The Man is happy. The Woman is happy. That means Gatz is happy. He'd like to forget about the trouble he made to get them back together—only slightly ashamed at his antics—and focus on the future. The Woman and New Man are about to get married, after all. But when The Woman loses her job because of some bad press about the two of them, her confidence is broken and she can't help but feel resentful towards New Man when his own career stays intact. Gatz has to give it to him; New Man remains as patient as a saint (of course he does).
The Man is doing better, too, thanks to the New Woman in his life, who just so happens to be a writer as well. But two authors in the same relationship can sometimes be one too many, and they find themselves getting quite competitive with each other. But Gatz has faith in them—The Man did learn from his mistakes, didn't he?
Gatz doesn't know what happened to these two perfectly happy couples, but he knows one thing is for sure: not all families are alike, and happiness can be found in the unlikeliest pockets—just like treats!
About the Author
Jackie Logsted is a college student studying film, screenwriting, and American Studies, training to write and direct movies. She created The Sisters 8 series with her mother and father, and had a short story published in Ink Stains Vol. 7. She knows her cat would be jealous to find out she wrote a book about a dog, so she chooses not to tell him. At college, she runs into many dogs, and never condescendingly calls them "buddy."
Read an Excerpt
Flash forward to five months later
Red alert. RED ALERT! Douche move! DOUCHE MOVE!
I hurled myself at him and, with all the strength my little body possessed, knocked him to the floor.
He looked up at me, stunned, as I perched on his chest.
Yup. At some point down the road, someone is going to do something so douchey, I’m going to have to resort to that.
A famous Russian writer once said that “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Well, I don’t know what the Russian word is for “bollocks.” But since The Woman is English, I’m well versed in what the English word is, and it’s: bollocks.
Just as the Jane Austen line—“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”—is not universal at all and is only true of the specific world Austen created, the same is true of Leo Tolstoy’s dis on happy families. It is true in his world. But in the world, the one I inhabit, happy families are not all alike. Indeed, just like unhappy families, they are infinite in their variety.
I know this for a fact because I happen to come from a happy family; two, actually—the one I inhabit with The Man (who, OK, isn’t always a bundle of joy and occasionally suffers from depression, but we are happy together) and the one I inhabit with The Woman and New Man.
But just because it’s a happy world we’ve made for ourselves, it doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of giddily mindless twits. It doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of troubles, conflicts, and heartaches.
Yeah, about those . . .
But maybe I should back up for a minute. If this is the first time for a reader encountering me, that reader would be justified in asking: Who’s telling this story? Who’s quoting Tolstoy and Austen at the reader right off the bat?
The answer: me, Gatz. A dog. Black-and-white. Border collie. Lean at twenty-two pounds, but filled with love.
Now, here’s where some might begin to object: The dog is telling the story? To which I would point out that all good narratives require the willing suspension of disbelief. So I would heartily encourage all who enter here to just be willing and suspend.
Having introduced myself, I’m going to further take this opportunity to bring everyone up to speed.
Once upon a time, I was rescued from a shelter by The Man, a thirtysomething schlub with an apartment in Brooklyn and a career as a literary novelist. On the day he rescued me, while walking home, we encountered The Woman: British, Black, and Beautiful, making her a trifecta in the B department. She was an editor in the city. As far as I was concerned, it was love for all of us at first sight, and, indeed, love and cohabitation soon followed. That state of bliss lasted for a while, but over time their differences got the best of them—he’s an introvert; she’s an extrovert; they were oil-and-watering each other—and she moved out.
There ensued a period in which I did everything in my doggy power, including a suicidal run-in with a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates, to bring them back together. But all my efforts were to no avail once The Woman met New Man, a bestselling novelist and a dead ringer for Henry Golding. How could The Man, how could any man, compete with that? Not to mention, New Man was an extrovert too, who loved doing all the things The Man hated to do, so they had the stuff-in-common thing going for them as a couple too. Feh.
I wanted to hate the guy—for a long time I did hate the guy—and I certainly let him know it. But after a long journey of pushing him away and a failed reconciliation between The Man and The Woman, I had an epiphany, if you will: when you love someone, you should want what’s best for them, not what’s best for them in relation to you.
Cliché it may be, but I read the writing on the wall, and that writing told me that New Man was right for The Woman in ways that The Man never had been and never could be, not without at least one person winding up miserable. The Man and The Woman had come together over their shared love of me. The Woman and New Man, however? They fell in love with each other.
So, here’s where we left off the last time. It was August. The Woman and New Man had recently become engaged and were in the audience at an author event at the 92nd Street Y. On the panel were The Man and one other person, one of The Woman’s authors, whom I’d previously thought of simply that way. But a light bulb went on over my head when I noticed that the author, looking cute in her braids, was a female version of The Man, right down to her backward Mets baseball cap and her clear antipathy for anything social. Could this person actually be New Woman? Could these two find love in the same way The Woman and New Man had? Could there be romantic hope for The Man yet?
I think we’re all on the same page now.
Now that that’s been established, we can turn the page together . . .
Most people reckon the new year begins on January 1, but I favor September. Maybe it’s the school-year thing. Sure, I’ve never been to school myself, not even obedience school—why would I ever need such a thing?—but it is when all the kids traditionally go back. It’s also the month of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and while The Man is currently nonpracticing, I like to keep abreast of all the major holidays. You never know what could happen; you never know when things might suddenly change; you never know when good ol’ Gatz might be called upon to don a yarmulke. I bet I’d wear one with élan.
So, September: a time for new beginnings, a season of renewal, change in the air.
What better time for The Woman to finally move in with New Man?
By this point, they’d been engaged for several weeks already. And while some might wonder why they didn’t move in together immediately upon their engagement, I figured the delay had to do with deciding what to do about her own place, which her parents actually owned, or maybe she didn’t want to rush everything like she’d done when she first met The Man; you know, maybe she was doing the live-and-learn thing.
Anyway, Moving Day had arrived!
I confess to being a bit anxious about it myself. Not everyone realizes this, but moving from one domicile to another is a a top ten cause for anxiety when it comes to humans. And while I try to be as Zen as possible about most things, I had my concerns.
As anxiety-inducing as it can be to move in general, it’s got to be exponentially more so when you’re moving into someone else’s space. If the place is new for everyone, then it’s equally new for everyone. But if one of the people already lives there, it’s not equal: it’s their space! Similarly, if you’re the person whose space it already is, then when someone else moves into it—bringing along her dog, say—it wouldn’t be surprising if you experienced some sense of invasion, like: Hey, you’re in my space!
So yeah, I had my anxieties about it. And on some level, I must have assumed that they wouldn’t want me around on Moving Day, even though it occurred on the weekend, my normal time to be with The Woman, that and most holidays as per her joint-custody agreement with The Man. I figured that it might be a bit of a nuisance having a dog underfoot when you’re trying to figure out if the credenza should stay where it’s always been or if maybe it would work better against another wall.
New Man, however, was having none of it.
“Of course Gatz will be with us on Moving Day,” he said, flashing his beautiful, charming, sweet smile at The Woman when she suggested that maybe it would be more convenient if she and The Man flipped their days with me that week. “Who else is going to tell me where to put my credenza?”
This guy, man. He was growing on me by the second.
New Man lives in the penthouse of a high-rise—actually has a special key to use in the elevator—and it’s already decorated to perfection. With the exception of the mirrored bathroom floor— which I happen to like, but that I get others might find tacky— everything is perfectly appointed, every design decision exuding understated elegance. Because when you have a view like New Man’s, a floor-to-ceiling giant pane of glass spanning one entire wall and offering a view of the city that I doubt could be rivaled anywhere else in the city, you don’t need to gild the lily with a whole bunch of tacky gold this and tacky gold that.
Not that any of The Woman’s possessions are tacky. She herself is taste personified, which probably should’ve given me pause in her previous relationship with The Man, who is anything but. I guess it never had, though, until they broke up, because I happen to love the schlub myself, just as he is.
So, no, I hadn’t worried that her things would clash with New Man’s, but I had worried about the logistics of things. When she’d moved in with The Man, he’d first made space in the closet, made space in the bathroom, and, most important of all, made space on his bookshelves. The Man, though, wasn’t much of a nester. Except for his collection of books and a few select articles of clothing, he wasn’t married to any material objects. It didn’t matter. But all the items in New Man’s space were so well chosen, so well placed, how could he not object to our bringing along our own stuff and messing with his fêng shui?
The Woman and I took the elevator up to the penthouse apartment using her own new special key, The Woman carrying a box in her arms and me carrying some toys in my jaws. She grinned down at me and I looked up at her (my eyes glistening at her beauty, I’m sure).
“Are you ready, Gatz?” she asked me.
That was The Woman all over. She always thought of me. She always thought of us all.
I dropped my toys and barked my approval.
When we arrived, me trotting in more anxious still, it soon became apparent that New Man hadn’t done anything in advance of our coming.
Did he not know what day it was?
“I kept thinking I should be doing something,” he said, running a hand through his gloriously thick black hair. “I should be making room: clearing a shelf in the bookcase, adding a hook for your coffee mug next to mine even though I don’t hang my mugs on hooks, or moving all my clothes over to one side of the closet. But then I thought: Why do that?”
Because it’s the polite thing to do?
“That would be going about it all wrong.”
Would it be?
And may I add here that The Woman and I shared a perplexed look at this turn of events. Perhaps she too had been experiencing some advance anxiety over an anticipated transitional awkwardness?
“From the looks on your faces,” New Man said, “I can tell I’m expressing myself poorly.”
And he calls himself a writer. Ha!
“If I’d done that,” New Man said, trying again, “then you’d always feel—both you and Gatz—like ‘OK, then, this is my small space here, my small place in the closet, et cetera, within his much larger space.’ Do you see how wrong that would be?”
I was beginning to. From the growing curiosity in her eyes, I could tell The Woman was beginning to see it too.
“I want it all, everything here and every inch of it,” New Man said, spreading his arms wide, “to be our space—all three of ours, whenever Gatz is here.”
“Meaning. . .?” The Woman said.
“Put your stuff wherever you want it, move anything you want to move, get rid of anything you hate. Like, for example, the credenza. Gatz, what do you think? Is it right where it is? Should we move it, or even get rid of it entirely?”
I tilted my head to one side to better regard the piece of furniture in question. Eh, I had no quarrel with the credenza.