Monday, September 18, 2006

Smells Like Chewie's Breath

We’re sitting in the car, traveling south on I-55 towards St. Louis listening to a CD entitled Smells Like Chewie’s Breath. It’s the latest compilation of my favorite songs, a downloaded combination of guilty listening pleasures. As I burned the CD the other night, I asked Chris to suggest a title and immediately he came back with “Smells Like Chewie’s Breath”.

Perfect, I thought. Even better than the title he suggested for my last CD – Hula Pie. Which topped the title for the CD before that, The Halo-Halo Mix-Mix. All of these phrases obvious inside jokes entwined closely into the closeness of a family. With that in mind, a little background might be apropos for ‘smells like Chewie’s breath’….

Chewie is the Waterstraat’s Yorkshire Terrier. Weighing in at 4 lbs. these days, Chewie is small, furry, and feisty. He’s terribly loyal, overly friendly with a welcomed compliance, and housebroken to boot. And his story is classic, vintage, legendary lore in the family.

It was about 2 ½ years ago, when Chris and I were moving from our ghetto Lisle apartment to our semi-upscale Lisle townhome. In other words, we were movin’ on up. Though we were only moving one mile east, we recruited a team of friends and family members to assist. Bob and Brenda brought a big truck, the other Chris brought his strong back, Cousin Amy simply blessed us with her adorable cuteness, and even Megan arrived in usual fashionable couture style.

As we packed and moved boxes, someone suggested a coffee break. Coffee? Did someone say ‘coffee’? Unable to resist the suggestion of coffee, I quickly offered to make a run to Caribou for coffee all around with Cousin Amy and Meg-Meg in tow.

After picking up a few coffees, Megan made a suggestion, “let’s go over to the pet store to look at the puppies.” A reasonable request, we visited the store to take a look at puppies because after all, who doesn’t love a puppy? Megan browsed the cages, oohing and ahhing at all of the little puppies cute in their cages yipping and chewing on little toys. Of all the puppies, one attracted her eye. To the clerk, she pointed and said ‘that one’, asking to have him brought out. They led us into a puppy playpen of sorts, with a swinging door and some benches. Soon later, arrived a tiny Yorkshire Terrier, with brown and black matted fur, small enough to fit nicely into Megan’s hands as she squealed in cute delight. Cousin Amy and I looked at each other and had a seat. This could take awhile.

“What should we name him,” Megan said, clutching and petting Chewie, taking pretend ownership of him before putting the money down. And Chewie wasn’t cheap, mind you.

“How about Chewie,” I suggested. After all, his face looked like a miniature version of Chewbacca, Wookie extraordinaire, a name only to be given to the most revered of sidekicks capable of providing Wookie-like companionship and loyalty.

Cousin Amy and Megan looked at Chewie’s face and quickly agreed. Indeed he did look like a Wookie. And he was christened Chewie.

Somehow, an hour later, Megan was at the register, credit card in one hand, leash in another and a small Yorkie crated on the counter.

Perhaps we were drugged, perhaps we lost time, perhaps it was all the coffee, or perhaps we just knew better than to tell Megan ‘no’, but we returned to our apartment and friends with no coffee but a crate full of dog.

They didn’t understand the connection, the chain of events. How did coffee turn into a puppy? Cousin Amy and I shrugged. How were we to know? At least we got coffee out of the whole deal.

And that is the story of Chewie and how he came to be. It was only a short while before Megan realized that Chicago is no place to raise a puppy and shipped Chewie off to the safety of the suburbs into the caring cradle of her parent’s home. A few years later, Chewie lives as a faithful canine friend with a penchant for people food and an inclination to hiding under the couch while wearing a tiny collar with rhinestone letters spelling Chewie across his neck in case there’s ever a mistake of his name, or the fact that he is a true diva. Just no one tell him that he’s a boy, ok?

Despite his diva-like ways and frequent baths, wipings, and grooming, word on the streets is that Chewie still has pretty bad breath. Back to the story of the title to my latest CD. We were celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago at a fancy Italian restaurant. A duck appetizer arrived on the table and my other sister-in-law, the meat-lover she is, speedily forked and dug in to the duck. After a quick sample, her face grimaced, her mouth balked as she shouted “Ugh, it tastes like Chewie’s breath.” Not sure how or why Meredith knew the flavor of Chewie’s breath (perhaps that is another blog?), it was something totally classic, totally spur of the moment honest, and totally Meredith.

Apparently, the moment stuck with Chris, because as I asked for a title he drew up ‘smells like Chewie’s breath’.

And that is the story of how a CD came to be named it’s name. Of course, Chewie is more than a bundle of bad breath, but the CD title is the perfect phrase of four words that speak volumes about a family and their pipsqueak pooch.

To Chewie!

PS - Thoughts on HalfMax National Championship coming tomorrow!



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