I’M PRETTY SURE MY PARENTS ARE TO BLAME for my utter lack of respect for rules and authority. Growing up in a house full of doctors (and people who assume they are doctors by association), you get accustomed to sick notes getting you out of participating in anything annoying, ever. Not to mention all the fabulous drugs. In a strange way, this luxury shielded my innocent–albeit narcotized–eyes from the fact that you can’t always do whatever you want.
My husband, on the other hand, is the type of guy who uses his blinker every time he makes a left turn on a green arrow. He’s the only guy I know who has never returned anything already worn to Nordstrom’s. He plays by the book and obnoxiously expects me to do the same. That is, of course, when it doesn’t have to do with my dog, Mr. John W. Teets.
Teets is an 11-year-old, 9 lb poodle man who’s been in my life six years longer than Jason, which means he has seniority. He’s a regal little gentleman who drinks his water out of a glass, sleeps with his head propped on a Tempur-Pedic pillow, and only poops in ivy. So when someone tries to tell me that my dog doesn’t belong in a hospital to visit my sister’s newborn son, or at a Benihana birthday dinner held in his honor, I’m inclined to tell that person to suck a bag of dicks.
When I was single, Teets and I had our routine down pat. I’d look all doe-eyed and vulnerable while he’d don a ‘Service Animal’ vest and escort me straight to the pre-made sushi section of Whole Foods. Afterwards, we’d walk through the mall making fun of people with children, then catch an afternoon matinee at the Arc Light Cinerama Dome. When first introduced to this I-don’t-give-a-fuckedness level of behavior, my husband, Jason, was appalled. He insisted that if we were going to get married, I’d have to make a more concerted effort to not pretend to be blind, deaf, German, have seizures, low blood sugar, or schizophrenia just because I wanted to take my dog everywhere.
As a gesture of love I did something I rarely do. I compromised. I agreed to leave Teets at home with our two less privileged dogs on a more regular basis, and Jason agreed that when we left town, Teets would come with.
And that would be fine if I didn’t have a problem with buying Teets a plane ticket. Yeah, sure, it’s only a hundred bucks and probably a day’s worth of red tape, but I’d rather give Teets a three-hour blowjob than deal with anything involving me waiting in a line or filling out forms, ever. My plan for expediting this process was simple: Hide the dog in a bag and act like he’s not there. At airports, only the ticketing agent at the departure gate is responsible for checking in pets. And if they aren’t expecting them, they don’t ask. So seconds after being hand raped by security, Teets gets gingerly tucked into my carry-on. Then, after takeoff, he’s invited out onto my lap to have a sip of coffee creamer and possibly a delicious hot cashew or two.
With time, Jason became anesthetized to the dog ruse and tried to focus his OCD on other things, like turning off both our cell phones before takeoff and reading up on protocol in the event of an ocean landing. Things were pretty sweet. Until American Airlines, flight 56 from LAX to JFK.
Every Christmas, we fly back east to visit my husband’s family. This time we got cocky and decided to smuggle not one dog, but two. I think Jason was drunk when I got him to agree to this. But he kept his word, and Gina, our three-year-old, 5 lb little werewolf woman, was invited along for the ride. Unlike Teets, Gina is a pain in the ass. She doesn’t understand the dynamics of getting in a bag and shutting the fuck up. She thinks of herself as a pleasure to be around, a spreader of sunshine, and a sheer joy to come into contact with. To deprive even one person of her little lady lasso tail or her beady Fraggle eyes is, in her mind, an epic crime against humanity.
Unfortunately, we learned her feelings the hard way.
We boarded a red-eye bound for New York City around 10 pm on a Friday night. I carried Teets and Jason carried Gina. After takeoff, we reclined our seats, popped some Ambiens, and put the dogs under blankets on our laps. Before Natalie Portman even told Ashton Kutcher she wanted to be Friends with Benefits, I was unconscious. Roughly two hours later I felt a tap on my shoulder. I opened my eyes to see my husband looking at me, panic-stricken.
“Baby, do you have Gina?” he asked.
I looked down. Teets was snuggled across my legs.
“What? No. You have her,” I said, still groggy.
“Umm, no Jenny, I DON’T have her! Where the fuck is she?” he said, standing up and looking down the aisle.
Gina was missing! Like a werewolf ladysnake on a plane, this crazy little terrier bitch could be anywhere. Left with no choice, we rang the flight attendant buzzer.
“You’re talking!” Jason insisted as a Tammy-Faye-Baker-looking stewardess appeared out of the darkness.
“How can I help you?” she asked with her southern drawl.
I looked back at my husband. He was pretending to be asleep. I’d definitely have to pluck one of his ball hairs out later for this little stunt.
“Ma’am?” the flight attendant continued.
“Yes. Uh–I seem to have misplaced something,” I started.
Before I could finish, my rule-dork husband opened his eyes and started tattling on me like douchebag hall monitor with a fanny pack full of detention slips.
“My wife can’t find our dog. We snuck her on the plane and now she’s missing,” he said.
Teets popped his head out to see the commotion causing the flight attendant to jump in horror.
“Oh, not that dog. Another one,” I explained.
Jason looked at me, speechless. Within minutes, we were on our feet and armed with flashlights, moving from seat to seat, looking for our gremlin-at-large. Thirty-seven aisles later, there was still no sign of her.
At 2 am in the morning somewhere over East Bumblecock, Missouri, all of the lights on the plane went on. The pilot came on the loud speaker and gave a vivid description of the runaway canine. People were instructed to check their laps, look under the seat in front of them, and remain calm. The passengers were assured that the animal was non-aggressive, hypoallergenic, and that she answered to the name Gina Baby Lady.
“Found her!” a little boy called out over the announcement. Gina was raised up by the child’s mother and dangled above a window seat about 15 rows back. She had a piece of McDonald’s Happy Meal burger hanging from her mouth.
“That her?” Tammy Faye asked.
No, that’s a lycanthrope cruising the cabin for food, I thought.
“I’m seriously gonna kill you,” Jason whispered under his breath.
“Me? You were the one who was supposed to be watching her!” I grunted.
The stewardess retrieved Gina and handed her to Jason while the rest of the passengers stared at him like he was total fucking asshole. Then, as fate would have it, another traveler called out, “Hey is that Jason Biggs?”
Tammy Faye turned to Jason and gave him a once over. It was Jason Biggs! Oopsie. Assuming I was being issued divorce papers upon landing, I made one last attempt to improve the situation by doing what I do best… lying through my teeth. Throwing myself on the ground, I faked a series of convulsions. Jason stared at me in disbelief.
“Honey, I need my medication!” I screamed.
Desperate to get the attention off himself, Jason played along. He ran over to his carry-on, whipped out a pill bottle and slipped me a Zoloft. Having no concept of long it takes a person to stop seizing, I stood up instantly (probably before I even swallowed the pill). I whipped out Teets’ ‘Please don’t pet me I’m working vest,’ which was still stashed in his travel bag from years past, and waved it around like a white flag. I explained to Tammy that Gina wasn’t a stowaway but my trained medical aide.
“And who’s that?” she asked, pointing at the other four-legged mammal on my lap.
“Her assistant?” I said, stroking Teets’ concerned face.
The cabin’s hatred gradually turned to empathy and a request for a signed Jason Biggs cocktail napkin. I disembarked from the plane in a wheelchair with both dogs on my lap and barely a slap on the wrists. Once safely and on our way into the city, I knew what I had to do… I shot Gina.
Just kidding. I didn’t kill my dog. But I did make Jason a ‘promise’.
“Baby, if we ever travel with Gina again, we’ll do it the legal way,” I said.
Jason’s eyes immediately drifted over to Teets, like he was waiting for me to address the issue of our other covert companion.
I balked. “Why should Teets get punished for something Gina did?”
Once we were back in LA, our couples therapist helped us work out a compromise. I was super high on Xanax at the time so I can’t remember exactly how it goes, but I think it’s something like: I still skip out on the paperwork, but I don my own vest that reads ‘Ignore the dogs! I can get you Jason Biggs’ autograph!’
Jenny Mollen Biggs is an actress and writer living in Los Angeles with two poodle angel muffins and an asshole miniature pinscher. She also has a husband. Keep up with her at IMDB or on Twitter @jennyandteets.