• biddy •
Walking the doggies almost always brings with it the most amazing encounters when we are out and about. Usually, it’s the puppies themselves who will point it out, this whatever it is, that so transfixes, and/or astonishes. They’re good that way, with extraordinary curiosity about everything, having good little hearts, as they do. And so often is it that this very fact is instantly recognized by passersby, and those we pass. So sweetly do they say what admirable little frames they have, and what faces! And what are they called? “Papillon!” I’ll say, and they’ll say, “Oh, my!” And I’ll say, “That means ‘butterfly’ in French,” and sometimes I even throw in, “en français” with a flourish, very cavalierly – and I’ll say, “It’s the ears, did ya get a load o’ them?” I’ll laugh, “‘Hope a strong wind doesn’t come along, or we could lose both of ’em!” And they’ll say, “Oh, heaven forbid! And aren’t they adorable!” And I’ll say, “Why yes, the bees knees, the wasps nipples, and, too, so good with kids!” And we’ll both agree, and say, “Good day!” And we’re on our way, both charming and charmed, as happy as the day is long, and loving it. Such is our bliss.
The older of the two, the ‘girl’ (I detest the other term, even if it is technically correct) is in her prime: beautiful, sharp-eyed, fleet of foot, and confident. Self-possessed. (Well, I own her, but don’t bother telling her that. She’d laugh in your face.) “Indeed.” She’d say.
In any case, she has started doing this thing, when we are on our walks: she’ll see a thing, say, an old couple coming out of a house, across the street, who are happy, and talking, convivially. The man may give her a little goodbye kiss, and pointing to her, as he walks to his car, he’ll say something, and they’ll laugh, and wave goodbye. Or something like that – and that dog of mine, My Girl – will stand there, in the precise posture of a pointer, eyes fixed, and all her concentration is absolutely on them, or whatever it is. It’s as if she knows, if she’s got to go home soon, she wants to bring this special thing with her. As if she wants to remember everything, in gloriously minute detail, to savor, and ponder it over and over, to endlessly enjoy, this, whatever it is.
I guess I should say, in all fairness, that it could just as easily, be a squirrel, up a tree. But, absolutely charming, the entire thing, this lovely process. And then, naturally, it goes without saying that:
She does this, too, with other dogs, which she finds endlessly fascinating. It is as if, of her to say, “Oh, look! Another one of me! And yet, not! Oh, how glorious! How wonderful we all are, in our infinite variety!” And she’ll drink him in, or, more usually, she. And they’ll stand and stare, one at the other, and vice-versa, endlessly.
And there I’ll stand, holding her pink leash, aloft, just so, so as not to encumber her epiphany – her glorious moment of revelry, her eye for the wonder of Nature – (sigh!!) all within the quaint confines of our picturesque community.
It’s just a wonder, and so is she.
(Oh, and there’s, JoJo, too. He’s the teenager. He likes to pee on shit. Literally. Still, we love him. At least he doesn’t eat it. At least, he hasn’t yet.)
Anyway, this very thing happened, on our walk, again yesterday, this doggie staring contest, rife with astral butterfly kisses, and ocular caresses.
We were on the last leg of our journey, about to round the corner, to cross our street, at the corner, and after just a half a block more, up, and into our house, to relax with a cooling drink, under a cooling fan, and a doggie treat – when she stopped, and stared, and simply would not be moved from the spot: for there, a black, oh, I don’t know from breeds of dogs, but a shaggy black one, not too old, about knee-high to his lady-owner, a dowager in an ill-fitting dress, gray-haired, and clearly of some years: frankly, typical of our neighborhood – stood, in apparent blazing glory, the dog, I mean. (I didn’t know her, the lady, but) I like to be neighborly, and, so, when I saw that her dog and my dog were doing this “thing”: it was like love at first sight, for the both of them – so I stood there, as is my habit, holding her leash aloft, gingerly, only occasionally looking across the street at the object of her intense, but brief affection, we shared a moment of shared ‘joie de vivre’, the lady and me. It must have been a full three minutes, we all stood, in our respective charmed states. The woman seemed to be, like me, standing absolutely still, transfixed in the joy of the moment, it seemed, she, like me, full of happy wonder, or so it seemed to me. And then.
“Are you going to be moving, again, anytime soon?!!” she barked.
“Beg ‘pardon? How’s that?”
“You, and your yappy little mutts, always barking at mine!! Move along, will you?!! Can’t you see she’s intimidating him?!!! What’s her problem, anyway?!! Hasn’t she got anything better to do, than bully other dogs?!!”
Mutts? Did she say mutts?
“Always barking at my dog, those little ones!”
(Not even Jo had made a peep. He was pretty busy, at the moment, actually, lining up on some shit, and was about to let fly, pee-wise, all over it. Perfection, if you were to ask him.)
And as for My Girl: as far as I was concerned, she had been a perfect lady. Regal. Majestic even. A bully, she? Not a bit of it!
“Well, please excuse us. I thought you were having as much fun as we were.” I countered.
(Jo was peeing on shit. I was confounded as shit. “Having fun?” I reiterated, mentally, too stunned to speak. Ever heard of it?)
“Well, we weren’t!!” She shrieked. “Move along will you? And take your nasty dogs with you! We haven’t got all day, and he’s got his business to do!”
“Let’s go, kids, I said. We’ve obviously made a big mistake.” And we went on our not-so-merry way.
“Gawking at my dog, like that…little hussy!” She threw at our backs.
Them’s fighting words. But no. Not today. We are better than that.
(Jo picked up on the tension, and growled at the offending lady, and tugged at his leash, like, “Snippy, eh? Well, I’ll show her…” As we pulled away. As if.)
“Pay no attention to mean old, Ms. Crotchety Small Mind, my little doggies,” I soothed, as we repaired to our safe little cottage, far from the maddening, frumpy, black cloud.
“She obviously can’t help herself, being so essentially, mean, nasty, and humorless, otherwise, she’d have had it removed, by now – like any festering carbuncle on the butt of society.”
We rounded the corner. Almost to the front steps. Thank goodness. Good old home. Good old homecoming. I was pissed.
“Let’s not let the grumpy old biddy ruin our afternoon.”
“We have no choice but to forgive her, such as she is -”
“And, judging from her advanced age…
If there’s any justice in this world…” I cooed,
“She’ll be dead soon.” .
~ Tim Burchfield
• biddy •