When I was a kid, there was a woman who lived down the street who had a small white fluffy dog.
It wasn’t actually a street so much as a dirt road, but if I say, “there was a woman who lived down the dirt road,” it sounds all trashy.
When I was a kid, there was a woman who lived down the dirt road who had a small white fluffy dog.
Let’s call her Mrs. Johnson. I mean the woman, not the dog . . . I have no idea what the dog’s name was.
I am pretty sure that Mrs. Johnson is dead by now. And even if she is not, I am pretty sure that the intervening years have not made her smarter than I remember her being. Which means that while she is probably still able to plug in and work a toaster, she is unlikely to have internet service.
But just in case, I have given her an alias.
Because her children were horrid cruel little brats, and there may be internet service in whatever prison in which they are currently housed.
If you start seeing white-trash misspellings threatening to “sooo yur ass fer tawking shit abowt my mamma,” in the comment section, you’ll know what’s up.
Mrs. Johnson had a dog. A special dog. A dog that was going to make her a millionaire if she could just find a way to market the dog’s abilities properly.
Her dog was an asthma sucker.
I am so not kidding.
For a fee, Mrs. Johnson would lend you her small white fluffy dog. You would go to sleep at night with the dog beside you, and in the night? It would suck the asthma right out of you. All the wheezing and choking and coughing and misery? Sucked right out of you.
By a dog.
I was terrified of this dog. I envisioned the dog sneaking into my house and attaching itself to my mouth in the night. Like a white furry lamprey eel, with its gross sucker mouth sealed against mine, breathing for me and stealing my breath, all at once.
Plus? I never saw the dog walking around like a normal dog. Mrs. Johnson was always carrying it in her arms. She would walk up and down the dirt road on which we lived, stopping to talk to anyone who was sick (because the dog might also be useful in times of flu or pneumonia) and generally lording her miracle dog over the rest of us. Because all of our dogs were of the tied-up-in-the-backyard barking-their-fool-heads-off sort.
Some of the kids would go up to pet the asthma sucker, which Mrs. Johnson would allow if your hands were clean.
My hands were never clean, and I wouldn’t have petted that dog for a million dollars.
I thought it was creepy that she carried the dog everywhere. The regular dogs I knew did not need carrying. I assumed that she needed to carry her dog in order to restrain it. If she didn’t hold it back, it might leap up and suck the asthma out of people who hadn’t yet paid the asthma sucking fees. I tried to maintain a great distance between me and the dog at all times. I was terrified it would sense asthma that I didn’t even know I had and suddenly spring and seal to my face.
And then I would be running crazily down the dirt road with a small sucking white dog hanging determinedly from my mouth. Unable to scream. Unable to pull it off.
Can it get more white-trashy than believing that your fortune lies in the sucking ability of a small white dog?
And Mrs. Johnson had never had asthma. So how did she even know that her dog has these special sucking skills, anyway?
That part, I eventually figured out.
There was a lot of pornography in our house when I was a kid. LOTS. And our house on that nasty dirt road? It was tiny.
So porn was easy to find and easy to borrow in our house. I borrowed it all the time.
And that is where I found my answer.
I found this book. I am not going to try to find it for you and link to it here, although it was a fascinating read. I read this book about ten times.
It was about a bunch of friends who had rented a house for the summer. And one of the friends had brought his dog. This dog had special skills, let me tell you. Again and again and again, what started out as a lovely picnic or a BBQ or a swim in the lake would dissolve into . . . dog love.
And this dog? It had amazing sucking power.
Hmmmm . . . Had I perhaps misunderstood how the asthma sucking dog worked? Did it not attach to your face at all? The book offered no further clues. None of the women in the book seemed to be sick, but perhaps that was because they were so regularly being tended to by this magical caregiver dog.
There was no one to whom I could pose my questions without getting in HUGE trouble.
We moved soon after that. Not so far away, but far enough that I never saw Mrs. Johnson or her demonic sucking dog again. What a relief.
But today, all these many years later?
If I see you carrying a teeny dog in your arms or in a purse? Holding it close? Kissing it all smoochily and chucking it under the chin and calling it lovey names?
I am going to assume that you have got yourself an asthma sucker.
They’re quite popular.