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Sixty-Second Sitting

This is what It looked like: China was running up and down the length of the pen barking powerfully at everyone and no one in particular, asserting her mastery but avoiding the people that it entitled her to. Lucy and Brandy were gathered around Her, being affectionate in the best ways they knew how, which in Brandy's case entailed repeatedly trying to jump up at Her face even though She was kneeling within easy reach. Queen was leaning flush against the fence that separated us, coming as close as she could to purring as I scritched her absent-mindedly with two fingers sticking through the mesh. Buster was visible within his DOG house looking meek and slightly shivering, and Buffy was creeping up upon Her from behind to sniff without being noticed (and so threatened). Bear was barking with a viscous, jealous excitement from the "airlock," and outside Teddy Bear, Gorbachev, Samantha, Coyote, and Sonny watched with interest, which for them doesn't entail "watching" so much as running around making noise. When Brandy scratched Her face, I moved in to protect... just a tiny scratch on Her lower lip. I mentally kissed it (I do everything mentally, or have you noticed?) to make it better ("A sure method, when regularly applied, to increase the chance of infection," She said once.) I just... Ah! Tension was and is building, I tell not show, and I dread writing through these times as much as I dreaded living them, for My last hold on them of this particular sort will be gone... unless I go back and edit every once and a while for the rest of My life... I don't know if I've ever heard of anyone getting addicted to therapy...

I said goodbye one by one to the DOGgies. China wouldn't look Me in the eye, but I caught her and petted her anyway. Buster seemed too messed up to even care about getting attention anymore. Buffy still wouldn't let Me get near Her; any advances I had made in this respect weren't in evidence now. I hadn't really gotten to know Lucy Lou or Brandy well enough for them to be distracted from Her for more than a few seconds. But goodbye, My Queenie! Goodbye, poor evil Bear with stitches in Your Head. And grody ole Teddy Bear, and Sonny, you big wus, and wise though indifferent Mr. Coyote -- write a book sometime, good man, and I will proofread it for you... Goodbye Gorby and Sam, alike in all respects except the color of your fur and the fact that one of you is completely affectionate towards Me while the other is afraid. I had seen Duke earlier that day, and so wasn't devastated that he wasn't around to see me off, and of course I would sort of like to see Louie shot, but I was sad at Sugar Dee's absence, at not being able to say goodbye... which does haunt Me, at least in that I had a dream last night that I adopted Sugar Dee and took her to a farm where there were two other DOGS that looked just like her and could actually run her speed... Awww... I didn't know at the time that earlier that evening a couple from the local military base had stopped by and adopted both Sugar Dee and Duke, a fact that would later depress Her a great deal and spur Her to hound Zelma into finding the phone number of said couple, which was and still is lost somewhere in her apartment... there was hope of a reunion at one point, when the couple underwent marital strife, and the female called up to say that she was bringing the DOGS back, but alas, no one showed up at the arranged time, and Zelma still couldn't find the number...

...And now, as of last week, Bear is also gone, finally adopted by a (presumably) wonderful family. It's nice, but I hate to see Her lose Her friends. She did take Buffy for a run recently...

Oh, if this were Disney, all the goodbyes would be stretched out much more agonizingly than they are, but these DOGS didn't talk, and their eyes aren't nearly that big and round. If this were Shakespeare, or the Bible for that matter, all these DOGS would have to die. But I really couldn't afford to squander energy on such drama; everything was frankly getting rushed and neglected, not because there wasn't enough time, but because I was so preoccupied with the One I would miss most. I finished packing and made My nasty-fake-Oreo lunch. Las Vegas was watching Last of the Mohicans on the Magnavox, pausing every few seconds to scream out "I love this movie! It is so touching! And the cinematography is wonderful!" or somesuch, so We retreated into Her room.

I played Her a few final songs; We again talked about the future, and about how much this visit meant to Us, how beneficial it was. All these familiar themes came out a few new angles on them, as always; We never bore each other. As She looked away for a moment, I shoved the Spiderman Pez under Her pillow, but She saw clearly that I had done something... I made Her promise not to look until I was gone... a time bomb waiting, carefully calculated to win Her heart. And yes! I was getting hyperactive, and My terrible secret was slipping out in the form of the Spiderman theme song, which I sang lovingly to Her as I had at least one and a half times before... I was rapt with pure joy to stand in Her presence, especially since We were sitting, and was unable to keep My hands off Her -- they had to go somewhere! She described this later as the beginning of a phase of communication breakdown... understandable given that that particular world would be reduced to rubble in about two hours.

This is what it looked like: That part of Me that abstracts from past experiences demonstrating what I generally value, specifically in this case that I have a concern for the concerns of those that concern me, which means that I should promote their projects as My own, felt itself to be intact and generally in control, though the world was spinning a bit too quickly to really engage it... The part of Me that reacts to others with an "Awwww..." and so may induce behaviors that could be called sympathetic, dependent in its accuracy on the similarity between the Awww-inducing characteristic and the actual characteristics or stance of its possessor, was very keyed on to Her eyes -- and other parts of Her, catching it all in an Awww-inducing Gestalt that commanded Me to hug Her incessantly, and what could be wrong with that? My scheming libido was in overdrive mode as it frantically struggled with a fish that looked like it might soon get away, doing so by the sneaky, underhanded trick of endowing Me with a bottomless source of energy, and what could be better than more energy? The part of Me that actually understands Her, as much as anyone really can given the relative brevity of Our acquaintance, that can relate to Her via all Her extensive communications and a liberal application of and abstraction from My own experience, was in its DOG house looking meek and slightly shivering. The part of Me that revels in joyful sentimentality was bounding around in high spirits, but was in fact being used like a marionette by that part of Me that is desperately afraid of another six month bout with depression and the will to be dead.

Only inches away, sitting outside but breathing into this mass of pulsating psyche, was that part of Her analogous to the first-mentioned part of Me, but which tends to let fewer immediate considerations into its calculation, preferring to be guided more or less by whatever She had previously decided to do, which was in turn heavily rationalized by some fairly basic so-called ethical conceptions. This operation enabled it to perform much more smoothly, endowing it in this case with near-total control of at least Her overt movements, but left all the other many and various DOGS frothing away outside, sticking in a few fingers here and there, making Her a bit too slow to say "no," and generally getting increasingly worked up.

What resulted was best described as the machinations of two huge and ridiculously-complicated contraptions designed by someone who obviously had a good head on His shoulders, but who was nonetheless clearly insane. She emitted a calm, too calm, acceptance. He held up His crushing sentimentality by getting more weird than usual. She grew slightly annoyed at this. He responded by pushing further into overdrive (and ever so slightly beyond), using humor as a shield, batting repeatedly against Her and rehashing in more reckless forms all the overt mock-innuendoes about still having enough time to comfortably get to third base before take-off. Their eyes fixed on each other's, but not in the same places, choosing at one moment to contemplate where the pupil meets the iris on the top left when everybody knows the soul is behind the lower right part of the cornea, and then switching the next moment. We meant the words We said, about missing each other, and being freaked out, and hoping to stay in touch. We probably meant the things unsaid, too, but wouldn't have phrased them in exactly that way if given another chance. ...But then someone knocked over the pillow to reveal the Spiderman Pez, and this would have made things all better if She hadn't already repeatedly told Me that She hated that thing. We laughed anyway, hugging cluelessly in the midst of Our cluelessness.

We left in such a daze that I didn't even say goodbye to Her roommate, who had shut himself up in his room to contemplate cheese or something. I passed the DOGS again for a brief last snippet of a verse of a song to say goodbye, and loaded My heavy bags (now lightened by the stuff of Hers that I had brought up and left there) into the car. As We walked around Her building I muttered a few last words into My walkman, telling Her, of course, that I loved Her, just before the tape ran out. We drove in silence to the university where We knew that the bonfire-building contest was going on. As Her building faded from sight I felt My spirits slowly sink into an inexpressible something-or-other, which, naturally enough, I did not express to Her, as much as I wanted to. From there they checked the plane tickets, removed the tape from the walkman and set it upon the dash, and watched Her as She flipped Her turn signals, checked Her mirrors, and delicately applied the gas pedal.

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© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer [ Contents ]