The ‘Messy House’

The 'Messy House'
A little colonial on a narrow lot.

I suppose that I should stop calling it this, but as my wife and I searched for a new house, each got a nickname. For reasons that are all too obvious, it’s what I decided to call this one.

My first impressions upon entering this home, which was vacant:

  • This is small.
  • What the hell happened here?
  • What’s that smell?
Corner room
A corner room. Although in a small square home, all rooms are corner rooms.

It was obvious that the people who had been living here left in a hurry, possibly in the middle of the night.

It was difficult to see what this house might be because of the sheer amount of trash and debris throughout the house.

Not convinced? Check out this video.

Winston, 1992-2007

Winston. a dog of unknown origin.

Winston wasn’t a great dog, but he was the best dog.

Like many dogs, he destroyed many things as a young pup – couches, pillows, screen doors and carpeting.

He howled loudly when we were gone.

He hated being alone, and he let anyone who was within hearing distance know.

Although he eventually stopped destroying things, he never stopped howling when he was left alone.

Our pets don’t ask much from us. In fact, they don’t talk, so they don’t ask anything.

However, they will let us know if they want something – often with a push of their nose, a yip or a bark or a well-placed paw on your thigh.

People often tell me what their dog is thinking. I jokingly tell them, “That’s a pretty complex thought for a dog.”

We like to assign human emotions to many things, including our pets and other animals.

But who am I to say? Maybe dogs do have complex thoughts?

What was Winston “thinking” when I took his photo?

“I’m bored. Play with me.”

“Give me a treat.”

“If you don’t finish what you’re doing soon, I am going to walk away and pee on this bush.”

“If you leave, I’m going to howl! I’m not kidding!”

* * *

Winston had been gone for about six months.

When I came home at night, he always greeted me at the door, and I would bend over and pet him a bit and talk to him.

Now, there was just silence when I entered the house. It made me a little sad to not see his face and wagging tail after a long night at work.

When I walked past the spot in the dining room where he liked to lay, I sometimes would bend over and touch the spot for a moment.

One night, I went upstairs, got undressed and went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth. I turned off the water. The house was quiet. And then as clear as could be, I heard him pant.

At once, it was familiar. I looked into the hallway. Silence.

I smiled a little, turned off the rest of the lights and went to bed.

I’d like to think that Winston was letting me know that he was OK.

* * *

For the most part, our dogs are interested in a handful of things: Eat, go out, treats, play and attention.

The most important thing that we can do as “dog’s best friend” is try to make sure that they get equal doses of all of those things.

Try to be more like your dog and less like you.


Kirk to Enterprise: ‘You did what with the scripts?’

Star Trek: Friday's ChildBack in the 1960s, our family lived in California. Life was bright, fun and sunny.

Among our “neighbors” – probably about a mile away – was a family whose patriarch worked as a Hollywood make-up man. One of the shows he did work on was Star Trek. The original Star Trek: Kirk, McCoy, Uhura, Spock, Scotty, Sulu, and those unfortunate crewman who never survived beyond the first scene.

He wasn’t the main make-up man, because I never saw his name in the credits, but he had some association with the series.

When Star Trek ended after a few years, he gave my dad a box of things. To him, it was just another canceled series, and there were other shows and other movies that required his attention. It’s the way of Hollywood.

In the box were Spock’s ears and scripts. Many scripts. All of the scripts. All of the scripts from the original Star Trek series. All of the scripts from all three seasons of the original Star Trek series.

My dad used to wear Spock’s ears to Halloween parties. I remember seeing them in a thick plastic case near the kitchen. They were spongy. I think that I might have gotten them out once or twice and held them up to my ears.

Of all of the family members, I looked the most like Spock, by the way.

In 1969, we left California and moved to Pittsburgh.


I don’t know if Spock’s ears made the move. They might have been thrown away.

The scripts traveled with us, and made one more move when our family bought the house across the street. We moved to 605 from 606. Literally, across the street.

I remember going up to the third floor now and then and pulling a script from the box and reading part of it. Then it went back into the box.

For some reason, I took one script to my room in the basement, and it ended up in my little storage cabinet.


My brother and I graduated from high school in 1977 and promptly left for the Air Force, and I do mean promptly, as in 10 days after graduation.

I was honorably discharged in 1981, and restarted my life as a civilian. When I got back, my things were still in the basement.

One day, my other brother said, “What ever happened to all of those Star Trek scripts?”

And here’s where things took an unfortunate turn.

My mom hated disorder and clutter. About 10 days after we left for the Air Force, my mom went on a purging binge from the top of the attic to the bottom of the cellar floor.

You can see where this is heading. So, yes, among the things that she purged – put out for the trash – was the box of Star Trek scripts. It was only because of my carelessness four years earlier that one script survived.

By the way, I think my older brother wanted the scripts so that he could sell them. He was always scrounging for money, and to him the scripts equaled cash.

If I had them, I wouldn’t have told him about them, and I never disclosed the fact that one survived.

Here are the first three pages of the sole surviving script. Enjoy!


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