Â Wisdom must be refreshed. Snow in the high Colorado Mountains does not melt, it “sublimates”. Sublimation means that snow at a certain altitude changes from a solid to a gas without going through the usual watery phase. Wisdom is like that. You acquire it through painful lessons. You then own it rock solid. You go about your life. You become distracted. Wisdom sublimates so that later, when you need it, phfffft. It has out-gassed like a dinner of canned beans. One learns from one’s mistakes, but it does not do any good if one forgets what one has leaned. I forgot and thereby hangs a tail.
“Mom wants a replacement for Rudy,” said the beloved in my telephone earpiece. I could not see her face. I was at work and what is left of my mind was deeply engaged in some technical problem of getting electrons to go whither I wanted and not whence they might wish to wander. “I’m taking her to ARF,” continued the beloved in even, non-threatening tones.
Rudy had been a golden retriever who, how shall I say this delicately? He liked to put his nose into everyone’s business. He left moist imprints on the front of my corduroys. These damp spots were difficult to explain and made me self-conscious at various, big, in-law functions and holiday merry-makings, the gaiety of which was often rent by shouts of “Rudy! Down!” from everyone else but me. My role was to mutter, “Oh, he’s OK,” while violently crossing my legs and not meaning a word of my assurances. Rudy was not OK. He was weird.
But that day at work, the day in question, my brain was so enmeshed in matters electronical, that the phrase “taking Mom to ARF” failed to ignite the master alarm light on the dashboard of my mind. The warning siren failed to sound as well. Wisdom stood mute and forgotten. I hung up the phone. Hours went by. They seemed like normal hours, the kind that had been passing boringly in the post-election letdown. But they were not normal hours. They were fraught with complications and entrapment. The first I knew that fate had decided to stick its cold runny nose into my personal business, was when the office phone tootled later in the afternoon. I assumed it was some disgruntled customer. The gruntled ones do not call.
“Joe, line one is for you. It’s your wife.”
The beloved? At that hour? It was too early for her to ask me to stop at the IGA on the way home to fill-in some blank in the pantry.
“Yes my dear?” I intoned into the mouthpiece.
“Can you go with me to ARF tomorrow?”
“Certainly I am able to do so,” I said. The next day would be Saturday, my day for rest and recuperation. Ha! “But why? Has your mother found some needy straggler? Perhaps a Burmese Mountain Guard Dog with a nose the size of a dinner plate? She needs my assistance keeping it from grabbing the steering wheel on the journey home?”
“No. She didn’t see anything she liked … “
There was a dreadful pause as in a pause filled with dread. The pause was hers, the dread was mine. When it came back online, her voice was pitched in dreamy tones. “There is something I want you to see,” she said sweetly.
Poop and turds! That can only mean …
“She’s soooooo cute,” said the beloved, beginning the second oldest sales pitch.
“Cat?” I said with a tinge of hope in my trembling voice.
“No. She’s part Chihuahua and part schnauzer.”
“Did you say something my love? I think you are breaking up. One of us is. More of a crack-up really. I thought we agreed that when Scupper passes, we would be free and have a lot of extra spending money?”
“She’s soooo cute. I really want you to see her.”
“But you know quite well that I am susceptible to cuteness. If I see her and she is cute, I will give my heart to her. That’s what started all the trouble between us.”
“What trouble is that, buster?”
“This trouble right here! What happened to our weekends free to drive to Connecticut?”
“I’ve seen it.”
“All of it?”
“Enough of it. I really want you to see this dog. Can we go tomorrow?”
Hooves were planted. Weight was shifted. Horns were lowered.
I went. I saw. She conquered.
We call her Peaches. Her ears are like satellite dishes when they are opened for listening. At other times, they fold in half and stow tips down so that she is able to negotiate the world’s byways without wearing a “Wide Load” sign and a blinky light.
Scupper the schipperke was depressed at first. He likes routine and hates change of any kind. He cares not at all for public displays of affection. Peaches, on the other paw, likes to kiss anything that moves. She uses plenty of tongue. She is given to various enthusiasms and enjoys making a squeaky toy dance and sing. She has so much joie de vivre that no one can stay angry for long in her presence, even when she has been indiscrete with her … ah … natural functions.
The beloved, who in times not distant past, approached house cleaning with the care and determination of a molecular biologist, now glides past on the way to the powder room cradling a small but fragrant fecality wrapped loosely in the quicker-picker-upper. She cannot hide the smile on her face as she “sternly” reprimands Peaches for the puppy’s latest detour on the road to housebroken.
“Has Peaches been naughty? Poopies belong outside.”
Yes they do. And yes she has been.
Peaches smiles, wags her tail and nods. Maybe when we have the spring thaw … right now, baby, it’s cold outside.
Wisdom has been refreshed, but too late to be of any help in the matter of Peaches vs. Sisal et al. I will pass on to the rest of you what I have re-learned, in hopes that someone may benefit. Never let your spouse go to ARF alone. Â And by alone, I mean without you. Relatives and friends don’t count. They are all enablers. I have to end this now. I have to go walk Peaches and it is raining, which means I have to get her into one of her outfits. While I’m shoving a paw through the appropriate sleeve, I will get kissed a lot. It’s OK. When life hands you a lemon you should do something with all that zest.