"Come on, Max! You can do it!" Mom urged.
I was not passing this one up. As stealthily as I could, I eased my phone out and opened the camera app...
Mom saw me and gave me a hard look. "I don't need this to be on Facebook--Radar, NO."
"I just...um...I just want a picture of the dog," I lied unconvincingly, punching the record button.
Mom shook her head. "I don't want to be in it. No."
"Okay, fine," I huffed in mock exasperation, angling the camera at the edge of the table towards Max.
Mom turned back towards the dog, holding the plate of meat up (leftover stew). "Come on, Maxie! Woof! Woof! Come on Maxie, you can speak!"
"I think he's taking a movie," Dad muttered.
Mom rolled her eyes at me. "Please don't."
Needless to say, I ignored the request. Mom knew as well as I did that if I put it up on the internet (which I wasn't planning on doing), I was a dead man. However, I considered all non-uploaded videos my personal domain. As the one with the newest phone, too, I considered myself the unofficial family recorder.
My mother turned back to the dog. "Woof!" she invited.
Maxie's nose twitched. Everyone burst out laughing.
"I think there's too much negativity in here," Mom objected, plate still in hand.
"I think you're confusing 'negativity' with 'realism'," Dad offered, prompting another round of laughter from us Midway siblings. The dog was quite friendly, but somewhat...er...lacking in the brain department.
"Maxie, speak!" Mom tried again.
Squirrel piped up. "You're just confusing him!"
Max gave her a quick glance before returning his gaze to the plate in Mom's hand.
"Maxie! Do brain surgery!" Dad ordered.
Even Mom burst out laughing at that one. "Come on, Maxie, can you speak?"
The dog drooled a little.
"Come on, you can speak--"
"Can you drive a car?" Dad inquired.
We were all almost crying by this point. Max gave us no more attention and drooled at the plate a little more.
"Maxie! Tell time!" was Squirrel's contribution.
Dad shushed her.
"Maxie! Woof! Woof!" Mom tried again.
Quill snickered. "Change the oil?"
"OOH! He almost--no, wait, that was a burp," Dad noted. "I suppose it's sorta..."
Mom patted the dog's head. "Maxie, ignore them. I know you can speak."
"He's going to bite your arm," Dad said dryly--a hysterical statement, as Maxie was the gentlest dog we knew. Mom gave him a look; as she did so, Maxie slyly extended his nose towards Mom's hand. A moment later--
"He licked your plate!" Dad exclaimed. "Eew!"
Mom shrugged. "I was done with it anyway," she pointed out over the laughter.
"He's sick of it! He's tired of all this woofing crap--just give the plate up!" Dad intervened on behalf of the now wildly confused dog.
Mom gave her husband a look of mock disbelief. As she did, the golden retriever put his paws on the edge of her seat and launched himself up to see over the edge of the plate. Mom moved it away, just far enough for him to decide that he wasn't going to be able to make it. He settled back down.
"He's coming over the top!" Dad said gleefully.
Quill wiped tears of laughter out of her eyes. "Maybe you should just give him the plate."
"Oh, he's far too done with this," Dad laughed. "He burped--that's close enough!"
Mom finally acknowledged the inevitable and began lowering the plate to the ground. Maxie lunged for it and helped it descend much faster.
Dad and Squirrel were still roaring with laughter over Dad's last joke. "Well, he can eat it now," Quill offered.
"That's like woofing...just...in the other direction," Dad laughed.
Mom wrinkled her nose at the mess on the floor. "I told you he was gonna have an accident!" Squirrel wheezed.
"It's woofing in reverse!" Dad offered, still enjoying his joke.
"He swallowed his woof!" Squirrel offered. Everyone at the table--including Mom--burst out laughing.
Guess you really can't teach an old dog new tricks...