Rouletta has gone insane.
I cannot go a block into our daily walks without her lunging after lizards. She hurls herself into the air, twists her sausage-like body into a double corkscrew, and spirals forward after these elusive yet plentiful-by-the-hundreds creatures that scurry across the steamy concrete pavement.
This drives me insane.
More than a few times each day, she lands on her back or smashes nose first into a thorny hedge. This morning, she fell so hard on her back, I was sure she would be injured. But no, she bounded back up, hopelessly tangled in her leash, did the Boston Terrier “pointing” thing and looked for the next pint-sized reptile she was certain was the one she would finally capture. I have no idea what she will do with a lizard if and when she ever catches one, but I also don’t want to find out. This is an aggravating, distracting activity of hers that challenges her cool diva persona.
Blame the lizards for repeatedly showing me this dark side of my otherwise perfect pup.
This evening, we walked past a mom and her two kids whom I see on every single walk Rouletta and I take. The boy is about four, the girl about two. They could be my kids, so many years ago. Their mom could be me, a lifetime ago.
But this mom is a better mom than I ever was. She is always doing some sort of outside activity with her cute kids–painting rocks, drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalk, planting flowers, singing outdoor songs. Her creativity is endless. She exhausts me just thinking about the energy it must take for her to put on this great-mom show every day. Frankly, she looks exhausted, but she always has a hello and a ready smile for me when my insane lizard-hunting dog and I cross her path and that of her babies.
Today, I watched from a few doors down as this super mom wielded a butterfly net, swooping down on a scraggly bush in her front yard with swipe so swift, I wasn’t sure what was going on. Batting a bee? Swatting an errant feral cat?
“Wanna see what my mom caught for me?” the little boy asked me as I yanked Rouletta to my side so she wouldn’t climb a palm tree trunk in an effort to complete her lizard quest. Mom smiled at me, proud yet somewhat embarrassed.
“Sure!” I said. Because what the hell? I am sure this mom could successfully wrestle an alligator for her kids if it came down to that.
“See?” he said, hoisting a small plastic container up to my face.
I had to look more than a few seconds to finally see it–the tiniest of lizards. A baby, to be sure.
“Oh, wow!” I exclaimed. “So now you get to keep it as a pet?”
“Only for a day,” said Mom.
“Only for one day,” echoed the boy. “Then we let him go.”
“Go, go!” giggled his younger sister.
Nice. Cute. Adorable. Way to remind me of how many Disney Duck Tales episodes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tapes I shoved in a VCR to keep my kids occupied so I could simply catch my breath when my now-awesome-in-spite-of-me kids were these kids’ ages.
Blame my recurring feeling that I am a mother who STILL doesn’t measure up on this stupid lizard that was lucky enough to be caught by a great mom who will ensure his freedom tomorrow.
As the lizard-possessed pup and I continued our walk, we spied a beautiful French Bull Dog being walked by his owners. Both of our dogs pulled at their leashes to greet each other. “Can they say hello?” I asked the men walking this cute dog, because I have heard that is doggy-owner etiquette, although I am the only one in my neighborhood who does this. Mostly, folks just pull their dogs close to them and cross the street away from my dog. I don’t take this personally. I simply blame the lizards that make my dog seem like a maniac for preventing anyone from wanting to talk to us.
“Sure!” one answered. And our pups were smitten with each other at first sight.
“How old is yours?”
“What’s her name?”
She is a fallen show girl. Ha ha.
How old is yours?
“He’s our baby–a seven month old.”
Great. No really great. You are a happy couple of guys wearing wedding bands and you have a well-behaved puppy you adore. You complete each other as much in love as you obviously are. I don’t begrudge you this, of course. I am just having a rough couple of days, okay years, on the love front, and now my dog has turned into a maniac about the lizards, and….Hey, you wanna be friends? I damn well could use a friend in this town right about now! Not that I am needy or anything, but you seem so happy with the dog and all….
“Nice meeting you. See you again on walks,” the one man’s partner smiles as Rouletta wraps the leash around her neck in an attempt to pounce on a lizard she spies dashing along a landscape rock in someone’s perfectly landscaped front yard.
I blame the lizards for every friend I cannot make and haven’t made in my neighborhood that I am leaving in exactly five weeks.
When we get back to my apartment, my neighbor is there at my door, begging a glass of wine and a cigarette. She tells me how she has deleted her bad boy’s number from her cell phone and how empowered she feels by this action. “Finally,” she says, “I was proactive and did the right thing for me.”
Rouletta eyes a lizard scurrying along the wall next to my front door. She careens face first into the stucco even as she is five seconds too late to even put a paw on the lightening-quick critter.
“You just deleted his number and that’s that?” I ask, examining Rouletta’s face for damage after I haul her sorry self into my arms.
“Yep. You should try it. It is so empowering. So freeing.”
Hours later, the pup is sprawled out on her cushy bed. She looks exhausted from her recurring efforts to go after what she will never capture. I stare at my iPhone on my desk. It is still encased in its pink “skin” that will make it difficult for me to drop it, according to my daughter.
I give it a moment’s thought. Then another. Then a glass of wine and a couple of more minutes.
Then I delete a phone number from my iPhone.
I wait. I wait some more. But I don’t feel empowered. I don’t feel free. Instead, I feel sick. Sick on a day I got a small raise. Sick on a day a local newspaper wants to publish one of my photos.
So, I try not to feel anything. When I still feel everything, I blame it all on the lizards.