Thursday, July 25, 2013


Monty came to us a little broken. He'd been shuttled around from rescue to rescue so often that any time a car door opened, he'd mournfully shuffle towards it, tail dragging like a canine Eeyore.

He was missing one of his big lower teeth, never made a peep, and didn't really know how to play. You'd throw a ball for him and he'd just stare it and then look up at you with these big brown eyes. He didn't care about anyone who only gave him passing attention. You had to put in your time with Monty to get affection from him, and affection from him was simple: he wanted to hold hands.

He'd come sit by you, and just rest his paw on your foot, or your leg. He didn't want you to scratch him or shake it, or anything but just sit there and hold his hand and maybe talk to him. There's no other way to say it: that dog was noble. That dog was Atticus Finch.

Our other dog Cleo, younger and more sprightly is a fine dog, a sweet dog, but... She's just a dog. She's not a soul who just happens to be currently in a dog costume. You throw the ball, she fetches it. Then you have to yell at her for a couple of minutes until she finally fucking drops it.

It took nearly three years for Monty to understand what "playing" meant. The first time he took a loping stride towards a ball I chucked, I immediately reported it to my dad. Monty didn't do it again for months. Instead, I would bring another ball, which he would happily keep in his jaws, right where that big lower tooth should be, and sit by me, paw on my foot, while I chucked another ball for the puppy.

One day at the beach, I tossed a tennis ball down the way for Cleo, who immediately lost sight of the thing and started digging for it about 20 feet away from its position in plain view. Lo, Monty pulled himself up onto his aging hips and loped down the beach with clear purpose. He nabbed that ball without Cleo noticing, and started back.

It was "Chariots of Fire."

It was the Olympic torch relay.

He trotted back, tail up, chest out and looked right up at me.

Reader, I burst into tears and threw my arms around him.

He kept that ball in his mouth the rest of the day, and sat by me through lunch and dinner, one paw on my foot, the whole while long.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Past Perfect

It wasn't until he suggested a second pitcher that I realized something maybe was happening. Years of platonic dinners hadn't yet dimmed my crush, but I'd made peace and figured that discussions about Batman over burritos was nothing to complain about. He asked me if I was seeing anyone, and I said no, I asked the same in return and his face told me he was embarrassed before he'd even said anything.

He was sort of, occasionally seeing this girl, he said, but couldn't be serious about her, since she's in her early 20s and, he cringed, an intern at the same company. She's great, he said (and I believed him) but they were "definitely not B.F./G.F.." I remember that moment because I remember thinking that a man closer to 40 than 30 was describing his romantic status to me in such terms.

He suggested we go to a second bar, and we did and then he suggested we go outside and kiss and we did. I slept alone and bought flowers for the table the next day.

Nearly a week later when he wrote to say how horribly guilty he felt, especially because his girlfriend had a troubled past, I felt a peculiar, short pang. Then I remembered how a teacher told me once that sometimes, on winding roads, you can tell how you should steer the car forward by only looking in the rearview mirror. I should never try it though, she warned me, because it's too dangerous; I could really hurt myself.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Champagne Problems

At first I liked his big loud laugh, but what did me in was that he let me shake the cocktail shaker when I said how much I love the sound. (I was willing to overlook the au courant old-timey bartender suspenders. Brooklyn.)

Plus, he kept refilling my champagne which, I am sorry to admit, will eventually morph me into someone who thinks that the evening will come to include something along the lines of:

But because I am a shy person stuck in a loud body, and because I am, in general, bad at this sort of thing, I thought I would show my interest via the time-tested method of doodling on a coaster.


On one side, marked "No!" I  listed things such as: mint, spiders, emoticons, skirts you have to dry clean, e-books, people who take up more than one subway seat, etc.

On the "Yes!" side was my number, baseball, Sundays, the newspaper, Christmas, matching underwear, slide guitars, "Casablanca," avocados, and such.

I thanked him for the drinks, set the coaster down in front of him, and bolted, leaving it to my friend to confirm he had looked at it, smiled and tucked it away in his trousers.

I never heard from him, didn't go back to the bar for 6 months, and vowed never to be dumb enough to think it would be a good idea to use a coaster to flirt with someone. Because, honestly! 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


We got up early to clear away bottles while the fog still sat low on the waves. A couple of days' worth of bowls of guacamole and ash needed to be rinsed and set aside, the recycling put out by the bougainvillea. I made a neat stack of old paperbacks while the old coffeemaker cheerfully did its job. I glanced at the  box of freshly-pressed elegant stationary, "Thank You For Your Sympathy."

When it was me, I hadn't used any of the cheap, floral cards the funeral home had given me. I didn't thank anyone for their sympathy.

We put on sweaters and carried our coffees out onto the rock. The tide was high.

"I don't think we're going to be be back here for a long time," she said.

We drank our coffee with almond milk and I thought about my mother's name, dimming slowly until it finally goes out; her last death.