He Said, She Said

The life of letters: Being married with a vocation in common is hard work — and tons of fun, as screenwriter and creative director Partrick O’Connor and English professor and novelist Margaret McMullan continue to prove. “He Said, She Said” are excerpts from their writerly exchanges — daily e-mails to each other.

Patrick: Hey M., another Youth First auction is coming up.Do I hear $500 for the puppy? If you recall, we came pretty close to picking up an extra hound last year, with you handling the paddle.

Margaret: Haven’t we bid on a few too many items that we don’t need at various auctions throughout our fair city?

Patrick: Sure,we’ve bid on lots of interesting things we don’t need, but isn’t that what the charity auction is all about? Bidding on things we don’t need, to help out a good non-profit? I mean, if we really needed the things,we’d probably just go buy them at the store. Auctions are all about IMPULSE, baby!

Margaret: That’s true.

Patrick: And we’ve “won” lots of things that we never even used, like that Amsterdam trip we “won” last year at the Evansville
Day School gala.

Margaret: Admittedly, you didn’t talk me into that – Tay Ruthenburg did.

Patrick: I believe I was in the car, on my way to the event, when you pulled the trigger on the Amsterdam trip. And remember the four-day stay in the New Orleans hotel that was destroyed by Katrina before we got around to staying there? That was the WNIN Gala auction.

Margaret: Yes – some of our auction adventures have turned out to be busts. But you have to admit, a new puppy is the LAST thing we need. Think of our camel-hair rugs from the deserts of Afghanistan. They’ve been through war AND Samantha, our resident four-legger. Not sure if they’d survive a puppy.

Patrick: We could roll up the carpets for a few months. Besides, people have told me that the older dog teaches the new puppy how things work, so they’re not as much trouble. Samantha could teach this new puppy about her favorite potty spots in the yard and where to find the best sticks on which to chew.

Margaret: And she’d teach her where to find the smelliest dead things in the woods in which to roll, and where to hide when she thinks you’re going to give her a bath. Another dog? Have you lost your mind?

Patrick: I’ve reached an age where I’m beginning to accept my shortcomings – one of them is a strong affinity for dogs. Two dogs would be twice the fun!

Margaret: Let’s consider getting “stuck” with what we’ve won in the past. There are the vacations we never took, the artwork we’ve never hung, the dinners we’ve never eaten… Oh, and the lamp we got for $50 in Bay St. Louis, the one with all those trinkets you get from gumball machines glued over the base. You love to haul that one out at the end of dinner parties for the last good laugh. So here’s a simple question: what if our second dog is a dud?

Patrick: I suppose that’s possible. I wonder if you can get an additional tax deduction if the puppy you “won” at a charity auction tears up your rug and furniture? If that’s the case,we might be able to deduct all the destruction that normally occurs with a new puppy. I’ll ask our accountant.

Margaret: I feel as though we should seek counseling.Maybe we should contact Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer.

Patrick: Ah! And you know he says there’s no such thing as a bad dog. Just bad owners. If you stay calm and assertive, the dog turns out perfect. Every time.

Margaret: By the way, Sam climbed up on the counter and ate an entire loaf of bread this morning.

Patrick: What kind?

Margaret: The whole grain with flax seed. Oddly, she left the bag of cookies.

Patrick: Good dog!

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