Driving home to New York City after a glorious Easter Sunday in the Hamptons with everyone in the car exhausted.
Certainly my wonderful little puppy Shlomo was one little tired bundle of fluff.
It was a big day for him, capped by his stealing and eating an ear from a chocolate bunny, and my "accidentally" dropping a big chunk of leg of lamb that I was slicing as he was camped under my legs.
Earlier in the day, Shlomo fell madly in love with Daisy, my daughter Jodi's Labradoodle, who towers over him and outweighs him by 20 pounds. He chased her from room to room – chased her on the lawn with lust in his eyes. "It's spring," I thought, "and puppies, like humans, fall in love."
No matter what he tried, Daisy remained aloof and made it clear she had no interest in him. I watched and could relate to Shlomo. I had dates like that when I was a young pup.
At one point Shlomo had Daisy cornered for just a second, but try as he might, he couldn't climb up and make up for the disparity in size. The result looked like Danny DeVito trying to have sex with Rosie O'Donnell.
The sun came out early and the day was perfect. We had our annual Easter egg hunt, in which my granddaughter Annabel and about 20 of her little friends chased down and found over 200 colored eggs.
I truly believe no other Jew, other than Jesus, loves Easter as much as my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht. She had been shopping for weeks to find the perfect prizes that the children could win as a result of finding the most eggs, the least number of eggs, etc. etc.
It was wild. Think of 20 kids and one little dog, having eaten God knows how many jelly beans, marshmallow chicks and chocolate bunnies, having a sugar fit and jumping around in wild abandon, and you have an idea of what the scene around my house was like on Easter Sunday.
In the middle of it all I was cooking. I cooked a big fresh ham, the aforementioned leg of lamb, plus mushrooms, asparagus, and a glorious penne pasta with spring peas, shallots and bacon.
On the long, long ride home, I kept looking in the rear-view mirror at the back seat, where my marvelous pooch was nestled in Judy's arms, both of them sound asleep.
I remember when our son J.T. went off to college. Our dog Oreo died, and we were faced with our first true empty nest. "Should we get another dog?" Judy asked
"Absolutely," I answered. "In order to stay young, you must always have something annoying under your feet at all times."
When the kids grow up you have to switch to a puppy. You have to make sure the puppy behaves, and is housebroken, and you must walk it until at the end of the day he or she is exhausted.
In the end it's not that different than raising kids, except you don't have to help with homework or attend those boring, horrible parent-teacher conferences.
How much do we love Schlomo?
On the ride back, my daughter Jessie, age 25, suddenly started choking and coughing.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"I don't know," was her answer. "I'm having an allergy attack. Do you think I might be allergic to Shlomo?"
"That would be terrible," was my answer. "If it turns out you are allergic to Shlomo, I want to assure you that your mother and I would hate to do it, but Jessie, we promise to give you away to a nice loving family."
We rode in silence for the rest of the trip. I could tell by the half-smile on my daughter's face what she was thinking.
It's not easy having a wise-ass for a father.
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