Stop the ride. I want to get off.

If you ever want a heart attack, go to Vegas and ride the “Insanity” at the top of the Stratosphere Tower. Dangling 1,100 feet over nothing but certain death, you’ll be spun around so fast that the sound of your hysterical screaming won’t keep up with you. (Depends™ are highly recommended).

The fiction writer’s goal is to suspend disbelief. You don’t want the reader to say, “this is a load of crap” when he reads about how the hero fought off a grizzly using only a roll of toilet paper and some dental floss (mint flavored).

Lately, my life has been such a thrill ride that if I wrote it down, my readers would say “liar, liar, pants on fire.” Short version: divorce, marriage, injury, illness, and career meltdown. These things happen, but they usually don’t gang up on you like a Barry Manilow song you can’t get out of your head.

Strangely, I’ve been able to laugh off a lot of weirdness for my family and myself. Most distressing is a Great Dane who adopted me into his family three years ago. Maverick was 170 pounds of puppy-like joy, playing tug, pouncing on toys, and galloping around my back yard. In the last two weeks I’ve held my friend’s hand as she watched her beloved five year-old dog waste away, the victim of heart disease.

Not a day went by in the last two weeks, when we didn’t think Maverick might pass away during the night. He’s dropped 30 pounds in the last month, and is as weak as a kitten. I would deeply appreciate your prayers, as we try yet another heart medicine. I don’t know if I could bear to lose another four-footed family friend.

I don’t like roller coasters, but I’ll ride this one to the end, because true friends are worth the trip.

There’s a day for that

One of the things that makes America great is our collective ability to think of excuses for drinking beer and calling out sick from work. There’s always some whackadoodle out there who can come up with a national observance to honor rattlesnakes, marble tournaments, and taxidermists, or taxidermists who stuff rattlesnakes with marbles. Either way.

You have many opportunities for debauchery in June. If you’re feeling kind of cocky, the 19th is sauntering day. If you’ve never sauntered, swaggered, or sashayed, you might want to practice in a mirror first. If done poorly, it just looks like you need a bowel movement. I recommend that you avoid funerals and biker bars on saunter day, unless you want to be the object of scorn or are fond of having your skull dented by pool cues.

The 24th is take your pet to work day. If you have a pet cobra, alligator, or wolverine, your coworkers will not thank you for observing this holiday. For that boss that you don’t like, decorate his office with flank steak before arriving with your grizzly bear. Be sure to bring your dart gun. Your boss may need a tranquilizer when he sees the mess.

If you can’t boil water, mark your calendar for Kitchen Klutzes of America Day on June 13th. When you try your hand at fried chicken, remember that the fire department will not buy your story of creative cooking with Crisco. The emergency room personnel see a lot of fingers no longer attached to their bodies on this day. You may have to wait in line.

Finally, we have a holiday that I can get onboard with. June 18th is International Panic Day, when we invite all our brother and sisters overseas to join us in paranoia and anxiety. For women, this is marked by the beginning of bathing suit season. In the morning, we wake up to view ourselves sideways in the mirror, and realize that we made a fatal error on National Donut Day. While others are worrying about the war on terrorism, we run for the oatmeal, only to find that the cereal aisle is stocked with honey nut pork rinds and sugar frosted cookie dough. This is our special day to worry about carcinogens in our food, and the Northern Snakehead taking over our lakes and streams. Personally, I worry more about stepping in dog poop, or finding that I’ve had a booger hanging out of my nose for the last half hour. But that’s just me.

Be sure to save yourself for workaholics day in July, unless you are planning on calling in sick.