No. 17 in “Nuggets I picked up from my dog,” inspired while walking the late Coffee J. Dogg.
Down in the basement this morning I am alert, wired, spinning thought into gold to keep the wolf from the door. Coffee is stretched out on the floor beside me, spinning thought into snores. From upstairs I hear a shout.
It’s hard sometimes to make out the exact words of someone upstairs calling, shouting, yelling. First question I ask as my fingers pause momentarily over the melting laptop keys: are they calling, shouting, yelling at me? Or just calling, shouting, yelling at life?
Since the “they” in question is always Katherine, and since she so seldom hollers at life, I jump to the conclusion that it is I whose ears were meant to pick up on that which has been laid down.
I get up from the keyboard and go to the foot of the basement stairs. The beast raises his head to make sure I’m not leaving him forever. I tell him to put his head back down. He does. His tongue protrudes slightly between his teeth, a sure sign he’s back dreaming of squirrels and rabbits.
At the foot of the stairs I correctly interpret the frittering and scurrying from above as Katherine—she of the job that carries the health insurance—on her way out the door for work.
“Hello?” I call.
“Goodbye,” her voice sings as she heads out the door.
Instantly a neuron fires in my brain. Wheels whir and a little mechanical arm like that in a juke box glides across a track into the elephant groove yard section of my think tank. It stops at the cell called Walrus. It rings the doorbell.
Magically, a memory from 1967 goes live on the interior jumbotron. Deftly switching metaphors, I imagine a ping-pong player watching a ball drop plumply over the net into his wheelhouse. I am that player (not the walrus). I rear back with my paddle and go for the whack-a-mole.
“You say goodbye,” I sing out, “and I say hello.”
Oh, what a wit, I gloat inwardly as I slipper back to the laptop. Then I sit there in vain for an hour trying not to keep humming, singing, whistling along with the Beatles: “You say yes, I say no. You say stop and I say go. Go, go.” Oh no.
Oh yes. It’s the kind of stray thought that kills momentum and eats up hours and triggers daydreams and just won’t let go. Because, deep down I don’t want it to let go. I just want to float in the moment, chill out, stop cranking, stop spinning gold, forget about the wolf. I sigh. Really, I just want to play with my toys.
So I reach for my banjo, thinking ‘I’ll just play a couple of quick tunes to get the synapses synapsing.’ Before I know it, lunch time has rolled around and all I’ve got to show for the morning is a very cool 3-finger picking break to “Molly and Tenbrooks.
After lunch, Coffee and I take a quick peak out the front window. No sign of the wolf, I note. Dog looks up at me expectantly. I know what he wants.
He wants a walk with all the trimmings: up the hill, down the hill, snouting, snorting; a little ruffing at the crow on the roof across the street; a little rolling in the grass, a little serious communing with the hum of nature.
But I know what I want: I want a nap. Just a short one. Nothing involving jammies or teddy bears. Just a brief closing of the eyes. Recharge the battery. Blow out the cobwebs. Get the synapsessssszzzzzzzzzzz.
I’m on the couch, just getting comfortable. Over years of nap taking I have learned to pull a baseball cap over my eyes. For today’s siesta I have carefully selected my Daffy Duck cap which hasn’t been overly sweated up during lawn mowing sessions. I arrange it just so. It’s dark. It’s quiet. It’s blissful. I’m drifting off to the land of…
Someone has entered my space and is breathing into my ear. Someone with four feet. I don’t open my eyes, but I can feel him sitting there, just staring at me. A cold, wet nose brushes my ear.
“Hey,” I mumble. “I’m taking a nap.”
I try to ignore him. He continues to stare. Really hard. I feel his eyes. I’m losing the blissful. I open my eyes, I lift my Daffy Duck bill and stare straight into his wet black nostrils.
“Look, do I bother you when you’re taking a nap?”
He says nothing. Playing it dumb.
I readjust the duck and try again. It’s dark. It’s quiet…
The master manipulator raises the ante. He scooches his butt forward and rests his chin on my arm. I crack the duck. His big brown eyes are pleading, ever hopeful. Just to make sure I get the message, he rakes my shoulder with a paw full of unclipped nails.
I am not good with pleading eyes, even worse with a shredded shoulder. So I give in. I put on my shoes. I exchange Daffy for my outdoor cap—it says North Dakota Hockey—and we set out.
Up the hill, down the hill, smell the air, pump that blood, fire them synapses. When we get back we get our drink of water and our biscuit for being (ahem) a good boy and everyone is happy. Guess who settles down for a little afternoon nap?
I head back to the laptop feeling, if not blissful, at least wide awake. And remain so the rest of the day—except for short interruptions to open a window to keep from being asphyxiated by snoring methane.
When Katherine comes home from work looking tired and world weary—though still insured—she asks how my day went. I learned long ago never to tell her that I’d had a nap and that I felt refreshed.
Apparently at her job site naps are frowned upon. In the past, when I’ve mentioned the word nap, she has frowned upon me and resorted to slander, saying things such as “You…naptaker.”
So I make the command decision to edit the attempted nap from the day’s happenings. Instead I pull out the five-string and play my sweet new break to Molly and Tenbrooks. We then live happily ever after.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.