The full brood is back -- and the pecking order's clear

We're at that important juncture on a Sunday morning, where if we can get our dog, Cujo, to close his red-rimmed eyes, we might sneak in an extra hour of sleep. I just want to roll over and not have to think about how to pay for Christmas.

Fat chance. Cujo has other ideas. Cujo wants to go out again.

Cujo was up at 6:30, then again at 7:30. He can be an exuberant early riser, much like me. I often think I have more in common with this adopted dog than with my own biological children.

By the way, there are four of them living with us now. That's right, four kids. We are almost our own suburb. We spend more on eggs and bread than France.

"Are you guys done?" someone asked innocently at soccer the other day while we waited for the boys' team pictures.

Are we done? We were done 17 years ago. Now we've got this 5-year-old soccer junkie, his three older siblings and this dog Cujo, the insomniac with stomach problems, all living with us.

Cujo actually belongs to my lovely and patient older daughter, but he seems to have latched on to me. Mad dogs and Irishmen. The more I yell, the more he adores me.

Thing is, with parenthood, you are never really "done." We were at a wedding the other day and a friend complained that her son called to say he was nearly out of money at college, down to his last $200, which "wouldn't even cover his speeding ticket." When I heard of his plight, I choked up.

My friend quizzed her son on why he suddenly seemed to be going through money so fast. He explained that last year he didn't really eat, so college was cheaper then.

"Are you guys done?"

If we were any more "done," we'd be the Red Sox.

Having four kids under one roof is virtually a new experience for us. When we had our bonus baby five years ago, the lovely and patient older daughter was off at college. She came back occasionally, but we never had all four kids at home for extended periods.

It's a little like an orphanage now. The wood floors are wearing thin from all the foot traffic. We cook cheap foods in big caldrons, like witches.

"What was the 2008 Depression like?" their grandkids will ask one day.

"Well, the pre-finished flooring gave out."


"And we canceled the premium cable channels."

But it's really way worse. Their mother, who is a different kind of pretty every time I see her, suddenly looks a little like Carol Burnett. When we were married, people used to say she resembled actress Victoria Principal. That's what 26 years of marriage will do to you -- turn you into a comedic actress holding a mop.

Speaking of my wife, Posh, I always find a wedding is a great way to rekindle a marriage -- witnessing a dewy-eyed public declaration of never-ending love, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Well, we were at that wedding and the minister says, "Let us pray," at which point I place my hand on Posh's knee, you know, as a gesture of solidarity.

Does she grab it tenderly, like on a first date? No, she flicks my hand away, as if a pigeon landed on her.

"Cut it out," she hisses.

"What?" I say.

"You know," she says.

And she wonders why I never go to church.

"Want to dance?" I ask her later.

"In a million years," she says.

"I'll wait then," I tell her.

Well, I waited and waited, and now I am in bed with her the next morning, so something must've worked out. Cujo is sleeping on my legs, then begging to go out. His stomach noises resemble the hiss-pop of eggs fried too quickly.

Meanwhile, the little guy (Bongo) is at my side, complaining of aches and pains.

"Soccer?" I ask.

"Break dancing," he explains.

At the wedding, Bongo spends a good portion of the evening twisting and turning on the dance floor, like an alligator with a bad appendix. It is a small gesture on the little guy's part, his way of honoring the newlyweds.

It is his first wedding, and the take-away for him is that love should be celebrated in spectacular fashion in front of lots of people who drink as if they were just rescued after three months on Venus.

Indeed, the food at this wedding is lavish, the Champagne cold and flowing. All weddings should be California weddings, outside under God's chin.

At dusk, strings of pretty lights come on, and even the ordinary among us -- mainly me -- gain a certain glow. So you can imagine what Posh looks like, tormenting me with her movie star smile and that slap to the wrist. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. Maybe. No. No. No.

I'll get even. I'll marry her again. Right here, right now.

Where's that minister? Let us pray. . . .

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