It had been one of those weeks. You know the kind—all business—no time to nap after breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was sleep deprived and my garden hadn’t been tended to in days. I almost thought about calling Jose the Gardener to touch up the roses. Thankfully, even in my stupor I realized that that was a bad idea but it speaks to just how intense the last seven days had been.
Truth is, my boss had given me some extra work. He had a big story in mind and wanted me to do my research. In this case, preparation meant watching all 250 John Wayne westerns and, when I was finished with those, taking detailed notes on all four Rambo films. He told me that when I finished that, I should probably make sure my Bruce Lee knowledge was current. At the time, I saw little correlation between the three assignments unless I was supposed to guess who would win in a fight. Of course, as you know, that would depend entirely on a host of variables. If the combat took place on horseback, for example, it’s probably safe to say Lee would lose. In a hand-to-hand bout, however, barring the unlikely event that Wayne landed a lucky punch, he’d be the first to go which would leave John J. and Bruce to sort it out. Assuming no knives were allowed, that match would probably go to Bruce. But, hypothetically, if the three happened to meet in a jungle for a no holds barred death gauntlet, I think we can all agree that Rambo would draw first and last blood.
Anyway, halfway through the Rambo marathon my eyes began to get heavy and I was beginning to think this assignment was going to be too much for me to handle. Perhaps my boss should have chosen Charlie the Chihuahua for the job. Sometimes Charlie goes weeks without sleeping and somehow still has more energy than the rest of us. I was in the middle of a constructing a fairly convincing pro-Charlie argument when my boss called. I picked up ready to make my case. “Your flight leaves for Austin tonight. I hope you’ve finished your homework. “ He hung up, I gulped. I still hadn’t finished Rambo III! Not to mention I’d done little in the way of brushing up on Mr. Lee’s impressive contribution to cinema.
I pressed pause on the remote and slid off the sofa I’m not allowed to be on. My mom was in the kitchen making dinner when I waddled in to explain the situation. I could tell she was worried about my lack of sleep. She took one look at the bags under my eyes and insisted I take a nap while she pack my work duffle. I didn’t have it in me to argue. “Don’t forget my notepad, some sharpened pencils, my Stetson hat, red cowboy boots, my Martial Arts For Dummies book and sunscreen. Thankssszzzzzz.” I was out.
Four short hours later my mom woke me up and said my duffle was in the car and she’d packed me a peanut butter and peanut butter sandwich for the flight. Sometimes moms are great. I blinked my eyes open, brushed my teeth and headed out the door where my Uber was waiting for me. The rest of getting to Austin, Texas was a blur. I felt like I was sleepwalking in an old western film where Rambo saves the day. It was rough.
When I landed I caught a cab and headed for Zilker Park. It wasn’t until we were halfway there that it dawned on me I had no clue who or what I was about to encounter. I texted my boss for some interview notes. He responded a few minutes later telling me I was meeting some brothers who go by @babygrl221_bruce, but their real names are Bruce and Rambo. He added, “I’ll know them when I see them.”
As the driver pulled up to the park I put on my cowboy hat to blend in and looked down at my watch, it was 1:15pm and I had fifteen minutes to find them in a 351 acre park. I tipped the cabbie and headed for the grass. No sooner had I done so than a speeding bullet of a pup came racing full tilt right for me. I braced myself as he tried to tackle me. Who the woof?!? Then, about four yards away, I spotted a handsome fella sauntering my way. I quickly gathered that the brothers had found me.
Bogie: Bruce, my man, it’s crazy to be sitting here in real time with you and your little bro with a big name. You wouldn’t believe how surprised I am to meet you guys but I’ve been doing my homework all week. I’m relieved to say you are both not exactly what I expected! But before we go there, tell me a little bit about yourselves.
Bruce: Well Bogart buddy, I’m going to be 8 years old on Christmas Eve, so that makes me a Christmas baby. My original name was Rudy, short for Rudolph. Get it? Thank gosh mom and dad changed it. I’m as light as a feather and only weigh 77lbs. Abby was really my Auntie, her sister Beatrice is my mom. Mom and dad got me to keep Abby company, but it backfired because from day one Abby wanted nothing to do with me. However in the end I knew she loved me.
Bogie: Oh Abby, rest her sweet angel soul. She was like the grumpy older sister/aunt I never had but always wanted. Dude, Bruce we have the same birthday!! I’m a Christmas Eve guy myself. Rambo! Hey, up here, my name is Bogart T. Bulldog and I need you to sit still for about thirty-five seconds while I ask you some questions. Let’s start with why you’re named after a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who is skilled in many aspects of survival, weaponry, hand-to-hand combat and guerrilla warfare. And how old are you?
Rambo: Nice to meet you Bogart T. Bulldog, I am 11 weeks old and weigh a whopping 13lbs. Mom and Dad originally picked my name to be Alexander, but for some reason they didn’t think it suited me. Then my dad wanted to name me Butkus. Yikes! That’s when we turned to our Instagram family and had a naming contest. Rambo seemed to fit perfectly in many ways. I mean, look at me! In addition I’ve had to have a few surgeries in just the short time I’ve been around (belly button hernia, and I have really small nostrils so the docs had to open them up so I could breathe properly). I think that’s why my first owners didn’t want me. So mom says that makes me tough like Rambo!
Bogie: What?! Talk about a tragic loss on your first family’s part. But their poor decision was the best thing that ever happened to you little big buddy!! Bruce I gotta say your little bro isn’t so bad after all—you know how they can be sometimes. Did you start training him immediately upon arrival? And if you were to sum up your training regime into a cliff notes version, what would it look like?
Bogie: Oh, I know what you mean Big B! Hey Little R, listen up. You’re cute, you’ve got that majorly going for you. What would you say your biggest asset is and where do you see yourself in the next three years?
Rambo: Well I think I will always be cute, and in the next three years I hope to be as good of a sockball tosser as Bruce.
Bogie: Those are some lofty ambitions Rambo, but if anybully is up to the challenge, it’s you. Brucey, your bro is growing on me by the minute, but he’s still a little guy who is just learning the ropes of life in the real world. What’s your favorite thing about him and what drives you absolutely nuts?
Bruce: My favorite thing is I have a little buddy to play with. After Abby passed I didn’t play, eat or drink—I lost ten pounds. My new little brother has brought so much life back into our house none of us realized how much we all needed Rambo! However, he’s still a little brother and they all can be a little aggravating at times. The thing that annoys the heck out of me is how much energy he has… he’s like the energizer bully and assumes I should have the same amount of energy. For the record: I don’t.
Bogie: Brucey, that is just the sweetest news. I had no idea how broken you were after Angel Abby’s passing. This news makes me so happy for you and your family!! Rambo, you’re in good paws with Bruce as your big brother. I’m sure you know that. But as a pup you do have an upper paw advantage in working your cuteness for some #humantraining101. What’s your number one training tactic you’ve used on your mom and dad? Perhaps one that Bruce is too old to use?
Rambo: The one thing that Bruce taught me that never fails is the head tilt…works every time. The second would be the paw lift, it’s like the secret handshake that melts mom and dad. Hello treats!
Bogie: Good on ya little guy! I know neither of those, but will try to learn one of these days. Ok boys, I see that Rambo has the attention span of, well, a puppy. So we better wrap up with a lightening round before he falls asleep. You dudes ready?
Bruce and Rambo: Sure thing!
Bogie: Dallas or Austin?
American Football or Ballet?
Bogie: Playing in the house or surviving in the Vietnam jungle?
Rambo: Uh house of course, we are lazy bulldogs after all hahahah
Bogie: That’s a relief! Voss or Evian?
Bogie: Really? Over Voss? Ok fine, Jeans and a tee shirt or a collar and leash?
Bruce and Rambo: Both! Mom and Dad in jeans and a tee and then a collar and leash for us if we are going somewhere.
Bogie: Sounds about right. Comedy Central or ESPN?
Rambo: Comedy central
Bogie: Steak or Pork Sausage?
Bruce: Chicken and fish!
Bogie: What?! Why so healthy?? East Coast or West Coast?
Bogie: Good answer Rambo! Pee Pads or fire hydrants?
Bruce: Fire Hydrants! But those pee pads are a ton of fun to chew up.
Bogie: Teething on furniture or Dad’s shoes? (Rambo I think this one pertains more to you)
Rambo: Definitely Mom’s shoes, preferably the high heeled ones, oh and the stair molding tastes divine.
Bogie: You have fine taste buddy! Rambo or Bruce Lee?
Bruce and Rambo: Duh, Bruce Lee!