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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Tuesday
May292007

The Human Whisperer

I'm stealing some of my stories back from Dig & Scratch, the New York newspaper I wrote for. I may as well consolidate my mass of internet ramblings. I'd hate to lose some of the stuff I wrote about Max if Dig & Scratch ever disappears..

The following was written in December of '06.. when THE MARITAL TROUBLE began rearing its ugly head.


“Screw you!”
“Screw YOU!”
“BARK! BARK!”

The Surge and I were engaged in yet another battle for… a battle for - um… I forget. There was talk about who didn’t want to go into the city to look at the Christmas window displays on Fifth Avenue.
“You said you didn’t want to go first!”
“Oh. My. God. You’re the one who was acting like it was a big chore to schlep into the city! I was just following your lead!”

Before the intensely complex dilemma of who wanted to go to Fifth Avenue it was something else. Probably money related. “You never take responsibility for the bills, you leave it all to me!”
“Last month you told me to let you handle it!”
“I was being sarcastic!”
“Sorry I’m not a mind-reader!”

You know how it goes, I hope. Or else I am more dysfunctional than I originally suspected, which could very well be the case. In fact, that’s probably the case but I can’t be sure. What I am sure about is that Rocky Road ain’t just an ice cream flavor, it’s a state of marriage. This marriage thing is hard, yo! The constant negotiating, jockeying for position in the frenzied race to I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong!

Because I can regularly hear the upstairs neighbors going at it, I’m certain they can hear us going at it. Although their version of going at it involves sex. Ours involves raised voices and slamming doors. We’d have had the cops called on us by now if it weren’t for one thing. Max. He senses the tone in our voice and the moment the sound rises above a certain decibel, he issues a warning bark. You know, kind of like a lifeguard whistle to let us know we’re treading dangerously close to the deep end. Of course the fighting stops so we can placate the dog.
“Everything’s cool, Max. S’all right, buddy.”

But, like a CD on repeat, the fighting starts up again.
“You’re the one that…”
“Bullshit! Don’t you remember last year when you…”
“Puh-leeez. Let’s drag that out AGAIN….”
“Screw you!”
“SCREW YOU!”
“BARK! BARK! BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!” He gives us this raised eyebrow look. Like, again with you two and fighting? Do I need to separate you?

We are forced, by the power of not wanting to piss off the neighbors with a barking dog, to take stock of the situation. We realize that we were probably yelling louder than Max was barking anyway and then we have to converse like reasonable adults. Which is really a bummer when you can hurl expletives more skillfully than a gold medal winning Olympian javelin thrower. Passive-agressive-asshole just doesn’t have the same zing when whispered.

The dog? He’s a miracle dog. He’s The Dog Whisperer in reverse. The Human Whisperer. Max should be dispatched to the homes of dysfunctional couples to solve problems. Not only does he stop fights, he continuously issues unconditional love, forcing shame upon The Surge and I for engaging in such petty arguments in the first place. When you’re in the middle of slamming home a point about what how your husband apparently thinks the toilet and bathtub clean themselves for all the effort he makes and you’ll be damned if you’re going to pull out the wet clump of hair he left in the drain AGAIN, when you’re engaged in a spectacular diatribe masterfully accentuated with finger-pointing, eye-rolling and mocking and then your 80 pound dog crawls into your lap, licks your face and nuzzles your neck... Well, it’s kind of hard to issue tummy-rubbins and curse words at the same time.