It's been a week now since my wife left town. Marylou, always organized, shipped her shoes ahead in a big box and then hopped a flight to Houston. Her sister lives there. They were gonna go shopping. Probably for shoes.
My dog, Colby, and I are bachelors. We have been living on pizza and Beefaroni. Actually, we haven't eaten that much Beefaroni because the cooking process requires opening a can. Pizza just shows up at the door. The other night we watched Dawson's Creek. We sleep a lot.
We did have big plans. I was going to throw darts every night. On Saturday -- the one day that there's not a local shoot -- the plan was for Colby to have a bath. We were then going to hit the topless poodle bars. We blew this off though because Colby is nearly fifteen, which in dog years means he's older than dirt. He can't see or hear and occasionally he falls down for no reason when walking to his food bowl. What he is, basically, is a lean, mean, eatin' and excretin' machine. But I love him. I just don't think a sexy little poodle would.
So, we settled in for the long-haul. Two guys. No women. And darts.
I think the first day went well. I was stopped by the police for driving without lights when I left the Thursday night Luck of the Draw. But I passed the sobriety test and didn't get a ticket. When I arrived home I forgot to switch off the alarm but when the security place called I was able to remember the secret code. Colby and I ate pizza in bed. Screw dog food.
On Friday Colby had a little accident. I had to skip darts that night in order to go shopping for a new rug for the foyer. It's a really nice rug though, pretty much just like the antique one that my wife's mother gave us when we were married. Marylou will never know the difference unless she gets down on her knees, lifts the corner of the rug and smells the floor underneath.
Saturday was a complete bust. Colby and I took my car in for a tune-up and found out that it needed $1,300 worth of work. Something about a drive shaft. Colby thought the $26 taxi ride back home was pretty cool though.
The absence of wheels wiped out my plans to throw on Saturday and Sunday nights. Colby and I ordered pizza again both nights and stuffed ourselves. We watched a couple of ball games and sort of talked, the way man and dog are sometimes known to do. We talked about how lonely we were.
I know Colby misses many of the endearing little things about my wife as much as I do. I just know that he misses following Marylou about the house, tail wagging furiously, as she tracks down innocent crickets and ants and moths that chew sweaters and squashes their little lives away. I am absolutely certain that Colby misses this because I have observed the smile of satisfaction on his face after he licks up their lifeless bodies from the floor. A chug of bug and a slug of toilet water is pure ecstasy for a dog. Purina should package this.
Me? I miss the way Marylou pulls her collar over her chin when she gets cold. I miss the goofy way her eyebrows crinkle up when she bites into a pretzel. And I miss the way she says "Rats!" when things don't go quite as planned. "Hey, Marylou, I forgot to wheel the trash out to the curb last night." "Rats!" will always her reply. "Hey, Marylou, water leaked through the ceiling, destroyed everything in the attic and blew up the television." "Rats!" she'll say.
It is this particular endearing trait, that Colby and I contemplated. "Mom's plane gets in tonight," I told him. "How should I tell her things went while she was gone?" Of course, he didn't actually answer. If you suspected I'd claim otherwise you're even nuttier than yours truly. Dogs don't talk. What Colby did was walk over to our rolltop desk, pull out a note pad and scrawl the following message with his paw: "Shoot straight. Like darts."
And it was good advice. Honesty is the only policy with a woman. Though I find expensive gifts are helpful too.
It was nearly midnight when I helped Marylou pile her bags into the trunk of the car. "Seems like there's an extra bag or two here," I commented. "I can't wait to get home and show you what I got," she replied. "Me either, I said, "and I can't wait to show you my new drive shaft." Okay, that didn't really happen. Such talk's more commonly found in the parking lot of a topless poodle bar. I just couldn't help throwing it in.
Here's what really happened ...
"Marylou! You're home! You look great. Here's some flowers and some candy and some peanuts and a whole bunch of shoes."
"Why's something have to be wrong? Colby and I missed you. We can't live without you."
"You never give me peanuts."
"Actually," ('Shoot straight. Like darts.'), "things didn't go exactly perfect. I got stopped by the police, set off the burglar alarm, got pizza crumbs in the bed and Colby peed all over your mother's rug. But I remembered to take out the trash."
Marylou smiled, leaned over and kissed my cheek and whispered into my ear: "You really do need me, don't you?" And I smiled, too. Responded with a peck of my own. "Marylou, you have no idea how bad it was. Colby and I were helpless without you. We love you to death."
"I'm home now. Tomorrow night I'll make spaghetti and a salad and rolls and I'll even buy a chocolate cake. We'll get your little tummy filled back up again. And wait 'till you see the new teddy I found in Houston."
("Shoot straight. Like darts.") "Uh, Marylou, that sounds great. Thanks. But tomorrow night's Tuesday. I've got darts. Remember?"
The pause that followed, that deafening silence that follows the moment when a man says something absolutely stupid to a woman, was as long as I've ever experienced. What a fool I was.
"Marylou, honey, 'o gorgeous one ... Colby told me to do it!" More silence.
So, I'm in the dog house and Colby's eating dog food again. Jeez. All I can say is that the next time my dog writes out a note I'm gonna crumple it up and toss it in the toilet. Let him lap up some of his own advice and see how he likes it.
From the Field,