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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Let's Reminisce

If you are fortunate enough to be blessed with a dog, or perhaps even twice blessed with two, then you know the axiom, "Let sleeping dogs lie," isn't just something clever to say.

It's not even that clever.

A sleeping dog is a beautiful, taciturn thing. Well, okay-- sometimes it can be a grotesque thing, I'll admit. When Finley sleeps, all 68 pounds of him, he thrashes and twitches and snores with all of the feverish intensity of a gored ox. He looks quite epileptic, as all of his limbs erratically jut about, and it seems improbable that he's enjoying any peace at all. Of course, the optimist might say that he's dreaming about himself as a puppy, twelve or thirteen years ago, gallivanting about and racing through the imagined fields of his youth, with unbridled exuberance and glee.

Oh, my darling. Oh, my pet.

Molly asleep is a thing of beauty. Of course, she's pretty stunning when awake, if you don't mind me fawning and falling all over my own dog, but asleep she is magic. When she curls up onto your lap or falls asleep on your chest, there is just nothing in the world like it. The moments before she falls asleep are edible. She will brace herself up on my chest with her forepaw and stare into my eyes, struggling to keep her little head up, as if to say, "Why? Why are we not in bed yet? I... I don't understand." And her eyes will close of their own volition, slowly, and the head will droop, and that'll be that. Her breath makes a gentle whooshing noise, soft and warm, and she's quite gone.

But, life goes on around her. The dryer buzzes and demands attention, we have to get up from the couch to make lunches for tomorrow, the remote slides out from under the blanket and falls onto the hardwood floor, and the beige head and the gray head jerk up. Canine slumber is disturbed. And it's our own little domestic tragedy.

As a general rule, I try to let sleeping dogs lie in my own personal life, too. If there is a situation from the past that caused me grief or pain, I try my best to let it go, to not hold onto anger or sadness over things that happened that I cannot change. I try not to seek people out from the annals of my own personal history and pick up old fights or rehash careworn arguments. Likewise, I'm not someone who especially likes to engage in the nostalgia effect, either. Recently, my wife found a bunch of quite-forgotten about photographs (you know, actual ones-- like, that were developed in a drug store) of she and I when our relationship was younger than it is now.

"These will make you pretty schmoopie," she said, offering me the packet.

"But, I'm already schmoopie," I replied, looking deeply into her eyes.

I don't know what it is, but I just don't want to go there. And so I didn't. I didn't look. The packet of photos sits on top of a green filing cabinet in our office, leaning up against a sewing kit my mother bought Mrs. Apron for her birthday a year or so ago. I guess I just like to let sleeping dogs lie, even if they're nice dogs. Good dogs.


I wasn't always this way, of course.

"Mommy," I used to say, "let's reminisce about when I was a boy."

I couldn't have been more than ten or eleven when I would make this request. And my mother would dutifully pull out the photo album that held the images of a long-ago time when a small boy with a large head absolutely covered with long, fine strands of light brown, almost reddish hair could wear a luridly-hued striped shirt beneath Osh-Kosh overalls-- with bell-bottoms.

And my mother and I would leaf through these pages together, in her bed or on the living room sofa.

Me as a doctor for Halloween-- 1986. My father had carefully applied a felt red cross to the breast pocket of a white button down shirt of mine. I wore a brown clip-on necktie, green pants, and in my hand I clutched a plastic, tan briefcase used to house colored markers. A large red cross, also in felt, was emblazoned upon the briefcase. I looked at the camera with a gaze of utter seriousness, as if I were about to perform a craniotomy on one of my stuffed penguins.

My birthday, 1987. I had just opened a package that contained a beautiful white teddy bear, dressed in a black vest and topped with a black bowler hat. I named him "Oliver," after Oliver Hardy. Of course.

There are others, yeah, just like there are in the albums of your past. I could go on, but I kind of like to let sleeping dogs lie.

As I blogged about a little while ago, last month I capitulated and joined modern society and bought myself a new BlackBerry Curve, letting AT&T put a choke-chain on my soul for another two years. It's not that bad and, sometimes, when they tug on it in just the right way, it feels kinda good. The phone plays the theme from "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" when people call, it shows pictures of my family and my friends when they call, it browses the internet with startling speed and efficiency, it keeps my text conversations in that charming little bubble format, and it sends my Gmails, my Yahoos, and my texts and my Facebook updates right to my pocket where, evidently, they all belong.

In short, in matters vegetable, animal and mineral, my phone does everything I want it to do.

It also does something I don't want it to do.

Every now and then, the phone will blip, indicating that I have an email from my Yahoo account. And I'll look.

Sender: Dave B.

The first time it happened, my heart absolutely stopped. It was as if a voice were calling to me from the dead. Not dead, of course. Just from long ago and far away. My former best friend, who stopped speaking to me-- what is it-- almost three years ago now? It's hard to remember.

And I mean that.

I was utterly confused and frightened and sad-- why could he be contacting me all of a sudden? What did he want from me? Why is it that when I'm about ready to put him behind me this stupid motherfucking piece of fake chrome and plastic boops to announce his return? And then I looked closer.

Send Date: April 22, 2006

In the past month, three old emails from Dave have popped up on my phone, all from 2006-- maybe the height of the powerful friendship we shared together for so many years. One email, also from 2006, popped up just a couple days ago-- from the florist we hired to create the flowers for our wedding. And, as touching a memory as reading that one way, I deleted all four emails, because, sometimes, this dog just wants to sleep.

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