Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One Really Stupid Leap of Faith

The forecast for Saturday was mostly miserable to intermittently scary. Living in the South in the springtime, you learn that the weather is a crap shoot at best. You’ll wake up one morning to nearly freezing temperatures, and the next day the thermostat is hovering somewhere in the upper eighties, and you’re digging out your tank top. The storms are nothing to balk at around here either, as the seasons are jockeying for position while spewing tornadoes and hail. With the day sure to be a total wash, I could have opted for curling up on the sofa with a good book, or maybe even settling in with the Lifetime network and their down-on-her-luck-single-mom-finds-love marathon, but I decided that a rainy day would be perfect for changing my daughter’s pink room to purple because sitting in a recliner and resting is so over-rated.

Painting at my house is an exercise in patience for me. My six-year-old daughter was put on this Earth to be Mommy’s Helper. This is so wonderful if you are a good-hearted, nurturing mother who cherishes every moment watching a child undo the entire sink cleaning/laundry folding/floor sweeping you’ve just spent your precious Facebook time finishing. However, if you are a hard-ass control freak who thinks no one can do the job better than you *ahem* -like I am - then you aren’t surprised that I routinely tell her, “Why don’t you run and see if Daddy needs help with anything.” The mere mention that painting was about to commence had her giddy with anticipation, so I left my husband in charge of turning a pink room purple, and dealing with a first grader who would surely make this already cumbersome task an all day event. And, what was my job you ask? I assigned myself to window duty, and, as usual, I sucked at even the most elementary task.

I have this thing about fresh air. I love it. Living in the armpit of America means that our homes are hermetically sealed nine months out of the year to keep the heat and humidity from smothering us all to a slow, painful death. Even though we had storms passing through all day, the temperature was in the sixties with a sustained wind of twenty miles per hour, so that meant each time the rain tapered off, I would dash around to all of our second floor windows and throw them open to let the stiff breeze carry away any left over winter funk and paint fumes. There are a couple of drawbacks, though. We don’t have screens on the front of our house, so bugs are sometimes an issue, but even worse than an insect invading our home is the fact that we have three very stupid dogs who hate us…and who aren’t afraid of heights.

The painting went amazingly well. By late afternoon the room was dry, completely re-assembled, and the storms had moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. Finally, the sun was shining, the wind was ruffling the curtains, our kids were playing, and I was reveling in the successful delegation of a room makeover and the leftover sweet smell of April rain. Then, there was a knock at the door. My husband opened it to find our neighbor standing there with a dog…OUR dog. My first thought was that the strong wind and storms blew open our gate, enticing this ungrateful, mange-y mutt to run away. But, wait – the dogs hadn’t even been outside because they are diametrically opposed to relieving themselves when the ground is wet and muddy, lest they get their precious paws damp. (Yet, they’ll eat cat poop and drink scummy pond water.) So….huh? How did he get out?

What we didn’t know was that all afternoon, Benji Houdini had been hatching a plan. My daughter’s bedroom is directly over a bay window. To a human, you look out and see a small stretch of roof covering the window below and the unforgiving sidewalk. To a nine-year-old dog with poor eyesight and an insatiable wanderlust, you see a platform for launching the next great doggy adventure. Our neighbor was on his bike in front of our house when he heard a loud scratching sound. He looked up just in time to see an old, brown down flying through the air from two stories up with all four legs outstretched Wile E. Coyote-off-a-cliff-style. Benji managed to cheat death by narrowly missing the concrete driveway and landing haphazardly on a bush. At first I thought he was the most ignorant dog to walk the planet, but then I realized that he picked the only window upstairs that, if you executed the jump correctly, would afford you the benefit of shrubbery to break your fall. Brilliant.

That dog sauntered into the house as if to say, “My plan would have worked if it weren’t for those meddling kids!” (Benji watches way too much “Scooby Doo” with my daughter.) I marched him upstairs for a stern talking to that he didn’t understand a word of, but it made ME feel better. Does he not appreciate that he has a warm, soft place to lay his dumb dog head each night? Shouldn’t he be grateful for regular meals and treats of peanut butter and leftovers from a little girl’s plate? How dare he insinuate that our home isn’t the canine equivalent to the freakin’ Taj Mahal by jumping out of the window? He let out a little sigh, jumped into the recliner and closed his eyes to plan the next great escape. I made sure every window was down and locked while shaking my head and cursing the fact that my silly dogs, like me sometimes, just don’t know how to count their blessings…


  1. Nice flying dog story…he could become a celebrity if you’d make him a doggie-sized hot air balloon.


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