When I was in college I took an internship with a small newspaper because my first choice, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue oil boy, wasn't an actual thing; even though it totally should be. Come to think of it, working at a newspaper writing stories about elderly women making candy is about as far away from my preferred internship than you could possibly get - other than the fact that they both required oil.
Unfortunately finding a place to live for the internship, outside of sleeping in my car, proved to be challenging. The editor of the newspaper (Jake) and his wife took pity on me after I invited myself in and wouldn't leave. It's amazing how accommodating people can be when you hold onto their couch and refuse to let go while shouting "Miiiiiiiine!"
Until this, I was living with my grandparents a few hours away. This was great; thanks large in part to their willingness to feed me and not in any way pressure me to find a job. It was a refreshing change of pace from my dad subtly pushing the classified section under my door in the mornings as I jovially traced the outline of my extended middle finger and passed it back to him like a prison inmate.
My grandparents, unlike my friends at college, were ideal roommates. They rarely slept where they fell, punched holes in the walls, unearthed parking lot signs or convinced me to do dumb things that involved alcohol and a "girl that's totally into you!" I think more college freshmen should have 80 year-old roommates. You'll never be out of butterscotch candy, either.
However as great as it was, it became apparent I needed my own place nearer to the newspaper as my car kept losing parts en route and I'd soon be driving Flintstones-style. Thankfully, Jake agreed to let me stay with him, his wife and two dogs, one of which reminded me of Nick Nolte (the dog, not my editor or his wife), just being scraggly and always having a crazy look in his eyes. The first morning was, admittedly, a little awkward as I awoke to the feeling of a wet tongue on my face. I initially smiled and leaned in before quickly realizing I had been sleeping alone and this was NOT something happy. Before opening my eyes I began hoping this wasn't the way Jake was going to wake me up every day. I mean, he's a nice guy and everything so I'd probably still let him do it. After all, he WAS doing me a favor. It's just, there'd have to be some ground rules. Like, not on the lips or something. Because that'd be weird.
I nervously cracked open an eye. There, staring back at me, was a fuzzy white face, a cold wet nose and a stale smell.
"Mom?" I asked, inquisitively?
Once my eyes fully adjusted I discovered it was the couple's tiny Shitzu dog, Toby. Sensing I wasn't completely awake, Toby started biting my ear. I bit him back. I've watched Animal Planet. You have to show these dogs what's what.
"Hello dog," I murmured groggily, spitting out his ear. "Go away."
Toby obediently responded by nipping my nose as if to say, "I may look like a marshmallow, but I'll still cut you."
Seeing as though I was much too comfortable in the laying down position, a position that has little chance of producing food, Toby started pulling off my covers because that's just something jerks do.
While I proclaimed, "Leave me alone!" quite clearly, it was translated into "If you keep bugging me I'll give you food!" So he went for backup, bringing in Nick Nolte.
Now, I love dogs as much as the next guy who steps barefoot in their feces in the middle of the night, but I think they get far too much credit and attention than they deserve.
"Funny, I could say the same thing about you," I can hear my wife saying. "Haha," I say. "Get out of my column."
Now, my criterion for measuring friendship isn't outlandish - I only ask that friends listen to my troubles, comfort me in times of great sadness and not eat me if I magically turn into a Little Smokey. After saying this I may have to rule out a few of my beefier human companions.
I've always been curious who voted dogs "man's best friend." Maybe men like their faces licked and I'm the wimp that won't give it a try. I think from now on I'll start asking strange men to lick my face so we can be friends.
If that doesn't work, I can always just get a dog.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via sad puppy eyes. Follow him on Twitter @pancake_bunny or you'll have to clean up after him.