I have a theory.
It’s more correct for me to say that my wife had the theory. All fairness, she thought it first, all I did was flesh it out. But it’s brilliant, and it fits, and it has changed the way I think about my life in the past twelve hours.
The theory is this: Our house — more specifically perhaps, our household — is a closed system of stupidity. There is a constant amount of stupidity contained within the space inhabited by my wife and I and our son and our animals, and that amount of stupidity cannot be altered by the comings or goings of any of us in or out of the house.
Let’s review the relevant data.
Jasper was our dumbest dog. Our dumbest critter, really, but “dumb dog” has a lovely alliteration to it that I can’t stay away from, so there you have it. He’d run into the glass door. He’d go into a yip-dog frenzy when the mailman or other interlopers approached the house, or in fact drove past the house. He’d follow at our feet, pardon the expression, like a lost puppy, any time we had any sort of food, in the hopes that we’d take pity and give him a bit, knowing full well that we wouldn’t. He would jump up and down like he was spring-loaded on any new visitor to the house despite our multiple attempts to divest him of this behavior. He’d follow the sprout around and take food from his hand even though we would fly into a murderous rage when he did so.
A sweet dog, make no mistake – but dumb as bricks. Well, Jasper couldn’t stay with us. Without getting into too much detail, he and the sprout were not a good match, so my family generously adopted him. So he left us. (We still see him on the weekends and he’s doing awesome.)
Now, it’s not a thought that we had consciously at the time, but in retrospect we kind of took it for granted that with Jasper leaving, the incidences of, ah, stupid behavior would lessen. But the Stupidity Constant began quickly to stabilize the closed system without us even knowing.
Little by little, our other animals began acting dumber. Penny, our other dog, for example, has begun pushing her food bowl all over the place and spilling food everywhere. She’s always been a little skittish during storms. Lately, though, she goes into fits during storms, trying to squeeze into tiny cubbies and knocking over furniture, chewing on shoes and baby toys, shaking like she’s stuck in that paint mixing machine at the Home Depot. Now, she’s never liked storms, but since Jasper is gone, she descends into idiocy and terror whenever it begins to rain. She barks and howls when strangers come to the house. She runs under our feet tirelessly; my wife and I have tripped over her more times than we can count.
Okay, so maybe she’s upset over the absence of her “brother”, which I’d buy, if it had not been six months. But she’s getting worse, not better.
Then, there are the cats. The Alpha (yes, cats have Alphas, I know, I thought it was insane when I heard it, but trust me, this cat is an Alpha), Marty, has always been a bit, hmm, special. But lately he, too, has been dumber, for lack of a more eloquent term. His most egregious ridiculous behavior is one I can find no explanation for. He’ll splash in the water bowl, trying to tip it over, leaving sad little stupid pools of water all over our brand new $2000 floors. Why does he do this? TO INFURIATE US. He’s also more guilty than ever of running under our feet, especially on the stairs.
Thing is, the stupidity rotates. When Penny is low-key, the cats are all keyed up. When the cats are chilled, Penny starts chewing on the baseboards. No, really, she’s chewed up baseboards.
Anyway, we were talking about it this morning while cleaning up the latest slurry of puppy chow (spilled by the dog) and water (spilled by the cat) and I tripped over a different cat while coming back through the living room and my dear wife said, “god, I swear, the other animals are getting dumber.”
And it clicked.
“Like the house is a closed system of stupidity?” I said. She nodded. “Meaning that there is a fixed amount of stupidity that has to exist in the house at any given time?”
“Exactly,” she said.
“In other words,” I said, feeling brilliant and self-important, “as Jeff Goldblum so eloquently put it in Jurassic Park, the stupid will find a way?”
Both our eyes got wide as the truth broke over us like my brother breaking wind: sudden, inescapable, undeniable. Oh, and simultaneously impressive and terrible. Our household is a time-space anomaly, a Grand Central Station of idiotic animal behavior.
I have suspicions that a similar anomalous field exists in a bubble of about a hundred feet around my person, but one theory at a time.