A Dog Really Ate My Homework

For some reason that an astrology chart could likely explain, the last weekend of October in 1995 proved especially momentous for me. It was homecoming at the tiny Midwestern college I attended. My return to the school after summer off had been less than welcoming – I’d been ousted from an editorial gig on the student paper that had comprised my entire social life the year before, the boyfriend that had taken a coward’s breakup with me had spread quite a few rumors about the nature of our breakup angled to make him look blame free when I refused to do things that had high odds of getting me pregnant, and the semester before a friend leveraged my crush on him to drag me into a political situation that cost me dearly – a legacy that was playing out while he remained oblivious, completely unable to process that consequences for a female non-athlete were significantly more dire than those for a male athlete on any college campus. It was also parents’ weekend, and my parents were NOT interested in spending time with me, opting for some bus trip to West Virginia instead when it became clear I wasn’t going to drop out of school because they said so.

Yep, that's Norman Rockwell
Yep, that’s Norman Rockwell

The result was that, on that October weekend, what friends I had were off with their parents or entangled in festivities. I had no car and no means of escape, so I decided to work on a fairly complex project for a mass communications class, one where the professor had insisted on assigning us partners, I suspect out of some patriarchal urge to keep the women in the class from working with the men in the class, all of whom had piercings that made him suspicious. My partner, a very sweet Japanese woman, offered zero ideas on the project; it left me feeling like I had to carry the burden of the work myself. In retrospect, this was most likely an intercultural failing on my part – but ultimately I still prefer to blame the professor’s patronizing micromanagement. Plus, I wanted to work with the guy with the neck piercing. He was hot.

Meanwhile, the friend that had persuaded me to enter political hot water with him the previous semester had a football game that day. Per his family’s tradition, all the ones that could came to cheer him on – including his dog, Tiberius. I’d met Tiberius, a sweet, golden dog that always ran to greet me, tail thumping –  along with anyone else with a recognizable weakness for canines. On game days he had the run of the dorm, and he generally stayed on the first floor, while his family hung out with my friend in the room directly below mine.

The day was unseasonably warm for October, and I had just made a complicated storyboard that involved large amounts of glue. I propped open my door  and window, unusual moves for me thanks to an unexpressed but nonetheless abject fear of most social connection, especially since my immediate neighbors across and next to me were especially toxic. I turned my back for a second to look at my class syllabus and I heard paper tearing behind me. I turned around to see Tiberius, wagging his tail and chowing down on my mass communications project.

That was $15 of art supplies and ten hours of work blown all to hell.

It also forced me to give up on working for the weekend, and with my main focus completely ripped out of my grip, I decided to go hang out at the student pub, watch a comedy act, and when I ran into my friend’s family, I told them about the incident with their dog. Yes, I was mad, but I didn’t blame Tiberius. They stopped bringing the dog around after that, which made me sad. I liked Tiberius. Dogs were safer than people. Fortunately my professor actually believed me when I told him my friend’s dog ate my homework because I was and still am the Person that Those Things Really Happen To and he had already witnessed and heard hearsay of enough ridiculous shit attached to me that he didn’t question me when I asked for an extension.

This also put me in a position to talk to people. It put me in a position to answer my phone, and accept an invite to a Weird Al concert. It put me in a position to ask my yearbook editor (yes, this college had a yearbook, sadly enough) to let me off the hook for photographing a homecoming dance type thing that night. Having nothing else I could do, I got a tarot reading. The tarot reading, given by a friend’s mom, revealed exactly how spiritual my life was about to become, along with all the suppressed love and talent I was haunting myself with. It told me I’d meet a man who was wrong for me that weekend – which I did. The reader also told me that the friend with the dog was “very much in love with me,” (I hadn’t mentioned him, the dog, or the ill-conceived political dabbling to her) and I had her set that one aside since there was no way, especially not at that time.

I never got a chance to do a follow up reading with her, even though she very much wanted to see what was going to happen next with me. Even so – a friend’s dog ate my homework, which got me to leave my dorm room, which got me to have a tarot reading, which got me to open up to new people, which got me to a heartbreaking relationship that changed me for the better and got me out of that tiny school, which got me to start my witchcraft practice in earnest.

My only two regrets are the dog, and leaving his owner behind. They both meant more to me than they know, certainly more than I had the capacity to express at that time.