. The slightest movement banished any thought of rest or sleep.

So I climbed from the bed, bid the dogs good night, went to the basement, collected Jerry and got a cab home.

Mad Dog sent me a handsome bracelet, for which I returned my thanks. But I can still get goose bumps when I think of the moment when I thought I was about to become dog meat.
Related Posts:
“Bears,” February 23, 2010
“Recidivist: A Criminal Who Does It Again,” September 10, 2010
“Mary Beth and the Gay Teddy Bear,” September 25, 2010
“The Day Jerry Left,” October 30, 2010
"Parakeets and Me," February 5, 2010
"Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad," May 19, 2010
"Milking Cows," June 8, 2010
"Teaching English to Cats," August 6, 2010
"The Purring Heart," November 23, 2010
"The Dogs In My Life," April 18, 2011
"My Parents and Dummy," May 13, 2011
"Two Cat Stories: Mama and Barney in the Wild," July 9, 2011
"Zoo Stories," August 30, 2011
“Mama Cat Saves My Life,” October 23, 2011
"Stepping on Cats," February 8, 2012
“Snowbirding, My iPhone 5, and the Coming Crazy Cat Trip,” December 5, 2012
"Barney Cat and the Big Mammal Nightmare," January 7, 2013
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

Friday, December 25, 2009


Xmas day. Had to miss usual Xmas eve dinner with friends, since one of them had a major infection, which, of course, I cannot risk contracting. Went instead to see “The Road” I had read the book; it was depressing. Now I’ve seen the movie; even more depressing. However, it is not dull, and the picture makes you think about big topics: life worth living at all costs? Having just had the heart transplant, it is a question that resonates with me. I wasn’t afraid of the operation itself (which, while it takes 4-5 hours is not particularly medically complicated—my cardiologist told me that in medical school they were told you could train monkeys to perform it since it is big pipes attached to big pipes), but I am afraid of rejection issues and being tortured to death in a hospital over the next six months. So far my health is splendid and I show zero signs of rejection, so all is good.

Tonight I go to an Xmas feast at my sister’s home. She and her husband are both major foodies, and we will all overeat the wonderful food. But that is expected at Xmas.

You all have a happy holiday season.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Xmas Eve and the New Heart

My cariologist said that some transplant patiences are afraid of their new heart, and such a bad mindset can lead to rejection issues. Not me. I have a mantra: "This is Douglas Whaley's heart; it's my heart now."

And it's been behaving very well. I feel like a kid again---much more energy. Have been working out with stretching exercises and 30 minutes on the exercycle in the basement. Most of my life I have had a rigorus exercise program, including weights and bodybuilding, and I'd like to get back to that by summer of 2010.

I was scheduled to go over to Ann and Tom's house tonight for their ritual Xmas Eve fondue dinner, but Tom is ill, and, of course, since I have very little immune system, I have to stay away. Tomorrow I will go to Art and Lorri's house for the major Xmas dinner they always prepare, and Tom will stay home (so we're taking turns). These are all part of my chosen family group, and we have been together for decades. Wonderful people who love me.

My own son, Clayton, and his wife Maria will fly in from Seattle on the 30th. Clayton will be feted to a major dinner that night in honor of his 37th birthday, which actually occurred the day before. My ex-wife Charleyne will drive in from Indianapolis (we are still good friends; she has been to visit me 4 times since summer), along with her second ex-husband, Roy Gabriel (also a good friend of mine) and his daughter Terry. Roy (everyone calls him "Gabe") and Terry are African Americans, and Clayton grew up in that family in Indy and with me and my partner (I am gay) in Columbus. It was, to say the least, an interesting childhood, but Clayton emerged from it fine. He works in Seattle helping do computer work on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner (he is in charge of the wiring on the wings), and he speaks, reads, and writes Japanese fluently (which is what got him the job since the wings are being made in Japan). I am throwing a New Year's Eve party in their honor and it looks like around 30 people will attend.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Heart Transplant

A little background:

I am a retired law professor from Ohio State University, living in a suburb of Columbus. Age 66. I had a heart transplant the Monday before Thanksgiving.

The whole experience has been like science fiction. It is one thing intellectually to think you are getting a heart transplant sometime in 2010, and quite another to have a morning phone call (I was working at the computer) on Nov. 23: "Mr. Whaley, we have a heart for you." It was the most startling sentence I have ever heard in my life. Of course, the old heart started beating very fast, but by midnight I had a new one. The surgeon who put it in came by days later and told me that when he first saw it, he thought "that is a beautiful heart." A nurse who watched the operation said that the heart they took was so enlarged that it was three times bigger than the heart they put in. I was home and happy eight days later.

So, from being on the verge of dying, I am filled with life again. I have no major health problems suddenly (except healing the wound and watching for signs of rejection). Amazing!

Happy holidays!