When I chose Burbank as my adopted home town a dozen years ago, I had no idea that every part of my life would be in motion, with the loose ends intersecting in all the dusty corners of my previous existence in the City of Fallen Angels.
I’d been an apartment dweller nearly all of my life, forced to follow the landlord’s rules. No pets, No late-night parties, no picking up the green shag carpets to install hardwood floors. But now, the time had come to seek a foundation for pursuing the American dream,1...a house of my own 2. pets, 3. marriage. Number 3 resulted from numbers one and two, but hardly in the usual way. I’m married today because of a misbehaving puppy and a rude talk radio host.
It took a trip to the Castaway restaurant to bring my universe into alignment,. You see, right after moving in to our lovely little craftsman home on Chandler, We got a puppy. (first time homeowners, don’t do this: wait a year after closing escrow BEFORE getting a dog). Phantom today is the love of our lives, 13 years old , a 120 pound Shepherd/Akita mix with severe arthritis, but he still gets around and goes to the dog park at least once a week. It’s hard to remember him as the terror he was as a baby. Phantom flunked obedience school. Twice. He was chewing everything he could sink his canines into. A one dog weapon of mass destruction.
After a week of “please honeys”,I convinced my wife to call a pet show on the radio. Friends had told us about crate training and how much it helps a puppy claim his own space and stay out of your face. we needed professional advice, but I didn’t want to call the show myself because I worked at a competing radio station. I had no idea the pet guy would accuse BJ of being an animal abuser.
“How dare you put your dog in a crate? You are your dog’s jailer! YOU are the problem, not your dog!” That was one of his NICER statements.
Now I was facing three dilemmas at once: How can I avoid being banished to sleeping on the couch for seven dog years? How will I ever get this woman to marry me now? And, what do I do about Phantom?. I had learned from years of reporter deadline pressure that quick thinking often produces the best solutions, even if the solutions seem silly at the time.
So, here was the plan: Keep the crate but get Phantom to enjoy his time in there (Kong dog toys and Peter Pan Peanut Butter made a fortune off me at the time) and take advantage of BJ’s anger to create a road map to a proposal. Break up to make up, or something like that which I barely recall in an old song.
“Honey, Let me make this up to you by taking you out to a nice dinner”. We sat in one of those lovely booths at the Castaway overlooking the Burbank lowlands. Out came the diamond ring, and those words, “Will you marry me? She said yes. We got married at Napili Beach in Maui, but not THAT night. We wanted to go home right away and show Phantom the ring, but we never got around to it. He had pooped on the rug.