Jon Dawson: Finances force La Grange man to live in dog house
Vern Fleming shares this house with Hydrant, his English bulldog. Submitted photo
It’s an old cliche’ — “the husband is in the doghouse” — but a man in the Bucklesberry community of La Grange is not only rooming with man’s best friend, but loving it.
When Erin Fleming of Bucklesberry arrived home to a dining room filled with candlelight last Friday, she thought she’d walked into a Nicholas Sparks novel.
“But it wasn’t my birthday or wedding anniversary,” she said. “I figured my husband was trying to pre-apologize for something he’d done that I hadn’t found out about yet.”
Not only was Erin’s kitchen and dining room covered with candles, but so was every room of her house. Televisions and alarm clocks were unplugged, windows were covered with aluminum foil, and it appeared someone had done a load of laundry using leftover dishwater.
“The candles in the laundry room were a bit much,” she said. “The more candles I saw it looked less like a romantic evening and more like a vampire’s wake. I found an unwound wire clothes hanger with hot dog debris on it next to a candle in the kitchen.
“It's as if a Boy Scout troop had broken into the house to camp out."
When Erin tried to turn on the light in her bedroom closet, she was greeted with darkness. Attempts to turn on other lights throughout her home yielded the same result.
“I saw signs of electricity at other houses on our street,” Fleming said. “When I reached into the cupboard for a can of soup, I found the basket of light bulbs.”
What Erin walked in on was not a romantic evening, but rather the outer edges of her husband’s overreaction to a high utility bill.
“Even though it's gone down a bit in recent years, when I opened our latest electric bill I thought it was my tax return,” said Erin's husband, Vern. “After realizing it was the light bill, I immediately unscrewed every bulb in the house — even the one in the refrigerator.”
Even though removing the bulb from his refrigerator caused Vern to mistake a jar of horseradish for mayonnaise during his nightly 10 p.m. feeding, he has no regrets.
“Contrary to popular opinion, a banana and horseradish sandwich isn’t as horrifying as it sounds,” an ebullient Vern said. “After brushing my teeth for a few hours, everything was just fine.”
Vern also instituted other austerity measures, including limiting everyone in his family to 15-second showers.
“We have a 13-year-old who sweats like Mel Gibson at a Bar Mitzvah,” Erin said. “During the summer, he has to shower three times a day just to keep the buzzards out of the yard. If he's only allowed 15 seconds of showering, we won't able to light a match in the house.”
Neighbors noticed something was awry when they saw the glow of a smartphone emanating from the dog house in the Fleming’s back yard.
“Erin ran me out of the house, so I’ve been bunking with the dog,” Vern said. “I watch Netflix on my phone, and to appease the dog we’ve been watching old episodes of ‘Lassie’.”
While her husband adjusts to a more rustic setting, Erin is planning a yard sale to offset the cost of their utility bill.
“I’ll be selling a lot of my husband’s memorabilia,” Erin said. “Anyone in the market for a complete set of Burger King commemorative United States Bicentennial glasses should contact me."
When asked how it feels to be sharing sleeping quarters with the family dog, Vern was defiantly upbeat.
“It’s a little cramped in there, but our dog Hydrant snores less than my wife and the food is a little better than I'm accustomed to.”
Jon Dawson's humor columns are published weekly by NeuseNews.com. Contact Jon Dawson at email@example.com and www.jondawson.com.