I will laugh like a baboon on magic mushrooms if someone slips on a banana peel or steps on dog poop or accidentally falls off a cliff, but I will never laugh at a bad joke.
Unless it's from my neighbor, Jackie Cornstarch.
"Who's walking who?" Jackie exclaims each time he spots me walking DJ.
And without fail, I muster a forced chuckle and answer, "He's walking me."
And without fail, Jackie will guffaw.
But Jackie is the neighborhood's go-to guy when you have a leaky roof or a blocked drain or a bat in your basement. He's equipped with an arsenal of tools, ladders and enough duct tape to patch the Panama Canal. When the going gets rough, you want Jackie on your side. So I break my own rule and laugh at his stale jokes.
The thing is that these days, Jackie's got a point. DJ has become the boss. Gone are the days of adhering to our well-established walking schedule—a routine engraved in stone for over a decade. Now, DJ dictates our walks, demanding my presence whenever he desires. He communicates his needs through a series of head nods and an ear-piercing bark, irrespective of the hour. Whether it be the ungodly hours of 5 am or the final moments of 11:30 pm, amid tornadoes, earthquakes, or tsunamis, I am at his beck and call. My sole consolation is that at least I can grab a snack and eat it outside without getting caught.
In the past, I would never have allowed such a situation. I held firm control over DJ, a stern drill sergeant imposing order and discipline. However, as the sands of time slipped through our fingers, our relationship evolved into one of equality—a meeting of tiny minds flowing with the current, getting washed up on shore with all the other flotsam and jetsam.
But then I got thinking: who cares? Is this a military operation or a corporate empire? Does it truly matter who commands, as long as the arrangement serves its purpose? I do not profess to relish DJ's relentless nudging for walks at all hours, but I acknowledge its insignificance. Things could be worse, my wife could padlock the fridge after 10 pm.
And so, when Jackie Cornstarch teases me daily about the battle for control, I find solace in my indifference. It may be a corny joke with a grain of truth, but I need Jackie standing by my side when adversity strikes. Ditto for my dog. So if I have to laugh at a few bad jokes and be an on-call dogwalker, it doesn't matter. Things work, say I, and it doesn't get any better than that.