March 17, 2009 — Saint Patrick’s Day
I spent a lot of my childhood growing up in a nicotine-stained bowling alley, and it was there that we found our dog. Dogs were common at this particular bowling alley. Even the owner frequently brought “her babies” to work with her— two Miniature Schnauzers and a Scottish Terrier. So, it didn’t feel strange at all to see a Labrador pup on the counter one day, and it didn’t feel strange at all sliding him off the counter and walking out with him either.
Admittedly, I tried calling my mother before I chose the pup, but she wasn’t answering her cell phone. (This was a pretty normal occurrence, too.) I called her boyfriend, Steve, to see if they were together, but they weren’t. When I told him that I was about to be a new dog owner, he laughed and said: “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.”
My friend, Summer, and I sat in a truckbed drinking sweet tea from large Styrofoam cups and talking about names outside of the bowling alley. We made a diamond with our legs and let the pup play between us. Mostly, he just slept. The street lights hissed a brownish gold, and we could hear the men smoking outside the bowling alley door threatening and laughing at each other.
I wondered then what this pup would be like when he grew old. I wondered if he would be like my family, become like us, strangely attached to our anger and pride and fear. I watched the sunlight drag across the pavement and wondered then too what it was like to take a child from a mother you’ve never seen.