Earlier today I was putting down some fresh newspaper near (one of) Manzi's favorite bathroom spots when I saw a folded up piece of paper with my name on it sticking out from below her bed. I failed to recognize the handwriting, which isn't saying much since I can only recognize Julia's and (barely) Uli's, and could not remember ever seeing the paper before, so I picked it up. After scanning down the full page of chicken scratch to see who the letter was from, I was met not by a signature - or rather, a written signature - but by a firmly stamped paw print. Here is what I read:
Since you seem to have taken over the majority of fatherly duties since I arrived five weeks ago, I found it fitting to write you a letter on this Father's Day. You may not realize it, but I notice all that you've done for me and I appreciate it. Especially that time you laughed off the fact that I threw up on your lap. Or the time before that when I went number 1 on your lap. Basically, I appreciate you not holding my penchant for disposing of not-so-nice liquids on your lap.
At first I had my doubts about you, I admit, but you really earned your stripes in my book just one week after I took up residence in Casa Cochabamba. I'm not sure if you remember, but it was the night of Ulises's birthday party. You had put me in your (or, as I like to think of it, our) room after the masses had petted me, held me, and spoke to me in that stupid baby/doggy voices humans love to use to their heart's desire. I was clearly tired, but like so many who feel empowered to the point of invincibility by their youth, I defied your bedtime suggestions and re-immersed myself into the party. I was met by a chorus of cheers, triumphing my return to the crowded kitchen like Caeser coming home to Rome from the battle field. (And you thought I wasn't paying attention to Gladiator last night. Russell Crowe was a stud, but nothing compared to those dogs who mauled the barbarians at the beginning of the movie. Mmmhmmm, break me off a piece of that.) But soon after, the adrenaline wore off and I realized it was 4:30 and I needed to curl up in my bed of cloth and straw. I was staggering around the living room, barely dodging the guests who couldn't see me in the dark or from their height (of consumption). My systems were on the point of shutting down what I was suddenly whisked off my feet and found myself safely in your arms. You told me it was time to go back to bed, and I blinked once in agreement. Or I may have fallen right asleep. Either way, I closed my eyes and felt safe and I thank you for that feeling.
From then on, I've behind you 100%. Sure, I go to the bathroom all over the place, tend to bite everything in site, and bother both you and Julia while you're eating and sleeping, but give me a break, I'm a frickin' puppy. I know the existence of this letter may betray that statement, but you've got to remember I'm less that 100 days old and have yet to funny control the little voices in my head that tell me "go pee now!". It's nothing personal, I swear, I will get better. In due time, I will understand that biting and barking are not the right ways to get what I want and I promise the corners of beds, couches, and just about everything else will not always look like steaming plates of bife de lomo forever. I cannot, however, say the same about your shoes.
I like to think I make up for my imperfections with an over abundance of manufactured cuteness. That's right, "manufactured cuteness". Of course I can't help that my face is more adorable than the Olsen twins circa 1990, but beyond that, I've created this "cute" persona that brightens your day. Example A: you know how when I run or changing directions it looks as though I come from a long line of prancing deer or a bouncing bunnies because I'm buoyantly half running - half jumping? And you know how sometimes I'm doing it underneath the coffee table and bang my forehead on its edge? Yea, I'm doing that on purpose, even though it hurts, all because it elicits an "aw" from you. That's right, I alter my running motion, which often times leads to me smacking my forehead against hard wooden objects, just because you think it's adorable. I actually practice moving my front and back feet as pairs, not as individual parts, and in doing so run the risk of suffering multiple concussions and possibly permanent brain damage. happy Father's Day, I may not remember what day it is in 3 years, much less that I'm supposed to be celebrating something. Example B: when you pick me up and spin me around to bring us face-to-face and I start spitting out half barks which culminate in a gigantic yawn that always brings a smile to that big dumb face of yours, and usually an "aw", to boot. You think that's natural? Heck no. While you're at work all day I'm looking in the mirror practicing that look, perfecting that look, making it my Blue Steel meets Magnum meets the dumb but dreamy look that's always on Keanu Reaves's face, but better. Thank God Dan is always hanging out with his best friend Internet, or else he might expose me and ruin the trick. You eat that face up and I know it puts you in a good mood for at least three minutes. Furthermore, this example brings up something else I haven't even mentioned yet: you pick me up whenever you damn well please! I have no control over my own body! Do you know how annoying that is?! No, you wouldn't, because you're not a pint-sized puppy who has to succumb to your passing whim and allow myself to be lifted in the air so you can make you lick your nose or dance to whatever awful music is playing, even though I may have been on my way to do some quality ear scratching, or better yet, attack the kitty toy I inherited from Chimba. I grin my puppy-teeth and bear it because, well, you satisfy my passing whim to chase the broom while you sweep, encourage my couch-climbing endeavors, and let me sleep on your lap whenever I please. And I appreciate it.
I've heard in passing the what now seems to be "legend" of my conception: Ulises found my "real father" on the street, chased him for an hour because he resembled my mother, finally caught him, brought him to my mother, they lit some candles and put on a John Coltrane record, yada yada yada, a stork flew over Quilmes and dropped me off. I distinctly remember my mother, and miss her when I catch the remanents of her scent that remain on the cloth that pads my bed, but I never have, and imagine will never, meet my real father. For all I know he's still patrolling the same corner where Ulises found him however many months ago, but by now, he's irrelevant because I have you, and I have Julia, and Ulises, and Dan...oh yea, and Santiago, who all take care of me. I even had Brian for a little bit. I know it's not just you, however much you may claim/complain that it is, but one thing's for sure: if you weren't my father, I'd probably have written a much shorter, more direct letter than the rambling, aside-riddled essay I wrote instead. I guess it's something we have in common: we've got a lot to say (that's why I bark so much!).
So happy Father's Day to you and everyone else that has taken the spot of that flea-bag father of mine. I think I came out on top in the end, even if I have to manufacture my own cuteness from time to time. Hold on a second, is today Father's Day, or is it next week? S***, the f****** concussions have already started to take their toll, if I could remember half the things I've written I would take them back this instant. (Editors note: I have no idea where Manzi learned those words)
P.S. Don't be afraid to get some prints and frame these pictures!