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August 19, 2006 Edition

Hi Max,

My name is Bailey and I am a 4 year old Lhasa Apso. I am usually a very good boy but I have a problem. Every time my mommy buys me toys, I tear them up, get the squeaker out and leave all the stuffing all over the room. Then, I have nothing to play with. I don’t mean to be a bad boy…….but I can’t help it. Can you help me????? (I also growl if anyone tries to take my toy while I am demolishing it)

Bailey Magoo

Dear Bailey Magoo,

This puts me in mind of Mr. Magoo, who was nearly blind and always wandering into disaster’s front yard (if not actually going inside and having a meal). But you’re not blind. In fact, you’re as perceptive as Max himself. For I too can’t resist killing the stuffed goose that made the golden squeak. And no wonder: that damn thing is enough to drive anyone crazy! *squeak squeak squeak* SHUT UP! It’s maddening. You’re not being bad. You’re being you. You’re a guard dog in miniature from way back. It’s in your nature to tear things up. When humans hear a squeak, they oil it up, wedge a shim into the floor boards, break in the shoe. If we had access to WD-40, we might leave our toys alone. The incoherent growling when you’re hopped up on squeaky-toy is the one thing I’d work on. Look how much trouble it’s brought Mel Gibson.

Hey Max:

My Mommy likes to feed me cherries a lot. Is it ok or are they bad for me?

Are Cherries Deadly

Dear D.C.:

I have heard rumors — though I warn you that I’m no expert on eating things I shouldn’t – that cherries are what the Greek dramatists called cathartic. In Dogamemnon, Oedipus gouges out his own eyes after discovering his mother — his *mother* — served him a bad batch of Mt Rainier cherries. And what comes next is the pits. This also falls into the category of anthropomorphism, another big literary concept from before I was born. That means imparting human qualities to non-humans – such as a taste for cherries and other human food, or putting clothes on pets. Leave us to the dog chow, the Alpo, and the furry nudity.

Dear Max:

every night around 9:30-10:00 my mommy always wraps me in my baby blanket and carries me to bed, which i enjoy very much. but lately she’s been staying up till midnight and i have to go upstairs and put myself to bed! the first few nights i tried sitting at the top of the stairs and crying until she came to bed with me, but now she just says “what my baby” and then ignores me! this is unexceptable (sic)!!! doesn’t she know that i’m a busy pup and need my sleepies but can’t go to sleepies without my mommy tucking me in??? how do i get her to go to bed when I want to go to bed?

very sleepy fluff

Dear Fluff:

You’re clearly young and tired — I’m guessing that explains your inability to capitalize words. Q: Why did the nun take Ambien? A: Because the ad said it could be habit forming. Either that or she was plagued by the abiding injustice in so many realms of human endeavor and experience, and therefore unable to sleep. But that can’t be your problem. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but like the Olsen twins, you’re growing up. There are compensations as you head into adolescence: sexual curiosity, use of the car, talking back, acne. (Not necessarily in that order – save the talking back until after you don’t get the car.) Then, you make your own hours, go off to NYU, learn a little something about who you really are, and write a paper on the American Revolution that essentially blames the colonies. Next, not long after your dorm band falls apart (no drummer or bassist), it’s into the work world, maybe $42K and a basement apartment in Brooklyn that you share with 1 old roommate and 2 people you don’t know or care for. 45 years of bouncing around in go-nowhere jobs, 20 or so years of life in retirement, and then you’re back to people wrapping you in a blanky and putting you to bed. My advice – put yourself to bed whenever you feel the need, bask in the glow of growing up, and find a place to pay rent other than New York.

Or grow up *fast* — order my Mom’s new book, Stupid and Contagious, available now through amazon.com (click here), bn.com, and fine booksellers everywhere. It won’t make you more mature, but you’ll be able to hold your own at parties when someone asks, “Read any good books lately?”

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