A Final Sunday in the Salon

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You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.
Robert Louis Stevenson

I have an incredible love of all kinds of animals. My favorite however, is the dog. Doesn’t matter what kind, I become a complete fool when one or fifteen of them cross my path. I think the best kind of therapy is laying down in a pile of puppies and having them kiss my cheeks, hair, nose, etc. I sing to them, coo, pet, and hold them too.

A few years ago, I decided it was time for me to get a second job. I work full-time as an office manager at a major university, but the kids were grown and we were in debt. I came home one night and told Roger that was it, I was going to get a job at a pet store. I applied at Petco in Ann Arbor. Derry, a terrific assistant manager hired me almost immediately after my initial interview. I worked  for almost a year as a cashier and customer service.

I was able to move to the grooming salon almost a year after my initial hire date. There, I bathed and brushed dogs. Did nail trims, cleaned ears, brushed teeth, and received so many kisses, I’d lost count. I was also bitten, pooped and peed on. It didn’t matter though, I was so damn happy. Blissful even. I got to sing to doggies. Give baths to, brush them and love on them too.

It came to a point that working two jobs was too much. I quit Petco in mid August of 2012. I not only left behind my bliss, but I left my friends. Really, they were my other family and my children. I missed them every damn day. We would chat and plan on getting together, but it didn’t happen, much. Our lives were busy, and I was writing all the time.

I spoke with Brittany in December and told her I was thinking about coming back on Sundays. I did just that in January. Maddie, Matt, and Gabe welcomed me back with open arms. Maddie made the comment that our team was finally complete again. I also got the chance to work with Cavan. Talk about another one of my peeps that was a damn hoot. I was so damn happy. Tired, but happy.

A couple of Sundays ago, I had a severe allergic reaction to a Golden Retriever. My bronchi became inflamed, my throat began to close, I lost my breath and couldn’t speak. I turned a lovely shade of blue. If I hadn’t been smart and stayed calm, I might have suffocated myself. I ran outside while Cavan saved me by getting me some Benadryl. I’m sure I needed an epi-pen too.

The medicine started to work and I could finally take in air into my lungs, and my voice came back a tad. Maddie, Matt, Gabe and Cavan made sure that I was okay to drive and I headed home. Once there, Roger gave me another Benadryl and we sat and chatted. After a few minutes, I was stoned on antihistamines. I crawled into bed and slept till 6:00 the next morning.

Suffice to say, I had to quit. Brittany, who is now our grooming salon manager, was crushed. So was my Sunday crew. I can’t chance losing my breath, consciousness, or life. I do believe it was a blessing in disguise. God was trying to tell me to close a chapter and start another.

To get that damn book written. The stories are here. Time to find the best ones, revise, edit, compile and send to my editor. My darling t.

I love you Maddie, Matt, Gabe and Cavan. You’ve no idea how you’ve enriched my lives. You’ve made me laugh and cry. My life is better because all of you are in it. I will never forget any of you. And I know you’ll never forget me. EAT THE KITTY!

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It Feels Like Home to Me

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If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and,

prospectively, to equally profound sadness.-Marjorie Garber

I stood in front of the large metal sink and giggled to myself. Ozzy, the Golden Retriever waited expectantly for me to start dousing him with warm water.

“Oh aren’t you a little sweetie pie. I just love you,” I said in a soothing tone as I patted his muzzle.

In response, he snuggled my cheek and gave me a quick lick with his tongue. My heart melted. As I sprayed him with the directional nozzle, I thought about the last six months. I’d had every weekend off, but I didn’t feel complete. I missed my Salon Bitches. I missed the barking dogs. The nail clippings, the baths, the smells, and even the occasional nip by the anxious and scared puppy.

I missed being doused with water and the exhaustion that came with heaving dogs up and down from the grooming table. I missed seeing the end result of the bathing process. My dogs are divas when they prance out to their pet parents. They know they look good.

I missed Marlena, Clara,  Humphrey, and Clark. My life wasn’t complete without them. They are my other children.

Marlena had just given Clark a Mohawk. He looked so damn handsome. I placed my arms around him and braced myself. I knew his hug would be fierce. It was as I expected. Intense; warm.

Marlena and I shared secrets and tears. God, how I missed her warm embrace and the sweetness of her heart.

Clara walked in and started dancing around and giving me precious hugs. Her blonde hair is finally shoulder length. She is more beautiful than I remember.

Humphrey came in not much later and gave me hugs and dry humps. He yelled, “Don’t you ever leave us again, you whore.” I responded, “I promise I won’t. As long as you keep calling me a whore, ya slut.”

There were nails  to trim. Stories to tell. Lives to catch up on. Dogs to wash. Ears to clean. Gossip to share. Hair clippings to be swept up. Hearts to mend…

During the course of the day I silently observed Marlena, Clara and Humphrey. I wondered how I could have stayed away. I belonged here.

I finished washing Ozzy. Taking care to cover his eyes when I was rinsing his head. Then I expertly dried him with the high velocity blow dryer. By the time Ozzy was dry, I looked like an 80’s hair metal god. I removed him from the tub and walked him to his condo, set the floor dryer on high and headed back out to the salon.

Marlena made the comment, “Our Sundays are complete again.”

I agreed with her and screamed my trademark line,  “Eat the kitty. Eat it! Eat it!” I made a V with my fingers and stuck my tongue through it.

My friends lost their minds,  and so did I.

I finally felt complete. Like I was home.

 

The Sun was a Butter Yellow

Melinda, a young momma stands on her cement porch, with clothes basket in hand.  The air is warm and the sun a butter yellow. Jack and Lisa, her little ones are running around the backyard. Heading to their swing set and jungle gym. Max, their crazy Jack Russell is running right behind them. He’s snapping at the air trying to catch flies. He’s yapping so loudly that he’s disturbing the flies, making them buzz around his head. Melinda stares at the dog and wonders if he’ll die of a heart attack, he’s riggling around so much.

She walks down the steps and heads to the clothesline. She breathes in the smell of fresh laundry and Springtime. As she begins pinning the bed sheets to the line, she watches her children play with Max, the wonder pup. They are chasing him around with cheap pinwheels that she bought them at the dollar store. The wheels are spinning as they run. The colors of them blur with their motions. The trip to the dollar store was a necessity, to pick up laundry soap and fabric softener. Of course she had to placate her 7 and 9 year old with cheap plastic toys. Now they’re terrorizing the dog with them.

Melinda yells, “Hey you two, knock off banging on the dog with the pin wheels!”

Jack and Lisa look at her with faces of complete innocence. She just shakes her head and smiles. The kids continue to play with Max. Melinda hangs up her husband’s t-shirts and some of his jeans. Ah Troy, what a good man. She hold his shirt to her nose and breathes in the aroma of Gain detergent and Snuggle fabric softener. She wishes she could still smell him on the fabric though. She sighs and pins the shirt to the line. Just then the kids start running through the clothes line. With the dog!

Once again Melinda yells, “Get out of the clothesline. The clothes are clean and I want them to stay that way.”

The kids keep running through the newly hung laundry. Laughing, with Max trailing behind them.

They scream, “Mom, come run with us!”

Melinda laughs and starts to chase them. They weave their way around the sweet smelling laundry. Hair flying wildly in the warm breeze. Max is crazily chasing after them. Still snapping at the air to catch flies.

The kids and Melinda plop down on the ground under the clothes line. They are still laughing and carrying on. The rest of the household chores forgotten for a few minutes. They lay next to each other and look up at the clouds.

Melinda points to one and says, “I see an elephant.”

Jack says, “No Momma, it’s a rhino.”

Lisa replies, “You’re both wrong. It’s a hippo!”

Max wanders over to Melinda. Sniffs her hair and face. He settles next to her, and lays his chin on his paws. He’s still panting from his meanderings.

Troy, Melinda’s husband comes home from work to find his family laying under the clothesline. In the sun, giggling and talking. He sets down his briefcase and takes off his suit jacket. Then wanders out to where his family is and lays down next to his wife. She grabs his hand and leans her head on his shoulder.

Melinda says to Troy as she points to the cloud above them, “What do you think that cloud looks like? We’ve decided it’s an elephant, rhino and a hippo.”

Troy kisses Melinda’s forehead and replies, “Why can’t it be all three?”

Jack sits up and says, “Dad how can it be all three? It can’t be an elerihinhippo!”

Troy looks at Jack and says, “Son, that’s exactly what it is!”

Lisa sighs and says, “Daddy, you are way too silly.”

Melinda grabs Troy’s hand and squeezes it. She gazes at the sky, breathes in the fresh air and laundry. She knows that life can’t possibly get any better than this.

Feral

She awakens ready to hunt. As she rises, she feels the loose pine needles dig into her hands and feet. Her nostrils take in the scent of prey. And him. She stands up completely unaware of her nakedness. All she cares about is finding food. And feeding her other, hunger. She runs on feet hardened by the elements. There is no pain felt as she makes her way over rocks and sticks in her path. She is agile, strong and wild in her beauty. She stops, lifts her head, and sniffs the air. There is the scent of rabbit. It is close by. But the draw of his scent is more powerful than her need for sustenance. She continues to run. Her dark hair is strung with leaves, snarls, and twigs. Her blue eyes vibrant, even in the moonlight. Her hands, arms and legs move to push her further; faster.

There he is in her path. The ONE. He is standing there, blonde, brown eyed, and naked. She wants to devour him. For she is starving. But not for food.  There’s a need for touch, want, release. He runs to her. She to him. They pounce. Kiss, lick, bite, and taste. Their coupling is urgent and extreme. They grasp at each other to hold onto the moment for they know it’ll be over too soon. They can’t stay in one place for long or they will become the hunted. Out in this wild world where it is kill or be killed.

After their desire is sated, it is time to feed. With the moon shining above them, they stand and look at one another. He shakes his blonde head at her. She touches his face. They turn and begin to run. Together they will satisfy their need for food. Then feast on each other. Again.