"Woof!" My dad uses the same word to describe women he finds both ugly and attractive -- only the inflection in his voice changes. For attractive women he rocks back in his recliner and clutches his chest, the wind knocked out of him, "Woof!" For ugly women he leans forward, shakes his head, wrinkles his brow and barks his disapproval, "Woof!"
His taste doesn't follow the classic definitions of symmetry, shapeliness, and grace. If Teri Hatcher slinks onto the screen he does his "ugly" woof.
"C'mon, Dad," I protest his choice of woofs. "If she walked into a bar downtown she'd be the best-looking woman in there. You'd be so intimidated you couldn't even speak to her."
"Nah, she's not my type." I know what he's going to say next. He's said it a thousand times in ten years. "Now, Lois from Channel 3 News, that's a hot woman."
Lois from the news is a faded beauty anchorwoman in her early 50s who wears a black turtleneck sweater and sports jacket. My father is certain that she's a covered cauldron, boiling over with passion and when she lets her hair out of its tight, librarian bun she's an insatiable love monster.
"Did I ever tell you about that time she was reporting on the snow level?" he asks.
"Yes, several dozen times in the last week alone," I answer. This doesn't stop him.
"They were reporting on weather conditions. One reporter says, 'Chains will not be required for the weekend,' and Lois says, 'Yeah, but whips will come in handy.' Boy, I tell you, she's naughty. She just needs a young buck like me to show her a good time." My dad is 58, with the dirty intentions of a 16-year-old.
"She's old," I say.
"She's younger than me." He has me there.
"She's married. That other anchor, that's her husband."
"She'd throw rocks at him after one night with me."
No amount of logic will ruin it for my dad. He flips the channel to 3 and waits for the news. He sips his beer and flicks his ashes into the overflowing tray on the end table next to his chair. When the shot pans to Lois, he leans back, takes a slow drag, and through the escaping smoke growls, "Woof!"
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
THURSDAY, APRIL 14
2004 World Juggling Federation Championships
ESPN 3, 11:30 a.m.
Ooh, I'm tingly with anticipation. This particular event is the hotly contested "ball competition." Looks like ESPN ran out of poker tournaments and car races to fill their 24-hour lineup of "sports." I can only bide my time until I'm crowned Bellybutton Lint Champion, as the network scrambles to fill time slots.
FRIDAY, APRIL 15
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
FX, 1:00 p.m.
I thought I saw the last Buffy the other day. When my roommates got home they asked me how my day had been, and I answered, "Horrible. Just horrible. I think I saw the last Buffy. I think she died." They asked me which episode it was and how she died. I told them and they replied, "Uh, no, dude. That's the second time she died. She comes back to life and..." I cut them off by holding my hands over my ears and yelling, "Mlah, mlah, mlah!"
The Beautician and the Beast (1997)
USA, 2:00 p.m.
I looked into the mirror. My oily hair had thinned out up front, and it sat pressed against my forehead. I didn't want to fight the heat of summer with a dark-brown coat of shag on my noggin. The clippers buzzed, and where they raked across my scalp only a hedgerow was left. Wisps wafted into the sink.
Saturday, April 16
100 Hottest Hotties
VH1, 5:00 p.m.
"Hottie" has taken the place of "Diva" as most abused word in the language. In protest, I'm forcing myself to work "haughty" into conversation at least twice per week. The stares of bewilderment tell me I'm on the right track.
Sunday, April 17
Walker, Texas Ranger
KUSI, 2:00 p.m.
I heard a radio interview with Chuck Norris. It was just sad. Norris still thought he was a badass and told the host that it would take less than eight seconds for Norris to kill him. Yep, Elvis was a black belt too.
Monday, April 18
COMEDY, 1:00 a.m.
In the first episode Skylar and four of his friends spent the better part of two days convincing a tony spa to give him a makeover and new wardrobe. They were on the phone with secretaries, coordinating a limousine, and one of them made fake studio passes. The whole time I was watching, all I could think was that they were working awfully hard so they didn't have to work.
ESPN2, 11:00 a.m.
Last week in jujitsu class my right index finger was broken. I have a futuristic blue-alloy splint on it. I call it my bionic finger of death, and I'm annoying the piss out of my friends by making whirring and clicking sounds like R2D2. When they ask me to stop, I hold my injured digit up and in a robot voice say, "THE BIONIC FINGER OF DEATH WILL NOT BE SILENCED."
Tuesday, April 19
KNSD, 9:30 p.m.
I stepped away from my cubicle for a needed bathroom break. When I got back I found that the Winamp MP3 player on my computer was set to random and that I had returned in time to catch the last half of "Dancing Queen" blaring from my headphones loud enough so that everyone in a ten-foot radius could hear. My e-mail inbox was jammed with subject headings like, "Who knew you were an ABBA fan?" and "Yes, you are the Dancing Queen! Aren't you?"
Wednesday, April 20
KFMB, 7:30 p.m.
I found the MP3 of Pat O'Brien leaving a drunken message on a woman's answering machine. You can imagine what it entails if you haven't heard it already. It's the sort of hilarious comedy one can only find funny if one has left or received the same painfully uncomfortable message. The sound of recognition from my own past blunders grates on the ears.
Thursday, April 21
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
MAX, 6:05 a.m.
The fountain of endless movie quotes. If anybody asks me why I name my truck "Lucille," I immediately break into a Southern accent and shout out, "My Lucille!...That's Lucille, you mother-head. Anything so innocent and built like that just gotta be named Lucille." Only a rare few have understood me. Story of my life.