Seriously the man put down his power tools and just listened . Actually he looked sort of like a fella having a conversation with an alien. The differences between our ages and our backgrounds is often a difficulty we are forced to acknowledge. Like all couples, sometimes those differences are the foundation of the attraction and equally often the foundation of fierce battles. When I or my siblings are speaking of our childhood, Blowfish is just incredulous at what he hears. Our history is so different from his. He will never understand Southern culture or accept the realities of being loyal to this culture. It's like the saying, "A Fish can love a Bird but where will they live?" Blowfish can never live where I do in spirit.
We are trying to re-train our dog Will to stay in our fenced side yard. It sounds simple doesn't it? That little rascal has for years been able to jump his way out of the yard which has a 6' high fence. We have lost him 3 times in 12 years. Once it took us 10 days of searching, flyers, newspaper ads, haunting the shelters and lots of walking, clapping and calling before the reunion. One year, when we were going to Mermaid's without Will, we sent him to the country to stay with a friend of Blowfish who raises and trains awesome hunting dogs. He has professional kennels with 8' fencing between the runs. Upon our return Brian mentioned we were lucky to still have a dog. We were then told every morning, when he came out to feed, Will was in a different run visiting with the occupant. ( He is very social ) "The thing is", said Brian, "that dog could have gone anywhere but he chose to stay. This here is a smart dog. Irritating. But smart. That's a busy road out there."
In our retraining program we put him out in the "dog yard" when we are home and mostly working outside. He protests. He is older now so he cannot just jump out which frustrates him. We are talking a big area, with both sun and shade, a long view of the roads in front and behind our property and a common fence with the beautiful Golden retriever girlfriend next door. There is fresh water, a doghouse with a surround mulched in cedar chips. He has access to part of the deck and can look into one of the garden room doors to keep an eye on things. He even has his very own box fan. Fwe dogs are this lucky but Will is an ingrate on this issue.
Seriously, none of this pleases him. None of it. So he complains . He does not bark, yip or yowl. He makes a terrible sound like a monkey having an anxiety attack. Repetitively. It is not a sound I can stand.
So when Will transforms into "Monkey Dog" one of us will admonish him to stop. Blowfish is largely ineffectual in this mission. Will might stop with the monkey chatter for ten or twelve seconds then it is right back to the horror noise.
On Sunday in desperation Blowfish said, "That dog is just like you, he never listens to me"
"Are you calling me a dog?"
"No, but you and that dog of yours are two of the stubbornest creatures on the planet."
"Did you lose your mirror?"
" You seem to have forgotten the true face of stubborn".
In the background the monkey chatter was escalating.
Blowfish said, " I am done with this, you make that dog shut the heck up".
I loathe it when Blowfish tries to order me to do a thing. Anything. But, I hate the monkey dog chatter worse. I am an alpha so out I went to Will where I made him sit, got his full attention and told him there would be no more monkey dogging. I take my alpha duties seriously. I believe in the intellect of animals and I absolutely believe in the importance of eye contact when communicating with other species. I told Will in my most stern Alpha dominating demeanor I hated monkeys and their chatter and that no monkey dog was welcome. Once I was sure he understood me I left him in the dog yard and returned to the gardening.
After a brief pause Blowfish said, "Why do you hate monkeys?"
"They are horrible creatures".
"Have you known many monkeys?"
"Two. Which to my thinking is two too many".
"Will is quiet"
"How do you do that?"
"Most animals understand intent. Well, except for monkeys."
" In the social South , Sundays were for calling or receiving. On a typical Sunday I would endure the tortures of the curly hair comb out, get beautifully dressed in itchy finery and be marched to Church where I was admonished to sit still, pay attention, not scratch from those itchy clothes and for God's sake this week not get sick or faint from the incense. After church it was off to Sunday Lunch either at the club or at a relatives or friends of my parents. There you had to be quiet, as in seen not heard, not itch, have manners and not spill anything. This sounds simple. But if you are seated at a linen draped table crowded with fine china, crystal, silver and mountains of food, perched on slippery phone books stacked on an armless chair one wrong move can create disaster. The worst Sundays were when we went to call on the parents of our mother's former beau. The one she was expected to marry before her whirlwind courtship and elopement with Dad. This couple referred to we kids as "the children" because our dad was the presumed reason they had no grandchildren. Instead they had a monkey. When we came calling they always wanted to have us interact with the monkey. They even would pose us for pictures with the thing. Seriously Blowfish, you have no idea how hard it is to smile while you are suffering from a food overdose, wearing starched itchy clothes while a long tailed rat like thing in clothes sits on your shoulder, picks trough your hair and breathes on you."
I pretty much said all of that run together. Like one sentence, without pause and maybe without taking a breath. Blowfish had that look of incredulity he has every time I speak about my early life. I went on,
" On some of those visits our arrival would be the impetus for that monkey to go nuts. Careening around the room jumping from lamps to curtains, breaking treasures left and right all the while shrieking that monkey chatter at a level which made my ear drums vibrate. Do you know monkeys have fangs? And they hiss as well as chatter and shriek?
I guess to have our family invade it's normally quiet territory was a threat to that monkey. It certainly reverted to normal behavior for it's species. If those people had a lick of sense they would have put that monkey in a quiet safe place and would not have subjected it to the trauma of visitors.
I think having monkeys must have been in vogue for a while because one of my classmates also had a monkey. The Dad in that household was a mean, mean man. He said awful things to his wife and kids, and would kick a dog so hard it would go airborne. But he loved that monkey. He would sit in his dark, shuttered den stroking and sweet talking that monkey for hours. If any of us kids passed by the den that monkey would commence with the shrieking chatter and the man would go to yelling and threatening us. The thing was you could not get to the bathroom without passing the den and disturbing the monke. I liked my classmate but I loathed going to her house for a play date.
Did you not have Monkey Grinders on Staten Island? Funny men with accordions and monkeys on chains dressed liked Shriner's? Creepy. People would gather round the musician while the monkey would make it's way around the circle collecting tips. I don't know if it was because I was little or because my hair is curly or what but every monkey I ever encountered wanted to nest on my head. I hate the damn things. They seriously creep me out."
Blowfish looked like he had been frozen in amber he was so still and quiet.
After a pause he said, " Fishy, one day you have got to write down all these memories".
" Why? No one would read them. I am pretty sure they are selling more copies of Hunger Games than Little Women. People like to look forward more than they like to look back. Not to mention I am a designer not a writer "
" You write a blog"
" I've been a right serious slacker on that front lately"
" Blog about the monkeys".
" Blowfish, no one wants to read about our conversation on a Sunday afternoon."
" This is more than a conversation. Write about the monkeys."
" Mermaid agrees with me. We think there is more we do not than do know about you. We have had conversations on this after reading one of your blogs. Mermaid will call and say, OMG Dad, did you know this about Mama? We often are amazed by the things we have learned about you. You tell the blog world, not us"
" Well, I've told you about the monkeys."
" Blog it"
Mermaid, do you care why I don't like monkeys?