Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Lady and Her Dog

I spent the weekend with 2,200 people at a convention of sorts, though not really.

Back when I lived in Miami I was a member of the convening organization and met a number of good friends who I lost track of after moving to Atlanta and lapsing my membership. Last December, on a whim, I rejoined and looked up names from the past, learning that several of my old friends were still members. Over a series of Emails back and forth, I got roped into going to the convention this last weekend.

I don’t like crowds and speakers and presentations and hospitality rooms and bad banquet food; and, I found all of them over the weekend. But I also reconnected with my friends from Miami.

You know you have a friend when you start a conversation a couple of decades removed pretty much like you would have a day or so after you had last been with the person.

For purposes of this post I’ll skip my male friend, though he’s a post in himself, and focus on my female friend. The inner her hasn’t changed a bit. The outer her has changed. I’m not talking about the changes you might think. About three years ago she lost most of her sight, she’s legally blind. She can read 120 point type and “sees” blobs where people and things are.

I’m going to fake blindness and get a service dog. They’re chick magnets. Over the weekend I walked her dog a lot. I don’t get attention. This weekend I did, even when I was alone. “Where’s the dog?” Too, it’s been sometime since I’ve spent time with a dog. I grew up with them, black labs. My new friend from the weekend is a yellow lab and she is smart as hell.

When she has the “handle” on she is working. With it off and only wearing a leash, she is off duty; but, at first she still worked. She stopped at the curb. If there were people obstructing our path, she stopped. By about the third walk, all we had to deal with was accommodating the difference in my and her owner’s pace, something we never quite achieved as I walk quite a bit faster and since she was off duty, she felt it her right to wander and sniff as she liked. I knew we had bonded when we had returned to her mom, she greeted her and moved back to me and settled in next to my leg. Kind of nice, though I drew the line at getting kisses.

Moving on, there’s a sea of kindness and indifference in the world. For the most part, as my friend and I walked with the dog, as my friend put it, “I’m Moses parting the waters.” Even at the last minute, people moved quickly aside as the saw her and the dog and we flowed through the masses. Then there were those that would look right at her and her dog and cut a foot in front of her forcing the dog to pull back. They didn’t see or didn’t care when they saw my “you #%%(+@!” look.

There’s some ignorance too, though that’s not the right word. We sat at a table at one of the banquets. The server had seen the dog. She asked me if I would like coffee and I said yes. “Would she like coffee too?” My friend smiled. I said “I don’t know, Susie*, would you like coffee?” It turned out she would enjoy a cup of coffee and told the server. As she sensed the server leaving she said, don’t worry it happens a lot.

I might do another post about Susie* and some of our other adventures over the weekend; but, I’m still digesting the grace, equanimity and plain determination that has allowed her to be no different than the woman I knew a couple of decades ago.

(*I told Susie I might do a post and she asked that I not use her name. I hope I picked a name she hates.)


Big Mark 243 said...

First, the entire post was way cool.

I spent a good chunk of time catching up with a friend from the Army who I haden't seen in over twenty years. She hadn't undergone any 'grand' changes other than dying her brunette blond, but we picked right up and even made a go of a relationship.

It didn't work out but that was due to some 'technical difficulties' in my life that required I return home to handle them. Now that I have gotten them under control, I have been thinking that... well, no never mind about that.

Some people are plain old mean. Trying to trip and obstruct a working dog. Prolly jealous that they can't seem to manage a full life without having such a challenge.

Oh, and me and the SFC, we too picked right up as if we had been chatting like we were back in our unit.

I miss her deeply.

Dave said...

Mark, though I wouldn't take the following advice, me being me, don't "no never mind about that." Look into that.

Seth Lefkow said...

You refer to me as a post. Demeaning. Absurd.
I am not a "post". I am a pillar.

pil-lar: a person of central importance or responsibility. Thus sayeth Noah Webster.

Seth Lefkow said...

Nice post. I don't read (m)any but if they're all like yours, I'll read more.

Dave said...

Post, pillar, whatever. I'll get to you, be patient.

BigJ said...

Hi Dave, this was a fun read.

Dave said...

Thanks J.