Along the Parade
Route Adventures in House Sitting
I used to stare at the gorgeous houses on the St. Charles Avenue parade route, and think what I would give to live there— just for Carnival season.
Not no more.
I got to explain. My sister-in-law-law Gloriosa has a St. Charles Avenue friend named Bitsi who is going skiing in Switzerland with her husband during Carnival. But her pet-sitter suddenly cancelled.
Gloriosa says this is the opportunity of a lifetime for the Gunch family: a luxury spot for all the big Uptown parades. We just need a responsible family member to move into Bitsi’s mansion and take care of their pet. It’s not a snake or nothing like that. Just a puppy named Teddy—a something-doodle, a poodle mix of some kind.
Well, I guess I can handle a cutesy-doodle puppy.
So I volunteer for two weeks, up until Ash Wednesday. The rest of the Gunches can come in for the parades, and bring food and whatever else I need.
Bitsi says she will leave a little note about Teddy’s routine, plus the alarm code and keys to the gate and front door with Gloriosa. She says Teddy is in her little kennel in the master bedroom, where she sleeps.
Gloriosa tags along with me to open up. We unlock the gate and the front door, and pounce on the alarm —two-zero-zero-eight—and look around. White carpets everywhere. An expensive-looking Oriental rug in the living room. Weird art on the walls. All of a sudden I am nervous. What if I break something? What if somebody steals the art? Spills on the rug?
We go upstairs to Teddy’s kennel. It’s a big kennel for a puppy, covered in a sheet.
I reach under the sheet and open the door latch and SLAM! For a second, I think a bear is slobbering my face.
“Oh— I remember! It’s a St. Bernoodle,” says Gloriosa, leaping onto the bed.
Really? A mix of poodle-St.Bernard? Yes. They exist. For true.
I screech, “TEDDY, SIT!” He sits. He is a good dog.
The “little note” Bitsi left is four pages, typed. Evidently Bitsi is one of them people who drop “little” into random sentences, like other people say “uh.”
One cup of puppy chow for breakfast, lunch and din-din. Walk him immediately after each meal and take a little poopy bag. Sleep in the master bedroom by his kennel. Stuff like that.
I do it all.
Unfortunately, once the parades start, Teddy develops a taste for carnival beads, and he manages to scoff down a few dozen every walk. They don’t agree with his tummy, so he throws them up, and whatever else he ate, including a half a king cake he snarfed off the counter.
Naturally he chooses the Oriental rug for this.
I call the vet, and she recommends a Pepcid AC. That helps Teddy, but not the rug.
We get into a pattern. Every night, after he pukes up Carnival beads, Teddy takes his Pepcid AC, falls asleep with his head in my lap, and I slip him into his kennel, like you slip a sleeping baby into the crib. Except you carry the baby, not drag it.
Also, Teddy snores. And he passes gas in his sleep. I just as well be sleeping with a husband.
And I am worried about telling Bitsi what happened to her Oriental rug.
It ain’t the best Carnival season for me.
Ash Wednesday is a good day for confessing, so I tell Bitsi as soon as she walks in the door.
“Oh, we’ll just throw it out,” she says. “We’ve done that every other Carnival.”
Turns out they used to entertain their son and his college friends every year during Carnival, and they treated the rug the same as Teddy did (only it wasn’t Carnival beads they threw up.) Last year the boy graduated, but she’s used to buying a rug every year, anyway. She gets them at Walmart.
Me, from now on I will be happy on a tarp somewhere, with an ice chest, a ladder for the grandkids, and a public bathroom down the block.
Happy Mardi Gras.