Every once in a while I still manage to commit the kind of vile atrocities that will occasionally land me in that most dishonorable of destinations—the Dog House. It's a place we sometimes unthinking husbands and fathers are all too familiar with. Didn't start dinner before she got home? To the Dog House. Didn't do the pots and pans? Don't bark, just march. Buy something that cost more than fifty dollars without talking it over first? That's it. You're going to the Canine Coffin.
As undignified as being in the Dog House can be, the truth is it's not always such a terrible thing. The Dog House is, after all, a place only people who truly love each other will send each other to perform their penance. Why is that? Why the need for an imaginary prison where, despite the absence of guards, fences or attack dogs, it is every bit as secure as any federal Supermax facility? How is it that being sequestered in a fictitious penitentiary is actually a loving gesture? One reason may be that the affections we share—to say nothing of the oaths we swore on the day day we got hitched—preclude us from inflicting real abuse on each other when one of us crosses the line. For those who are disinclined to harshly castigate their partners—yet still feel the need to avenge their occasional dishonor—temporarily banishing them to the virtual abode of a lessor life form really comes in handy.
Whenever I have been adjudicated guilty of something grotesquely stupid, and Jami or Alycia sentences me to an hour in the Dog House, it is oddly reassuring. I wouldn't be exiled in such a manner if they had in fact lost all hope and truly didn't love me anymore. It shows they have hope for me and my rehabilitation, that I deserve another chance. As long as I am worthy of the Dog House, there's still hope the lawyers won't need to be called in and life won't go seriously sour.
On one occasion I committed the kind of crime the girls thought really deserved a scare. It seems I broke a promise not to play golf one Mother's Day, (like that's a crime), and when I walked into the living room there was a large area cordoned off by cardboard boxes and covered with blankets. Above the make-shift entrance was a poster with the words "Dog House" glaring back at me. When I saw Jami approaching with a doggie dish filled with water, it occurred to me that maybe playing golf on Mother's Day was a crime, after all.
I paid my debt to society that day with honor, remaining motionless in my doggie den for what seemed like hours. Finally, the warden and her young lieutenant consented to my release—just in time for dinner. Soon we were all laughing. It was a laughter permeated with love, and it felt good. Funny thing, though, I never played golf on Mother's Day ever again! ▪