“So-o-o … what you’re telling me is, I’m not going with you?”
“Correct. You’re not going.”
That’s how it went down as I stood in the back yard and tried to explain to my dog, Maggie, why she would not be joining me on a trip north. I had to go to the St. Lawrence River to hook up the water to our camp. A previous trip — last month during a 3-day downpour — ended in failure when the pump went kaput. And all the duct tape in the world wouldn’t fix it. Trust me, I tried. (Nor does staring at it for 20 minutes while muttering “What the hell...?”)
“Perhaps,” Maggie asked, “you can tell me why I’m not going?”
“Look, we shouldn’t even be holding this conversation.”
“And why not?”
“Well, for starters, you’re a dog. Get it? Dogs don’t talk.”
“That never stopped you in the past when you needed a column.”
Touche! She had a point. “Listen,” I tried to explain, “I won’t have the time to fix the screen door the three or four times that would be necessitated if you were there. You were a pain — just like always!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Last year, remember? Every time I left you inside you jumped through the thing like the place was on fire. It’s like you were Bronko Nagurski breaking through the line of scrimmage.”
“Bronko Nagurski?” Maggie mocked. “Nice reference — like someone will get that.”
“Hey look,” she continued, shifting gears, “when we’re at the camp, couldn’t you just leave the door open — so that I could come and go?”
“Come and go? Is that what you call it, Maggie? Is ‘come and go’ what you call it when you take off for hours looking for a dead carp to eat and roll in? Is ‘come and go’ what you call it when you rip through the neighbors’ flower and vegetable gardens, leaving intestine-processed dog food all over their yards?”
I was on a roll.
“Is ‘come and go’ what you call it when you decide to take a bite out of a skunk’s butt and come back smelling so bad that all of the seagulls within a 2-mile radius die? Is that ‘come and go’ Maggie?”
“Was that wrong? You see, I was under the impression that’s what dogs do. Get it? See what I’m doing here? George Costanza! I’m doin’ my George Costanza impression! You know … the guy from ‘Sienfeld.’ ”
“Maggie, neither you nor George are going. Period!”
“What about the cat? Are you taking that flea-bag Raymond?” Maggie gestured toward the window where the cat was sitting inside watching and listening to our conversation — just like always.
I ended our little talk right there. There was no need to continue. I didn’t need to listen to her constant barking. Besides my wife, Kathie, had come outside to see me. And she doesn’t believe me when I tell her the dog can talk. She thinks I’m crazy.
“Two questions!” she blurted as she walked up to me, “First, who in the heck are you talking to?” (I told you she thinks I’m nuts.).
“Fine. And second, why did Raymond ask me about someone named Bronko Nagurski?”
Join me next week as I tell you (and Maggie) how it all went down on my trip to the river. And, as you know, it will not be without its share of problems — just like always.
And that’s the way it looks from the Valley.