PTSD and the Tale of Herschel Walker (the poodle, not the man)

Yesterday, one of my good friends told me the story of how their little dog came to join their family. I was sitting on a stool at her kitchen island. It was loaded with burgers, hotdogs, pickles, watermelon, and mac and cheese. My daughter’s and I were there to celebrate the Fourth of July with them. Which meant we were there to eat. Which has become quite confusing, this eating. This same friend and I just joined a weight-loss program and while eating cans of beans or pounds of chicken and beef is no problem, a 100-calorie sliver of dark chocolate is the points equivalent of an entire meal. This makes zero sense. 

I studied the burgers in front of me, which one, which one…giving them as much  consideration as I would a new car purchase while Herschel Walker, the family’s dog, wandered around the kitchen, working hard for someone, anyone to give him food. 

Herschel is a curly, cocoa-brown miniature poodle who is quite full of personality and anxiety. He’s a prancy little thing and had no shame doing tricks for a piece of hot dog. If you want to see intent and desire in its most pure form, observe a dog in the throes of inbound food. They will mashup their entire repertoire of tricks, combining sitting, laying, and rolling over into a single, ridiculous motion. 

Now that Herschel’s come around and will let me pet him (it’s the anxiety, y’all), I needed to know his story. “How old is Herschel?” I ask. 

They can’t recall for sure. “Maybe eight, probably nine,” my friend, Denise said.
“Is he a full-bred poodle?” I wanted to know.
“He is but when we picked him up, the breeder offered an unsolicited $100 discount, so there’s a little don’t ask, don’t tell on that front,” she said, smiling.
“When did you get him?” I asked.
A big sigh. “It’s a sad story. Do you really want to know?” she asks.
“Of course,” I replied.
“Well before Herschel, we had a small dog, a toy poodle, named Kelsey. She was so tiny, I could carry her in my purse,” she said. (This information surprises and amuses me, my friend doesn’t seem like the dog-in-the-purse type.) 

She went on, explaining how on this one particular evening, her husband left to pick up Chinese carryout. As the door shut and she heard him pull away, she realized she hadn’t yelled after him as she had a thousand times before to watch for the dog. “I figured I didn’t need to,” she said. Steve, her husband, had joined us in the kitchen and looked aghast when he realized the story he had walked into. 

“Oh my god, don’t tell that story. Why are you telling that?” he asked his wife. I felt awful for him. For them both, because yes, it ended how I didn’t want it to end; how no one, including the dog, wanted it to end. The little dog had run out the door and ran after the car. Steve had looked behind him, but the dog was the size of an actual tea cup and he just didn’t see her when he backed out of the drive. 

I hate hate hate stories like this. Not about dogs dying, well, of course about dogs dying, but I hate it when I hear possible proof that the unwanted monkey on my back of near-neurotic worry is there because it needs to be.  Continue reading “PTSD and the Tale of Herschel Walker (the poodle, not the man)”

The Glow

Remember when the house was new to us still?
When we returned our final offer on our first home, I had wanted the thrill of a deal.
To ask for something more exciting,
more mogul than a 12-month home warranty.
So I asked that the garden ornaments convey.
All of them.
Never mind I liked none of them.

Remember when the yard was unfamiliar to us still?
You stood tall and young, looking out the window filled with night
Your hands in the kitchen sink.
I saw you look twice.

Eyes big, you waved your hand and called me over.
(How I loved it when you said my name.)
Pointing, ‘Do you see it? That glowing, do you see it?’
I did. I saw it. But had no idea what it was.
A small spaceship? The eyes of an animal? A piece of the moon?

I didn’t venture out alone to investigate
Or send you into the dark by yourself
Nor mumble, ‘It’s probably nothing.’

We went outside together,
Tip-toeing around the catawpa tree, its limbs so low you had to duck.
Closer now, giggling.
‘You go.’
‘No, you go.’
‘I’m not going. You go.’

We approached the glow together, an army of two.
You nudged it with the tip of your shoe.
Nothing, no movement.
I bent down and poked the mystery on the ground.

‘Oh my god,’ I said, no more whispering.
The glow was from an extension cord set outside to power the small lily pond,
it’s illuminated end, once hidden under the mulch, now exposed.

The glow was nothing we expected it to be. Like so many things that would come to the surface.
Glowing multi-plug extension cord