Trying to keep White Fang cool in the summer heat, hopscotching from shady spot to shady spot, brushing my hair with the low-hanging oaks.
“We are all sinners in extreme heat,” Keillor says.
Speak for yourself, pal. I haven’t had a naughty thought since, like, late yesterday. OK, technically this morning. Oops.
Listen, some like it hot. Not me. I like sweater weather and cool breezes and goose bumps. I like freezer burn.
So in the mornings, White Fang and I march off early in search of one cool breeze, nodding politely to others — forcing smiles, pretending not to be dying out there.
Pet wolves are always good talking points. On the street, strangers will ask: “So what kind of dog is that?” I say, “She’s a Sagittarius. But her mother was a Scorpio.”
White Fang is, in fact, a husky/wolf/Sagittarius mix. She sheds constantly. Even her lungs are furry… her pancreas, her spleen. She seems made entirely of yarn. In late July, White Fang sheds in her sleep. I wake up at 2 am just to sweep a little.
Obviously, White Fang and I have a very traditional demi-sexual relationship (as in Demi Moore, as in Demi Lovato).
Before bed, I feed her Popsicles and wipe the drips from her chin, like Mickey Rourke to Kim Basinger. In turn, she slurps my toes with her cold and marvelous tongue (I’ve had worse kisses). And no kisses (remember last year’s big whiff with No-Kiss Kelly?)
Strangers see me with White Fang and think, “Whew, how did that little peach wind up with him?” Like when Lyle Lovett snagged Julia Roberts. FYI, she probably sheds a lot as well.
My pal posted something interesting the other day:
“I’m not waiting for a hero … I just want a weirdo to go on vacations with. Someone who will dance with me, kiss me when I least expect it and make me laugh.”
That quote is from author Brooke Hampton, who also once posted, “She wasn’t looking for a knight, she was looking for a sword,” so you know where her head is at.
What does all that do to our concept of love? Do we compromise? Do we give up?
Do we just get a wolf dog and be done with it…then wind up thinking: “This isn’t so bad. She licks my Popsicle toes. At least that’s something.”
I’ve long claimed that there is little romance in music anymore, or TV, or film.
Still, folks flock to Hallmark movies. They fall – on screen and in lousy literature — for bad guys and vampires. What’s that tell you? That we’re willing to risk our lives for a little romance? That we crave goose bumps?
Sure we do.
Because romance is the purest magic. Like microwaves or push-up bras, no one really understand how it works. Or where it comes from, or what exactly stirs our battle-weary hearts.
Like a lot of the Irish, I wake each morning with a broken heart, and in the course of the day I try everything to mend it: oysters, potato skins, dad jokes, puns.
The other day, I had a bar-room revelation: After two drinks, women are exactly the fun and flirty people we wish them to be.
I’ve tested it a couple of times since. It really works!
Meanwhile, my favorite little tater tot (Catty Cakes) is my new cardiologist. My granddaughter lights my heart when I walk in the door, though that may be a triumph of baby gas over reality.
Then again, it may be a triumph of medical science.
My favorite plot twist? Children. Often they are planned, often not. Unexpected babies are the zaniest plot twists of all, and you end up loving them till you die. That is romance in a nutshell – unforeseen and capricious.
Hey, what do I know? I’m just a guy with a bad mustache and a 7-year-old pair of Keds. Right now, I’ve got leaf blowers out my window, Mozart on the book shelf. I’m still paying off my student loans.
I’m as dazed and confused as you are.
I paid $17.50 for a beer at a Dodger game the other night, so I’m obviously not the sharpest sword in the shed. The very fact I attended a Dodger game drops my emotional development down a notch or three. My shaman is gonna be so mad.
I live question to question, day to day. Listen to the way people talk. They converse in questions.
“How’d you sleep?”
“Whataya want for lunch?”
“Think this salami’s still good?”
Basically, that’s what separates us from the other beasts. We question stuff. Dogs snarl over food and personal space. We snarl over anyone who disagrees with us on the idiot issues of the day.
Now, tell me: Who’s smarter?
Listen, romance is my alcohol, romance is my balm. I hunt for it like some mad private eye — in books, in movies, in soda shops. I don’t need it in people, actually. A beautiful thing is a beautiful thing. I swoon for sunsets and fourth-quarter rallies. I brake for drum solos.
I’m convinced that romance mostly finds us. As in that wind-chime moment when you look across the vegetable aisle and think: “Hmmmm, I like her dimples. I’m taken with the thoughtful and serious way she squeezes that zucchini. I admire her commitment and her hands.”
“Wanna get coffee?” you ask.
“But not with you,” she says, and moves on to the frozen foods.
Look, for me that’s a very positive encounter. Romance finds you, sure, but you have to make an effort. You have to put yourself out there, like Napoleon did, or Kublai Kahn. Or Madeline Kahn.
Occasionally, you just say to yourself: “Hey, I’m gonna go for it here…a Hail Mary…a high fluttering throw into the end zone.”
Big deal it gets batted down. You tried. Like Napoleon, you just shrug and move on to ruin another country. Till you reach Russia. Then you get down on one knee and propose.
You’ve married your Waterloo. You’re listening to her gargle.
You’ve found your weirdo.
As you may know, the comments that follow my Facebook posts are as good or better than the posts themselves. My latest book “Lavender in Your Lemonade” sprang from those comments. The book is not just a reflection of what we’ve been through lately but also a tribute to the resilience and humor of all of you. For info, please click here. Meanwhile, have a wonderful weekend. See you in the shady spots. Cheers (and thanks)