I started by looking to my wife.
"Bridget, we're already taking our dog on the trip. Do not adopt another dog while we're in another state, in someone else's house, for only four days...."
Bridget looked outraged, so I continued.
"... wait until we get home to adopt another dog against my wishes."
She smiled and relaxed.
"Kids, while we're in Virginia, you have to wear clothes. It's not Florida. You can't go "hanging brains" all over people's furniture and get away with it. Besides, it's 40 degrees there. Your brains will actually freeze to the furniture.
The three kids glumly nodded their approval."Finally, if someone hears my stomach rumbling, subtly waft your hand in front of your nose to remind me that most people hold their farts in."
My family nodded. One of my kids began subtly wafting his hand immediately.
"Nice try," I said and farted.
Mostly, this worked. We passed as a normal family. No Virginia dogs were adopted and none of my kids got inappropriately nude. Gabriel, however, did have one small hiccup.
Gabriel loves watching documentary-style shows more than anything else - even the Cartoon Channel. Unfortunately, his ten year-old senses can't yet discern the difference between a Ken Burns documentary and, say, Ghost Hunters. This means that Gabriel is constantly spraying facts, figures and trivia that range from the tested and accurate through the wildly inaccurate and all the way into the batshit crazy insane. He's like my own amazingly pale Fox News Channel.
One morning Gabriel and I were sitting in the kitchen with Roger when Gabriel let loose with the following factoid:
"Did you know that in Mexico, people will often let their dogs loose in the wild because they can no longer afford to care for them? Eventually, they stop being domesticated and return to being wild creatures."
"I did not know that," Roger said in his best patient uncle manner. But Gabriel was not done.
"In fact, a wild Yorkie can easily kill a domesticated Pit Bull." He looked very scientific as he said this.
Uncle Roger stared hard at Gabriel. "A wild Yorkie?"
"Well, I don't believe that," said Roger, who is known world-wide for his tact and diplomacy.
Gabriel looked to me for help.
I obliged. "You know I'm going to kid you about this for a long time, right?"
Gabriel let out a sigh.
A few hours later, I kept my word. As Gabriel passed me in the hallway, I let out a soft rumble.
He responded by waving his hand subtly in front of his nose.
"That wasn't me, dude," I said.
He looked at me.
"I think it was a wild Yorkie."