02 June 2009

Team Small Dog is not now and has never been, manic.

The lady looks like me, but with black hair. She has a little tan dog, sort of Otterpop and Ruby type. He's running wild with Gustavo and I'm keeping my distance. She looks nice enough, probably not crazy, but I'm just standing over there and squinting at the horizon line across the Pacific. Gustavo and her dog are ripping up and down the beach. She inches her way closer to my way and I know it's inevitable.

GodDAMN, doesn't KILL you to talk to humans sometimes.

"What kind of dog is that?" Her hair is in one braid, mine's in two. She has on shorts and a blue men's jacket like the one I always wear. We're the same height and probably wear the same pants size. Clearly the same taste in dogs.

"I dunno. Just a little fast black dog." Usual answer. Short, simple sentences. A lot of words with strangers makes everything way too complicated. By the end of the day, I already spent my talking to humans coupons.

"Maybe he's a schipperke? Or chihuahua. Definitely chihuahua. Or border collie? Look at him run! Definitely chihuahua. Or border collie. Runs like a chihuahua. And a border collie. Could he be a Boston terrier? My dog's from Merced. They pull the small dogs out of those shelters out there and bring them here. Got him at the shelter. Border collie, hey he runs like a border collie. What is he?"

She's not exactly, just chatty. More like posessed. I sort of nod and smile and mumble my usual answers when she stops. My answers are boring and dumb. "I dunno. Just a dog."

"I got my dog when I was manic. I used to be manic and I was in an emotional state, and you know, that's not a good time to get a dog. Because when I got my old dog I didn't even know and I didn't think to check his teeth and his teeth were so bad he died in 3 weeks. I had the dog 3 weeks and the teeth made him die and so I learned when you're in an emotional state to not get a dog and even though I got him I made sure to check his teeth. You checked his teeth right?

The dogs have run in now, to where she's crouched on the filthy sand. Mitchell's. The beach that smells like sewage. Shit beach. Covered in rotten seaweed.

Gustavo loves all people, and has no shyness about climbing on to a perfect stranger's chest to lick them in the face. She holds on to him, and looks in his skinny little mouth.

"You checked his teeth right? Have you seen his teeth? I went to the VCA and it was $285 for the whole teeth cleaning and I have pet insurance and you better take a look at his teeth because you know, it can kill them. The pet insurance makes it not so bad. I think the premiums are $25 and there's coverage for wellness and (something something all these numbers she's rattling off and I'm watching the pelican) It's expensive though, but you don't want them to die. You know, I get this newsletter from this Boston terrier lady and she was just recommending this supplement. You know, to build calcium for their teeth? I forget what it is. Like vitamins? It would probably help him. I just heard about it. You might like that newsletter."

I'm exhausted from listening to her. I thank her, without really opening my mouth. Then smile. Goddamn. You're supposed to smile at people. Can she see my fake tooth? She's still talking.

I start to explain the thing about he probably had distemper as a puppy. Crappy, rotten teeth with no enamel. But all of a sudden, it seems really complicated and too hard to explain. So I stop.

She has a moustache. I think she's still talking.

Me and the dogs prefer to walk around in the closed off parts of the day. Land of the lost. No one around. Not that I especially want to be invisible, but it's preferable to be where things are abandoned, the people erased. The part of the day where the sky is gray, and maybe you see the one legged guy emptying aluminum into his hefty bag, or a beanie guy with ragged face on his cruiser, wearing ugg boots and riding by slowly, drinking a beer. There's some houses around that are empty, and some days I like to walk by and look in their windows. Just to see the spaces filled with air.

My mom is reading a book that explains the difference between introverts and extroverts. She's learning what everybody is now.

So I'm telling this to Gary, who has like, no friends. Because he just might be an introvert.

"My mom says I'm an introvert. You too. And her."

He's all, "How does she know this?"

"She's reading this book that tells you. Right? Doesn't that make sense? Remember how I was just wishing that the whole population of Santa Cruz County just vanished?*"

He's all, "Uh, I think that's different than introvert. Doesn't that count as anti-social behavior?"

"Oh." I have to think for a minute. Yeah, it's possible sometimes I'm anti-social.

But also part of the time, I am like super nice! Bubbly! Friendly and helpful! Glinda the good witch floating in her magic bubble.

I don't want anyone dead. I'm pretty sure that would be anti-social. Don't want anyone messed up. Just invisible. And I'm not going to, like, DO this. Not a unibomber. Not a columbine. I just like to imagine the landscape how it looked before there were houses on every spot. When it was just land, with dirt and brush and trees here and there. When it was quiet. I like people just fine, but a lot of the time I don't want to see them. Like at work, and at dog agility, I'm totally ok with people. I like all my friends. Just sometimes, I need breaks where no one's around.

I was in the forest this morning, walking around by the spring on the side of the hill. It was cold, and damp, and a good day to just stay a little longer in the woods. From up top, above us, we heard the voices of a couple of hiker guys. I ducked down behind an old, burned out redwood stump, to see if they were coming down or continuing on the trail above us. Me and the dogs had crossed the creek on a skinny log, and were just walking around where it's ferns and mud, looking for sinkholes and slugs. Not really looking hard, mostly meandering to give Otterpop and Gustavo time to run up and down the slope.

The guys had walking sticks and little backpacks and were carrying water bottles. I could see them good, and I hoped they couldn't see me, down the hill, behind the stump. They have on gear. I was wearing navy blue slip on vans and a skirt and my legs were all covered in dirt. The dogs heard them, and we all stood very still for a little bit. All of us, behind that stump, staring up the hill and watching.

We're eavesdropping, and the hikers had never been up there, and they hadn't seen the spring box that has the fish in it. It's a big stone box that the spring fills and it's full of forest gold fish. People must dump them there and they grow to the size of slices of ham, in that cold spring water under the redwoods. Gustavo fell in already this morning, running too fast and didn't make it to the edge for a landing in time and just skimmed right in and had to swim out. He does that sometimes. Usually, no one else is up there. They're just a couple guys, talking too loud.

When their voices faded, we all hiked back up the slope to where they'd been. I sent the dogs up ahead of me with their, "Go Go Go" words from agility, which means run fast out in front of me as far as you can. It works in the forest too. I figured, the guys still up there, they could just see the trio of forest creatures go ripping by. I'd be way in the back, still behind the trees. Gustavo, he's all wet and covered in slime and redwood tree sticks, the other dogs are just dirty. They look like a pack of mud foxes. As they fly up the slope, the only sound they make now is the sound of thundering, tiny paw prints, pounding on the dirt. The hikers, they were gone, coast was clear. So I just let the dogs keep running as fast as they needed to and we made our way back out to the meadow.

1 comment:

Cedarfield said...

Yup, you're an introvert. Nothing wrong with that, either. We introverts are very friendly people but we need to replenish our souls in the quiet woods--not in the noisy, crowded towns.