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.

 

Sundays in the Grooming Salon-Revisited

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. -Ben Williams

Today I’m quite emotional, but when am I not? I have to say goodbye to my second home. To a job I love. And to people that I think of as my children.  They are my confidants, and my friends too. But they are ultimately my “other” children. They complete me. I know this post is lengthy, but it has to be to explain how I feel for each one of salon bitches.

Lucy: She was the first one I fell in love with. She was cranky, snarky and dramatic. Such a brat, but so damn funny. I found the more I got to know her the more I loved her. She is a lovely Goth girl. Her hair color changes with the phases of the moon. Her dark eyebrows made darker with kohl pencil. Her lips red and full. A Medusa piercing above her lip and one in her nose. Her ears are gauged, but I don’t really notice the holes anymore, because all I see when I look at her are her eyes. Her eyes are the color of midnight. Her laugh is a symphony and her dirty whorish mouth, music to my ears. We have often said to each other we wish we could find a time machine. One that would take me back to her age, or bring her forward to mine. She is me and I am her. We’re twins even though we look nothing alike and we have a 20 year age difference. If I was her age, I would be exactly like her. I AM her but older and blonder.

Marlena: She is my Goth goddess. Her painted on eyebrows and curvy body are to die for. She has a wicked laugh and an arch to her eyebrow that would make you melt. She is provocative and wickedly funny. She and I have issues with ourselves. With our fears, passions and emotions. For some reason we get each other, even when no one else understands us. The first time I met her, her hair was the color of a Beta Fish, vibrant blue, and a shocking magenta. I commented on it immediately. We barely knew each other then but I liked her instantly. We have become close like sisters. She told me recently I am like a mother to her. I replied, Honey, here, I am your mother. She smiled and said, Yes, yes you are. I love her and I know that she will find her way in this life. Though I may not be right beside her every step of the way, she will make sure to keep in contact to share her joys and sadness with me.

Betty: She is like a young child when you see her. You think she is all of 17. She is tiny but full of life. A beauty. Slender, with gorgeous blue eyes. A smile that lights up a room. I love to watch her groom a dog. The loving care she gives to each one of her dogs amazes me. She told me she loved me as she was finishing her shift last Thursday and I burst into tears. She is the one that I’ve most recently gotten to know. I still want to know more about her. Talk to her about her writing. She’s a poet, and she has carried life inside of her too. She is a good momma. Her baby boy goes with her everywhere. Says her life wasn’t complete until he was born. I will miss her smiling eyes and wicked grin. The way she loves animals and focuses solely on them when she’s in the “zone”.  I will miss her so.

Clara: She’s the happiest, earthiest little hippie Goth I know. She’s a little bit of German dynamite. I’ve told her on more than one occasion to come live with me. I’d be happy to take care of her. Her eyes are like that of a cat. Their color I can’t even describe. They are more yellow than hazel. Her hair is the color of wheat ready for harvest. She talks a mile a minute but you understand every word. She is tatted and gorgeous. She wears her art with pride. She is an artist in her own right. She is designing a spine piece for me. I can’t wait to see it! She and I sang the Making Christmas song from that movie during the holidays. La, la, la, la. She is an earth girl and loves to camp. I look at her like she’s crazy. I ask her, why the hell do you want to sleep outside. She said, there is no better peace than lying on the ground, looking up and seeing the stars. Plus her boyfriend is probably in the sleeping bag with her so that makes it even better. I’m sure we’ll go see Joey our tattoo artist sometime. Hang out and flirt with him. Or go to Factory Night at Necto.

Rock: What to say about Rock. He’s a tall blonde god, with blue eyes I could swim in. His hugs are beyond compare. He’s funny and makes me laugh so hard I become weak and I ache all over. He was one of the first employees I took a shine to. He let me in and we became fast friends. I screamed when he showed me an old picture of me on his phone recently. It was from before I started my weight loss program. He says he looked at it and was shocked. Said he never thought of me as overweight. He just saw my beautiful face. I love him like he’s my own. He is, essentially. He really is one of mine. I love that he gets me, even though I’m old enough to be his mother. He never lets me get away with doing all the work. Oh and he calls me a whore all the damn time. Some would say that’s disrespectful, but for me I find it fucking hilarious! I make sure to say something filthy to prove to him that I kinda am. I miss him already.

Renaissance Girl: When my husband first saw her, he said she was a cutie. He wasn’t lying. She is a gor-geous! After some of our conversations, I tell her she is just like me when I was young. I told her, see you don’t have to change as you get older. You can still be a potty mouth. You can still be loud, gregarious, outgoing, smiley and funny. She and I have shared some wild stories. We’ve motivated each other to take of our bodies. To get healthy and nurture ourselves positively. She is young, exuberant and kinda jaded. I will miss her smile, and the fact that she makes me feel young.

Holly: How do I describe Holly? She’s a firecracker. Smart, loud, funny. We are so much alike. We are the same age. Born days apart. Adopted. We love the same music. Have a propensity to be a bit mouthy and say the word, fuck. We have past loves that still devastate us when we recall and share the memories. We love our lives but strive for more. More life, more time, more love. She is tough. I believe she could kick my ass. I don’t ever want to chance finding out if she can. I love her and I will miss her. She was the one that wanted me to work with her. She’s proud of the work I do. I’m proud to call her my friend.

Today as I leave, I will take with me the scent of dirty dog, their hair, their slobber on my chin from kisses and maybe even a bite or scratch. I will also take with me love, hugs, kisses, and terrific memories of those that I’ve worked with and come to love. Though I walk out that door, I know I will see them all again. They will still be a part of my life. I will miss my Sundays in the salon though. My Sundays will never be the same. I will miss them them with all my heart.