Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The lovely wife is now walking dogs with me.   We rise.  We get the chip off the old block son off to school which is like dragging a burro out of a barn and now, because she feels that Juneau, the canine horse collar and Mully, the canine garbage disposal, also deserve exercise, she’s decided to come with me when I walk the idiot doodles. 

She considers it a date.  

A date means I’m expected, not unreasonably, to engage  in human interaction.  And so, while my mind, as usual, careens around the video arcade that is my brain pan –

- do NFL players actually enjoy beating the shit out of one another? --- why do we consistently spend more than I make? – why do I find my reflection in the screen of my Kindle so disconcerting as it boots up? – as I approach sixty why am I still getting skid marks in my underwear -- – why is that dog pushing a large rock across the field with its head?–

- the lovely wife chats and I pretend to listen.  And because she’s smart and knows me well, every so often she’ll suddenly turn to me and say – you’re not paying attention, are you – of course, I am, I’ll say – what did I just say, she’ll say –

And because I have this weird ability to remember words  but not their meaning – probably developed during college years when I’d cram for a test two hours before taking it and then to the fury of my roommates, pass it – I’ll recite not just the last thing she said but the last three things she said.

She will still be suspicious.  As mentioned, she knows me too well.  She knows I have the ability to be present but not present at all.  

Walking with her is a challenge in that I walk fast and she walks slow.  I walk to get it over with, she walks to enjoy it.  The lovely wife is consistently in the moment.   I’m either brooding about my past or being anxious about my future. 

On a walk, I yell at the idiot dogs to bring them to order.  She coos at them.  I find it annoying that they listen to her.   

On a walk, I am oblivious to physical space.  More than once I have almost hip-checked her into the bushes.    You must have been a heck of an actor, she’ll say.  I was never an actor, I’ll tell her, I was a star.   

As a star, I also find it annoying that the lovely wife expects me to clean the dog’s feet when we get home.  I am used to throwing towels on the floor and books on the furniture and then ignoring them, my duty done.   She wants doggie feet hosed and towel dried.

She doesn’t seem to realize that I have work to do, things to read, brilliant things to write.   She’s proud of what I do but still, she often seems to feel that I procrastinate for a living.   She doesn’t understand that when she comes into my office and the TV is on and I’m watching the tennis channel, I’m actually filling my creative tank.   You must be running on empty, she’ll say.

Like I said, she knows me too well.

But back to the dog pushing the rock across the field with its head.  The dog is a bull mastiff named Daisy.  She is 90 pounds of solid muscle.  Her head is as big as a basketball.  Her owner tells me that she is pushing this enormous rock around the field with her head because she likes to.   Some dogs fetch, she pushes mini-boulders.  She especially likes it when there’s a hill to push it up.  That way when she gets to the top – oh, joy! - it will tumble back down again.  And then she can push it up again.  And so on.  And so forth.

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a trickster punished by the gods to do the same thing - roll a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down.  He had to repeat this throughout eternity.

Sisyphus, philosophers will tell you, is a metaphor for man’s existence.   You push the rock, you push the rock and just when you think you have it where you want, it fools you and rolls again.

Like Daisy, all you can do is use your head and enjoy it.

I enjoy it.

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