Sun, 06/13/2021 - 7:19pm

Of Mice and Michael

Preparing for the journey to Westminster ends in a squeaker

Whether it was planned two years in advance, or you get a call at the last minute as a replacement judge, adjudicating at the Westminster Kennel Club is an honor to hold high. “Absolutely, I would be honored!” I shared with MR.HADDOCK two weeks prior to the show.

In a relatively short period of time, my transportation is secured thanks to MS.KYLE @ Onofrio Travel, hotel reservation made, contract signed and the Judges Dinner RSVP sent thanks to FABULOUS FLORENCE. I am feeling pretty damn good.

Monday morning, June 7, 2021, I am whacked across the head realizing that my two tuxedos no longer fit due to my healthy lifestyle choices and the shedding of 43 pounds. I panic! Not to mention, while driving to the office I realize that BUICK’s inspection expired on May 31.

Immediately I phone CHRIS @ the local Meineke. “Good morning, CHRIS! MICHAEL FAULKNER here, the guy with the old Jeep Wrangler and the BUICK.”

“Yes, how are things?”

“I am headed to the office and realized that my inspection is expired. Any chance of getting it in today?” 

CHRIS pauses for a few seconds and responds, “For you, yes. Bring it in as soon as you can, and we will fit you in between appointments.”

I phone TANEISHA, my office manager. “Good morning! I will be arriving a little later than expected. My car inspection has expired, and I will be at Meineke. If anything comes up, just give me a shout.” 

“No problem – see you later!”  

BUICK enters the MEINEKE parking lot with determination. I exit, grab Black-Ballistic-Mini-Man-Bag, GOOGLE PIXEL and the YETI tumbler filled with morning java. CHRIS is very welcoming, collects the keys, and goes back into the garage area. I take a seat in the waiting lounge, respond to all required clinic emails, and begin the task of locating a tuxedo at the last minute for Thursday’s Westminster Kennel Club judges dinner. I figure my best chance will be a last-minute rental. 

I phone five establishments within a 75-mile radius, and each one delivers the same response: “Sir, I am sorry, this is the peak of wedding and prom season. There is no way we can assist you at this time.” 

Translate: “Dude – What are you smoking? No way in hell you’re going to find one!” Indeed, I am knocked for the proverbial loop.

Frustrated, I take a quick bathroom break. I return to a few healing sips from YETI and remain standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), hoping to improve body awareness. Rocking back and forth and side to side, gradually reducing the swaying to a standstill. Thankfully there is no one else in the waiting area to witness me firming my thigh muscles, lifting my kneecaps, inner ankles driving – inspiring energy up along my inner thighs, through my groin, torso, neck and head. With my head directly over the center of my pelvis, the underside of my chin parallel to the floor, my throat soft, tongue wide and flat on the floor of my mouth, and my eyes soft, I breathe into an epiphany that stirs action.

That’s it – I will call my friend ANDREW at JOS. BANKS and see if they have any tuxedos in my size, and if so, I will make the hour drive to Richmond, and ask the owner of the local dry cleaners if they would make any necessary adjustments to the pants. This is my last hope!

Having no human being present, but wanting to share my inspired moment, I speak with gratitude to the video monitor demonstrating everything you need to know about a catalytic convertor. “THANK YOU!”


“JOS. BANKS, ANDREW speaking!” 

“Good morning ANDREW, this is MICHAEL FAULKNER from the Tappahannock, Virginia, area.”  “Yes, MICHAEL – I remember you. How’s BIG MICHAEL? Are you back to judging dog shows?”  “He’s well. Thanks for asking, and, yes, shows are back on, and I’m in a bit of a predicament.  Since I was last in, seven months ago, I have lost 43 pounds. I received a last-minute invitation to judge the WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB DOG SHOW this coming weekend, and I need a tuxedo for Thursday’s judges dinner.”

“Oh, well, that’s not going to be easy. There is no way we can get you a rental due to the prom and wedding season. The pandemic shut everything down. And now celebrations are popping out everywhere – like confetti on New Year’s Eve. However, we have a few on sale, the only problem … we would not be able to make any alterations due to the time restriction.” 

“I understand. Could you see if you have jackets in a 41 regular?” I ask, while maintaining my positive energy yoga vibe. ANDREW puts me on hold, and I wait, regulating my breathing so my inhales and exhales move in harmony.

“Great news, MICHAEL! We have two jackets, two different styles, both in 41 regular, and the waist measurement for the slacks is 34 inches for both.” 

“You’re joking!” I gush out excitedly.

“Nope. I’m not.” 

“This is too good to be true. Hold them both, and as soon as my car passes inspection, I will drive over immediately, try them on and buy one.”

“Excellent! See you soon, MICHAEL.” 

Feeling like I just hit the lottery, I wait patiently for CHRIS to complete BUICK’S inspection. Three other individuals arrive, drop off their vehicles and take seats in the waiting area. I remain engaged with work emails, despite wanting to share all the news about my soon-to-be tuxedo find. 

Twenty-two minutes pass and CHRIS enters from the garage, while at the same time BUICK is pulled out of the garage and parked in front of the entrance. “Look at this cabin air filter – I have never seen one so dirty. It’s covered with hair and, oddly enough, feathers, too. Do you want us to replace it?” 

“Absolutely!” I reply, hoping it does not involve driving BUICK back into the garage, lifting it up and another 30 minutes of labor.

CHRIS meets me outside, opens the passenger door, opens the glove compartment and removes it along with a cover located behind, sliding the new filter in place. “You’re all set!” 

I drive across the street, into the FOOD LION parking lot to pick up items for the trip to RICHMOND – LIME PERRIER, one apple and string cheese. Prior to parking, I turn the air conditioner on, and nothing is working – no cool air, no fan. CHRIS is phoned.

“Bring her back and I will check it out. I may have dislodged something that has caused the fan to stop when I put in the new filter.”  

BUICK pulls up and stops in front of the lobby entrance door, and in front of the huge floor-to-ceiling window with the other customers discretely trying to determine the reason

for my sudden return.

CHRIS opens the passenger door, opens the glove compartment, and removes the cover and the recently installed new cabin air filter. He reaches in and pulls out a huge wad of what looks like pillow stuffing and cotton combined with garden debris. The supply of crap being removed seems endless until CHRIS, in total shock, falls back out of the seat onto the pavement with an extended family of mice falling in every direction, scrambling for safety. 

The customers in waiting are glued to the window in pure amazement, and I sit in total shock while rodents and their offspring continue to be evacuated from BUICK.

One question pops into my mind. What if I— given the exigencies of time – had opted to get the air conditioning fixed after judging Westminster?

I have a brief and disturbing OBE (Out of Body Experience). I suddenly see myself driving to the Richmond Airport and imagine the undiscovered family of mice emerging with gusto from my glove compartment.

One of them can speak. “Hey, Michael, Old Buddy, can you get me a ticket to see Terriers at the dog show? I could heckle them from the stands and get them very excited … or, better yet, Mikey, I could stow away in your suitcase, hide myself in your tuxedo pocket, and then at the appropriate moment at the judge’s dinner, I can jump out and sing Three Blind Mice! I bet the judges get more excited than the Terriers!”


The vision fades quickly as another gentleman from the garage comes out with a broom and dustpan, hoping to scoop up as many as he can for a proper disposal.

“Let’s just be thankful it’s not a family of snakes!” CHRIS laughingly shares as the last of the mice colony is removed, and the filter is replaced for the second time. 

In sheer embarrassment, I do not stay for the second act, and quickly return to the FOOD LION parking lot with the air conditioning blowing full force, sans rodents.

I phone TANEISHA prior to entering the grocery store, explaining the need to drive to RICHMOND for my WESTMINTER JUDGES DINNER TUXEDO purchase. 

The LIME PERRIER soothes my fragile state. BUICK is engaged once again, with the new air filter and AC system working efficiently, and I’m off to collect the garment that will allow me to come across as slender, tall and broad shouldered with the appropriate focus on my face. And, hopefully by Thursday, I can put this entire last-minute RAT RACE to bed (not literally, thank God!), and my expression – and attire – will exude BOND – JAMES BOND.



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