Being bits of wisdom gleaned from daily walks with my dog, Coffee. He left for stars unknown in 2010.
The Last Meatball
So I said to the dog “Today is the thirteenth. Do you know what that means?”
I gave him a minute. Briefly we made eye contact. His are brown, mine are green. He looked away, unrolled about four feet of dripping tongue and went into his heavy breathing routine. Not what I would call responsive.
“It means tomorrow is the fourteenth.”
No reaction. As always, my humor is lost on him. I sighed. But I translated his disdain into English.
“What?” he seemed to be saying, noticing my scowl. “Were you talking to me just then?”
“Oh no,” I said, hoping my sarcasm was thick enough to make my point. “I was talking to myself.”
“You know, you do that a lot,” he might have replied. If he spoke English.
When it’s just you and the hound all day long and you come up from your basement office for a mid-morning break, you feel like making contact with the outside world. If you were in an office it would be like getting a drink at the water fountain down the hall just as your colleague Bob was coming out of his cubicle to do the same.
“Bob,” you’d say, sociably.
Bob, not your most social being, would nod silently and start to fill his water bottle, the one with Darth Vader on it that his mother gave him for Christmas. Along with a plaid speedo she thought he could wear while jogging on his lunch hour. Which he wore only the one time and afterward found an unsigned and untraceable email on his machine: “Some friendly advice,” it said. “Either lose 40 pounds or the Braveheart underpants.”
Lacking a Bob in your kitchen, you are faced with the choice of remaining silent during your break from reality, or actually talking to the dog. If you’re Bob, you probably don’t say anything because you know dogs can’t talk. If you’re a little less tightly wrapped, you have a choice of two conversational pathways. You could, for instance, descend into baby talk.
“How’s my itty bitty, goofy woofy, puppy wuppy?” (This, even though the 50 pound bag of dog food in the garage reminds you daily that his butt aint itty bitty at all and he hasn’t qualified for puppy status in fourteen years.) “You’re such a cute little hairbag and your snout is so fuzzy. Soooo fuzzy. Yes it is, silly willy. Do you need hugs? How ‘bout a tummy rub? Oh, silly willy likes his tummy rubs, doesn’t he? Would you like a num num?”
Of course, you’d never talk like that to Bob. Not unless you wanted to have an anonymous email show up on your screen speculating on your past criminal/psych ward record.
The other alternative is to keep the dog conversation on a higher plane. You bring him up to you rather than dumbing it down to the num num level.
A typical conversation at the 10:30 a.m. snack break might sound like this.
“Dude,” you say in greeting, coming into the kitchen. “Zappening?”
“Is there any food in the house?” you say in a whimpery, half-dead tone on his behalf. “I haven’t eaten in three very long minutes.”
You chuckle, but you ignore him. You open the fridge, looking for that leftover meatball from last night’s supper. You back out with a container wrapped in plastic.
“What?” you say, looking from dog to container to dog. “This? Oh, no, this is bad for Mr. Dog.”
“What are you a doctor?” you say he says in the tone you know he’d use if only he could. “And if you are, what doctor in his right mind would suggest someone eat a meatball at 10:30 in the morning?”
“These are turkey meatballs,” you say. “How about a num num instead?”
“You think I’d eat a num num when there’s meatball in the air?”
“You like num nums.”
“I like turkey, too. And by the way, that’s a huge meatball. You eat the whole thing, you’re gonna regret it.”
You launch into song: “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”
“Right, Mr. ‘My Way’ Sinatra. And I’m Rin Tin Tin. Now, are you gonna share that thing or am I gonna have to bark?”
Of course, all along the dog is just sitting there watching you, unaware of what a splendid conversationalist he is. What he is aware of is your meatball.
Later, when Katherine comes home she asks how you and your best friend got along today.
“He was a bad dog,” you tell her. “He barked at me.”
She’s rummaging in the fridge.“What happened to the leftover meatball?”
Normally, Katherine, a vegetarian, wouldn’t care about a missing meatball, even a turkey meatball. Tonight, however, she’s volunteered to make me dinner.
“Um, he ate it.”
“The dog?” she says, looking back at the two of us. “How did he open the refrigerator?”
“Well,” I say, “he was pretty clear in his barking that if I didn’t open the door, and give him the meatball, he’d have me for lunch. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.” I give the hound a conspirator’s wink. “Would you, Dude?”
“Leave me out of this, num num.” Katherine is speaking now, but she is using words he would surely use if only he’d paid attention in canine school. “She knows a meatball hog when she sees one. And oh, by the way, is that spaghetti sauce on your collar?”
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.