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I know how you can be happy without your usual vain efforts to boost your spirits with Prozac and chocolate chip cookies…
1. Adopt a Dog: Hurry to the nearest humane society and adopt a medium-sized, non-barking mutt. You’re going to want to post a lot of photos of your dog on Facebook (or, if you’re a certain dog lover who shall remain nameless, on Ricochet), so don’t get a black one. They don’t show up well in photos. A mutt with its shots, an embedded ID microchip, and a city license will set you back about $200.
Dogs soothe one’s soul. In fact, petting and playing with a dog increases the level of oxytocin (the calming chemical) in your brain and dopamine in the dog’s brain. I laugh at my dog Bob (photo to the right) at least 15 times a day.
Even if you’re a lout who no one likes, your mutt will love you more than he loves himself. When you return from an errand, your dog will greet you at the door with paroxysms of joy. When we first got Bob, still not much more than a pup, he would get so excited when we returned that he would pee a little. He can now hold it in, but he still greets us with squeaks, leaps, and circles.
Your daily walk with your dog will keep you in shape and help you make friends with your neighbors. Dog walkers love to greet one another to talk about their dogs. In the evenings, you and your dog can curl up and watch television. With a good dog and a good spouse, you’re finally sitting in the catbird seat.
God never made a better creature than a dog. You need one.
2. Buy a Hot Tub: It will soothe your sore muscles after a hard day’s work. Even better, in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep, you can go out and soak in the 102-degree water. Now you can go back to bed and sleep like a baby.
But the best thing about hot tubs is this: As you and your spouse luxuriate in the hot water — sans vêtements, of course — your bonds will grow deeper while you talk away your problems.
You’re going to be tempted to play footsie in your hot tub —but you ought to resist going above one another’s little piggies onto ankles and beyond. You’re here to talk and relax, after all. Of course, while you talk, if your big toe wanders over and gently massages your partner’s little piggies, I think your partner will appreciate that. Anyone would.
3. Guys Only: Marry a Sturdy Farm Girl Who Can Milk a Cow.
Here’s how to make sure you get a good farm girl: Check her hands. They should be calloused and muscular. Here’s me and my farm girl on our wedding day in 1962.
Here’s why her ability to milk a cow is important: If she can soothe an occasional agitated cow in order to milk it, she can soothe your troubled soul. Besides, her strong hands mean she’ll be able to open up her own pickle jars.
4. Ladies Only: Marry an Ugly Guy. He will be appreciative and less likely to stray. Also, before marriage, pay less attention to how your boyfriend treats you than how he treats others, because that’s how he’ll treat you a year after you’re married. And for heaven’s sake, don’t smash the wedding cake in his face at the reception as a sign of your devilish good humor. It’s merely a sign of your boorishness. Keep that part of your personality hidden, for a while at least.
If you follow my advice, you’ll be as happy as a dog with two tails.
Postscript: I dropped by Powell’s Book Store yesterday in downtown Portland. When I started to walk into the men’s restroom, I noticed this ominous sign on the door: “USE THE RESTROOM YOU FEEL MOST COMFORTABLE IN.”
When I entered, there was a female, I think, drying her hands on the blower. Damned if I was going to use the urinal with a female standing a few feet away, so I tried to wait her out. Unhappily, those darned blowers take forever to dry a person’s hands. So there I was, standing in the middle of the room, an old man whose bladder was crying out for attention, while some pushy female-like person was taking her time drying her hands on the blower. This modern age can go to hell.