Nuggets I picked up from my dog, No. 11

Being bits of wisdom gleaned from daily walks with my dog, Coffee. He left for stars unknown in 2010.

That could be it

We were coming down the hill, the creature and I, nearly home after a perspiring rotation of the entire block. Not so easy for me to trek that far in wilting mid-August heat, but the pooper had insisted. I, of course, was at his complete command.

It was just about 7:30 but already the sun had faded somewhere behind a thickening sky. It reminded me of the soft grey jeweler’s cloth I use to polish the hardware on the 5-string. Rain coming and summer going. Both very soon. And like the stubborn Coffee J. Dogg, whose hairy mind is his own and can’t be changed (without a ham sandwich), I knew there was nothing anyone could say or do to make it July again.

Most of the local kids were already safe inside their air-conditioned houses for the night, sweating through their first night of homework since June. The very thought of homework made me sweat. Ahead I could see Scott, our neighbor, sitting on the concrete apron of his driveway, with Zach, his 3-year-old son. They were doodling on the pavement with thick sticks of colored chalk. Zach looked up and saw Coffee and gave out one of those impossibly high-pitched kid squeals. He took off up the street toward us.

Coffee dropped his butt onto Wade’s lawn and generously suffered the little child to come unto him to press the fur. Scott and Heather have two miniature poodles, yappers named Johnnie and Shotzie. Heather told Katherine that Zach is afraid of them. They even took Zach to the humane society so he could see and pet other dogs and know that there were friendly beasts in this world. Beasts like the hairbag next door. (I knew of one other bond between Zach and Coffee: he, too, was afraid of those yappers.)

I noticed then that our front lawn had been mowed. I certainly hadn’t done it, nor had Katherine. I knew that for a fact because the fancy, environmentally friendly, battery operated blankety blank lawn mower we’d purchased at great expense in April to save money was acting unfriendly. It would no longer start.

For the past eight years we’d had a young kid come around to mow the lawn. It got expensive, and this year we decided, hey, let’s do the lawn ourselves. Which meant I would do the lawn. What a mistake. It’s been 15 years since I mowed a lawn and given that most of ours is a 45 degree hill out in back, I was unprepared for the energy and sweat and time that it took. I’ve been unprepared and sweaty all summer long. To the point where mowing the lawn is something I often put off.

Then one day Scott swung his mower over to our front yard as he was finishing up his own lawn. I protested, but he shrugged it off. “Took me five minutes,” he said.

Scott is one of those big-hearted people you read about in magazines. You don’t read about them in newspapers because no one reads the paper anymore. (A harangue for another day.) Anyway, some months ago we were unloading the groceries from the environmentally friendly, battery operated Prius purchased at great expense to save money, when suddenly there was Scott. He took the bags from Katherine’s arms and carried them into the house. I had to carry my own, which was only right and proper.

At the time we thought, what a nice young man to do that. But in the back of my mind I was thinking hey, I’m still a nice young man, aren’t I? Slowly it began to sink in that I was now officially a grown up. No longer a promising young man? Well… Promising? Yes. Young? At heart, of course. But I used to be able to mow like nobody’s business. I used to be able to carry six bags of groceries at a time. In fact, I used to be Scott (without the goatee and all the bags of mulch in his garage).

“What?” said Katherine as we sat down to dinner.

I sighed. “Are we becoming geezers?”

“Look,” she said, well aware of my insecurities. “Maybe Scott just likes us.”

“Wow,” I said. “I never thought of that.”

“Think about it,” she said. “What’s not to like?”

So I thought about it. Now I’m thinking yeah, that could be it.

©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.

This entry was posted in Dogs I Have Known, The human comedy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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