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Becoming cognizant in your late twenties that your life is a romantic comedy is a harrowingly wonderful realization. On the one hand, America freaking loves the romcom. The protagonists are always beautiful, the best friends quirky and wisecracking, the parents sage, the apartments huge, the weather sunny, and the endings happy.
But what if the romantic comedy that I’m living is not a good romantic comedy? Like, what if my life is a Katherine Heigl-Ashton Kutcher B-movie? Sure, we would have incredible hair, but we’d probably have to shoot in Canada.
That’s the hardest part of living a romantic comedy. You don’t really know if you’re experiencing a Nora Ephron classic or, well, pretty much anything else. Once you meet the girl and do the whole falling in love thing, you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Especially when my dog Chloe, a 17-lb brindled Boston Terrier, played matchmaker.
That was almost four years ago—and certainly not the first time Chloe provided a key role in my social life. You see, when you’re an indolent 25-year old, you don’t really do anything—except drink cheap domestic beer (or cheap import, if your grandma sent a check recently). So, when you adopt a six-month old Boston Terrier because your friends’ schedules aren’t conducive to caring for a puppy, your life can very quickly change. No longer was I merely ‘Metz.’ No, now I was ‘Chloe’s Owner.’ I suddenly had dog park friends. DOG PARK FRIENDS.
And since puppies can’t walk themselves, you have to come home from work and walk them. Every day. Sometimes for hours. And, in doing so, you’re forced to enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze! The breathtaking Pacific views! Dangit, for once, I was indulging in the things that made my Santa Monica rent so astronomical—and it was all Chloe’s fault!
What was not Chloe’s doing however was the sudden uptick in girls. This is because it did not exist. In fact, I was negative one with females before I even officially took Chloe home. The girl I was dating at the time preferred I not adopt a dog. She said something about taking away from “us time". I wasn’t exactly sure what “us time” meant, but it sounded stupid and boring and the opposite of owning the most authoritative snoring and farting machine ever. She disagreed—and dumped me.
Owning a dog just wasn’t the babe magnet that people had promised (note: nobody promised this to me). But, as I would realize later, this happened for a reason. Good romantic comedies don’t start with the ruggedly handsome lead killing it with the females. How foolish could I be? You don’t just get to be on Starz at 4 a.m. for simply showing up! I needed to face some setbacks first, like the girl with a dog allergy, then Chloe freaking out as I made out with a girl, and finally, the girl who thought I liked Chloe more than her.
However, the clouds parted in the most unexpected of ways. Heading out of town for the weekend with friends, I found myself in dire need of a dog-sitter. With all the usuals unavailable and no one else willing to be responsible for watching a dog with a personality akin to a miniature Godzilla hopped up on a Costco-pack of Red Bull, my roommate Brian emailed his co-workers. Some lass named Lindsay volunteered. She had no prior dog experience whatsoever—but when the first sixteen people you ask turn you down, you get pretty desperate.
Oddly enough, Lindsay and I didn’t even meet that weekend. In fact, we did not rendezvous for the first time for another two months when I apparently introduced myself with a “meek” handshake.
Lindsay must have really liked Chloe though, because she foolishly gave a guy with a meek handshake a chance. As I’m sure she rationalized, hanging out with me meant hanging out with Chloe, a deal she was willing to make. My charm (my words, not hers) slowly permeated though as we started hanging out together. Walking Chloe at the beach. Taking hikes—in which Lindsay carried an exhausted Chloe on her back (note: she would not carry me, no matter how much I pleaded). Spending afternoons together every Sunday, we even watched her beloved Steelers and my 49ers together —with Chloe farting the whole way through, like any true football fan.
Soon Chloe hangouts turned into sans Chloe dates. Sure, at first we spent the whole time hypothesizing, “What do you think Chloe’s doing right now?” but they were legit dates and we started to really like each other. One L-word even evolved into the other L-word…
It almost wasn’t a happy ending though. Don Juan I wasn’t, and I had never told a girl that I loved her. Previously, when things got serious, I usually would freak out and hop on my rollerblades and glide away into the sunset (I literally broke up with someone this way in middle school). This was different though. This was a girl I DID love—but the three words sounded so foreign coming out of my mouth I simply could not get them out. Lindsay openly said it to me, yet I could not reciprocate.
This lack of love pronouncement coincided with atypical Chloe behavioral problems. Suddenly she was a menace at the dog park. She simply would not come back to me when it was time to go. I had to crazily chase her to leash her. For a very proud papa of a previously well-behaved dog, it drove me berserk. So much so that I stopped taking her to the dog park altogether. Lindsay protested. “Give me a try,” she said. I reluctantly agreed.
Chloe did come back to Lindsay that first (and every subsequent) dog park outing. As I watched Chloe obediently allow Lindsay to leash her, I could hear her yelling at me, You better tell this chick how you feel or you’re going to friggin’ blow it for us. The dog had to be right—when I adopted Chloe I wasn’t ready for commitment, yet when it came my way, it turned out to be the best decision of my life, so saying “I love you” had to be the second best. And while I didn’t blurt out “I love you” on the spot, it certainly flipped a switch in my woebegone noggin. A few weeks later, in bed, my face buried in my pillow, full of liquid courage after returning from our one-year anniversary dinner, I finally said the three magical words. Soon after and ever since, in typical romantic comedy fashion, the three of us have been inseparable.
This will sound crazy, yet I’m positive Chloe, in between licking herself and chewing a dirty tennis ball, knew what she was doing all along. Despite color blindness and no sense of humor, amongst other canine disabilities, Chloe knew there was something special about this gal. She knew a girl patient enough to provide me an entire year to pronounce my adoration was a winner. Now I’m living a romantic comedy life in which my Boston terrier introduced me to the love of my life. It’s a peculiar existence—and it’s all Chloe’s fault.