We entered the large, cavernous warehouse completely empty except for a small area that was set up to look like a living room in someone’s home. There was a brown leather couch with a side table, a homey standing lamp all arranged on a Persian rug, lit up by spotlights. The rest of the vast space was dark in comparison exception for natural light that streamed in through the windows surrounding the building. In front of the living room set, a plain long table was set up where the decision makers were seated in folding chairs with their notepads and pens in hand. They were dressed like triples, three middle aged men, very different in appearance except for their clothes, all in khaki pants with polo shirts that had the collars sticking up and Gucci loafers without socks. One had a head full of curls, the other had slicked back straight hair and the third was completely bald. A camera man was standing to the side of the stage with his hand-held pointing at me as I walked to the couch with Blondie. Everyone was quiet waiting for us to begin. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Neither did Blondie.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Finally, some professional handlers showed up with their dogs. I could tell they were in the business because they came prepared with their dog crates, bait bags, treats and other training paraphernalia. I, on the other hand, was the person with my dog pulling me around on a leash, sniffing, and barking, out of control, and obviously not trained. I peaked inside the crates of the handlers at the other dogs and breathed a sigh of relief; none were as beautiful as Blondie.
Since she was the prettiest dog there by far, at least in my estimation, I immediately felt at ease and confident that she had a good shot at being chosen for the spokes dog. How could I have ever doubted my Blondie? I was imagining her future, being mobbed by fans screaming for her pawdegragh, becoming the poster dog for shelters nationwide, encouraging people to rescue dogs, the two of us meeting Oprah and sharing our heart warming story of how this little dog changed my life and the world.
“Lady, lady, hey you,” I was awakened from my day dream by a man shouting to follow him inside. I yanked Blondie forward as the trainers in line snickered, I imagined them talking behind my back and asking each other what was this person doing here with this obviously untrained mutt?
Thursday, April 25, 2013
The next day, I took Blondie to the audition at a warehouse in
Culver City. We were the first to arrive. Living in LA, I always gave myself ample time driving to new locations in case I got lost, which I frequently did. But that day, was an exception. I pulled up to the grey, drab building in the middle of an industrial area that seemed totally abandoned. I wasn't even sure I was in the right place. I double checked the address and Blondie and I walked around the building.
In the back of the parking lot, I spotted a sign that read in big black letters DOG AUDITION HERE. So that’s where Blondie and I stood waiting. And waiting. Patience is not a virtue that I have mastered so I became restless and felt uneasy about the whole thing. I was fidgeting and biting my nails, twirling my hair and basically psyching myself into a frenzy. I realized that I hadn't really thought this through before I arrived and now I was starting to have second thoughts.
Monday, April 22, 2013
The dogs came bounding into the living room like two toddlers, twirling and jumping, barking and play-growling. Elliott was carrying something in his mouth furiously shaking the object to get Blondie to play tug with him.
“Elliott, give me that,” the elegant greyhound spun around, out of my grasp, tail in the air ready for a game of chase. Blondie turned and excitedly bowed her front paws down on the ground with her butt in the air barking at him.
“Stop it you two!” They both looked up at me in surprised. Elliottyears. I held the doll and cradled her broken body, stuffing coming out everywhere. I knew Elliott didn't mean to ruin my childhood keep-sake but he did and I was extremely saddened by the loss.
“What happened?” Ryan keeled down and put his arms around me.
Clutching pieces of my doll, Blondie faced me with a look of concern, tilting her head slightly, kissing my tears. Poor Elliott stood back up and wagged his tail not knowing what to do but trying to make us laugh.
“ I've had her forever,” I explained.
“I’m so sorry,” Ryan said as he turned to reprimand Elliott. “Bad Dog!” Elliott cowered as Ryan lifted his hand to strike.
“Don’t hit him. He didn't know what he was doing,” I said. “Besides, it’s too late now. He won’t associate the consequence with ripping up my doll,” I reasoned and hugged the big lug of a dog.
Friday, April 19, 2013
“Ryan, we need to talk,” I said on his answering machine. I thought it was best to at least give him a warning that something was seriously wrong. He got the message because he immediately called me back and made plans to come over. Of course, he brought Elliott.
“Hello beautiful,” he said as I opened the door. “What are you making for dinner?” Elliott, the complete goofball that he was, stumbled into my apartment and ran into my bedroom to play with Blondie.
“Hello to you too, Elliott,” I patted the big greyhound on the back as he sped by. “Let’s sit down and talk for a minute.”
“Great. I wanted to tell you about something,” he sounded exceedingly excited. “Get this. I saw an ad today about an open audition," he stated with a twinkle in his eyes. You’ll never believe it -- for a paint commercial looking for – are you ready? A dog. I immediately thought of Blondie.”
“Really?” Just like that, I forgot about breaking up with him. He had my number. “You think she could be in a commercial?”
“Why not? It says open casting call,” he handed me the ad, carefully cut out for me. Then he totally surprised me by asking to cook. Granted, he didn't bring anything to cook with but at least he offered.
“Let me make dinner tonight for you. Do you have any pasta? It’s my turn to cook for a change.”Oh my God. Was he reading my mind? Maybe there was a chance, despite our age difference.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Young Ryan knew I was disappointed with him after the Valentine's Day debacle. It was impossible for him not to know, I was behaving different. It was as if I was watching myself be a mean girl but I couldn't control my anger towards him. It seemed like the ants marched off with the spark that made our relationship work. Our age difference was taking its toll on me. I felt stuck compared to my other friends.
Barb and her husband were planning a trip to Hawaii with their kids. They were bringing a sitter too so they could have some adult time together on the island of Maui. My other friend Mary received an entire new wardrobe from her husband that Christmas while Kate’s husband always picked up the tab everywhere we went. Ryan couldn't even afford to take me to McDonald's. Add to this the extreme pressure I felt every time I spoke to my mom, constantly badgering me about getting married, and I was headed for a complete meltdown. I needed to break it off with Ryan so I could meet the man of my dreams.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
There I was, with an actual boyfriend on Valentine's Day who brought me actual flowers, freaking out about the bugs he unintentionally brought into my home with the bundles of flowers he hand-picked for me. At this point, I would have appreciated one lovely store bought bouquet. But it was what it was and it was up to me to do something about the pests.
“First, get all the flowers out of here and into the dumpster in the alley,” I commanded, now in full combat mode.
My young boyfriend Ryan looked like he was going to cry, but then he complied to my demands like a wounded solider, scooping up fistfuls of flowers and tearing down the stairs of my apartment to the garbage.
I dumped my bedding into large trash bags to take to the Laundromat. Next, I put the dogs in my car so they wouldn’t be hurt by the bug spray.
Ryan was running as fast as he could up and down the stairs with his arms filled with flowers while I was spraying the hell out of the ants and spiders. We were quite a team. We both got on our hands and knees and cleaned up the dead ants with paper towels, then took the bedding to the Laundromat. That’s how we spent Valentine’s Day, killing ants and washing bedding. How romantic.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Seeing ants in my bedroom made my skin crawl.
“Ryan!” I yelled. He grabbed some of the flowers and more ants ran out. I moved the bougainvillea, it stabbed my finger.
“Ouch!” I dripped blood on the white pillow case as a thick black column of ants marched by. They were scrambling all over the bed, crawling up the walls and down to the floor, from the bedroom to the bathroom. And then I noticed the spiders, huge hairy brown ones, big as a quarter, the whole place was crawling.
“What have you done?” I cried.
Ryan just stood there looking totally defeated. I was devastated. How was I going to clean up this mess?
“I’m sorry,” he said in a little boy voice.
“ You've got to help me get rid of these bugs,” I said hunting for the bug spray under my kitchen sink. But when I went in there, the ant party was going full throttle in the kitchen too.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
I was so touched by Ryan's Valentine's Day surprise that couldn't help from twirling in circles, excited to see all this beauty surrounding me. I ran to the kitchen as Ryan watched, delighted in my delirium. Tulips, gardenias, sunflowers and daisies hung everywhere in the kitchen, from the window, on top of the refrigerator, on the kitchen table and chairs, even the floors were covered in an array of vibrant colors. I gasped as I entered each room of my tiny apartment, running back through the living room to the bedroom, into the pink tiled bathroom. Even it was filled with pretty fuchsia flowers; they covered the sink and tub. I never had a boyfriend who was that romantic on Valentine’s Day. I grabbed him and kissed him, tears welling up in my eyes.
“Thank you so much, you make me feel so special,” I said as a warm and fuzzy sensation started blooming inside of me.
“You are special,” he answered. I walked over to the bed and carefully moved the irises over to make room for us to sit. That’s when I saw them. Ants. Crawling. Marching. Hundreds of them. No thousands. The entire bed was wriggling with them.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Ryan didn't let me down; he made it a Valentine’s Day to remember. Somehow while I was at a business meeting, he managed to break into my apartment and decorate it with fresh flowers. Ryan actually hand-picked them, or stole them, from the front yards of well-tended
homes where immaculately manicured gardens are a work of art. I’m not
talking about a few flowers here. He decorated my entire apartment with hundreds
of them, in all imaginable varieties of blooms.
There were beautiful roses in shades of pinks, reds and yellows creating a sweet scent in my living room that made me dizzy as I entered. Dropping my briefcase and purse, I rubbed my eyes to make sure they were real. My mascara made big black circles around my eyes from rubbing them. Ryan looked concerned, as if he thought I was crying. He stood next to me, wiping off the black around my eyes while admiring the rose garden he had created.
“Ryan, what’s all this?” I asked in a daze, high from the overwhelming fragrance.
“Happy Valentine’s Day!” He threw his arms in the air and grabbed me with a big teddy bear hug.
As we hugged, I peeked over his shoulder into my bedroom. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw stocks of irises in their deep robust purple on my bed that looked surreal like the ones Vincent Van Gogh painted. I didn't know how he knew that Irises are one of my very favorite flowers. I dropped my embrace and ran to see the magnificent buds. Framing them were bright fuchsia stocks of bougainvillea on my pillows as if they were growing toward the ceiling.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Ryan loved having his picture taken at all the exclusive parties I was invited to cover for Palm Springs Life magazine. It seemed as though he saw this as a possible vehicle toward his success as an actor. Wherever we went, Ryan was sure to cause a splash. Both women and men in the LA party scene flirted with the young hunk which only fueled my interest in Ryan. I knew these were the shallow people who had never accepted me before but were now my bffs, calling at all hours of the night inviting me and my boyfriend to after hour parties. As long as I brought Ryan with me, then I was also part of the in crowd. Even with all this attention, I knew deep down in my heart it was time to say good-bye and get serious about finding a husband. The problem was timing.
Of course, on Halloween my favorite holiday, I couldn't break it off with him. Or Thanksgiving or New Year’s. But I promised myself, after the holidays, I’d start fresh. But then that plan didn't work because of two simple words. Valentine’s Day.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Ryan helped me celebrate my birthday by making reservations at my favorite restaurant, which just happened to be a client so the entire meal was comped. He did a nice job wrapping a present for me. It was a necklace he made out of noodles, like the ones kids make their moms for Mother’s Day. Even though I was disappointed, I decided to wait until the end of the summer to break it off with Ryan. His smile and those big brown eyes just melted my heart every time I considered ending it. Besides, Blondie and Elliott were best buddies by now and the two guys came over most evenings after I finished working to hang out. I made dinner, usually one of a handful of dishes. I cooked up some pasta with doctored up bottled sauce that I said was home made or I heated some cream of broccoli soup from a can that I added fresh vegetables to and lied about making from scratch. It was delicious with a baguette and green salad.
Summer ended, fall began with its promise of new beginnings. I got a side job working as the Around Town Correspondent for Palm Springs Life Magazine. That meant I was invited to literally every event in Los Angeles in the hopes that I would include it in my popular column. Ryan loved going with me to every party, movie premier, art and restaurant opening, play, black tie dinner, everything in Los Angeles. We got to go out and we didn’t have to spend any money. He craved the limelight but I missed staying home with Blondie. I didn’t really like hanging out with all those pretentious people who I didn’t know.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
My relationship with Ryan was just what I needed, light, fun and innocent. The auburn colored light flecks danced in his brown eyes as he talked and I laughed uncontrollably when he performed private break dance routines, completely naked. When we weren't playing with our dogs, I introduced Ryan to my favorite romantic comedies like the 1938 classic Bringing Up Baby with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. I loved the scenes with Hepburn's character, a flighty heiress, and her "baby" leopard. Ryan even helped me stuff envelopes when I had to do big mailings for my clients.
At first, I didn't miss the fact that he had no money to take me out on dates or that we couldn't go on vacation together. I didn't care that we didn't have a future together. Our present was enough for now. Ryan was completely agreeable to my every whim and we never argued. He had what I referred to as “perm-a-smile” and even my cheeks hurt from smiling so much whenever he was around. He followed me sort of like a puppy does. I hesitated to bring him around my friends who were teasing me about my love affair with someone so young. I didn't want to hurt his feelings. Plus, I knew we weren't going to last. Besides, my 30th birthday was coming up, and I definitely wanted to keep him around until then.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Ryan's entire body was shaking with anticipation as he stood up, grabbed my hand and guided me to my bedroom. We proceeded to take off each others clothes. I unbuttoned his shirt, one button at a time, kissing him on his chest and down to his belt buckle.
“You really want to do this?” He asked.
I let my body answer him and when he made love to me that night, I felt as if I was 16 again only this time I wouldn’t stop the momentum on the dock in Catalina. There was something about his innocence. Something about his inexperience yet his knowing, just by being male, he knew how to please a woman. There was no pretense. There was no judgment. There was no manipulation. Just a man doing what came naturally from the beginning of time.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I don’t remember ever being with a man for the first time without the influence of alcohol dulling my senses. But I wanted this, I wanted him. Ryan embraced me and began caressing my back in slow and steady strokes. He was sweet and gentle and definitely not a ladies man (at least not yet). At times, he was awkward with hands and noses and lips and teeth hitting at wrong moments and in the wrong places. But he explored and we laughed and it felt good to be touched and adored by him. He pulled my body under his and I felt light as a feather. My chaotic mind wailed, he’s too young, don’t do it, you’ll regret it, stop, don’t stop, it feels good, why not, can’t I have a little fun once in a while, no one has to know, just do it, besides, he’s a dog lover like you.
Friday, March 15, 2013
I tried to start a conversation with young Ryan but it was difficult to concentrate. There was no doubt that I was attracted to the boy. So I asked him if he had plans to go to college?
“Yea, I went to
for a year but I didn't graduate, obviously," he explained. "The deal with my dad is that he’ll pay my way until I get my acting career off the ground. I have exactly two years. If it doesn't happen, then I
go back and get my law degree. So time is not on my side. That’s why I invented
Georgetown University Lawrence.” Why he didn't just take acting in school, I thought to myself when out of nowhere, he
reached over and kissed me. It was a very sweet kiss, a first kiss filled with promise and puppy love. I felt giddy with butterfly's taking over my entire body.
“Wait just a minute," I said as I pulled away from him. "I don’t know about this. I mean there’s a lot here to discuss. First of all, you’re only 19 years old,” Not even old enough to drink yet, I added in my mind. Even though I had wanted to kiss him just moments ago, and his lips did feel every bit as sensuous as I had hoped they would, the reality of it was confusing. I thought I was not the sort of person who could have a fling. I craved long term relationships and once I slept with someone, it was hard for me to let go. He had just arrived in town and told me that unless his acting career took off, he was headed back east. Those were not very good odds for a long term commitment.
“So what, my last girlfriend was in her 30s," Ryan said, inching closer to me. "I like older women.” I didn't know if I believed that line, he seemed awfully immature. Anyway, I felt weird about being labeled the “older” one considering I was always the youngest, the baby of my family. But his smile kept me hooked. Besides, this was only going to be a fling, remember?
My thoughts kept racing back and forth until he scooted himself as close to me as possible and leaned in for another kiss. That's when my mind went completely blank. He smelled so good. Even his sweat was sweet like vanilla. I stopped resisting.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
“So, you’re an actor, huh?” I asked the young Ryan as I sat next to him on my second hand couch. He made me feel completely comfortable, possibly because I wasn't putting pressure on myself or him. He was so young that I knew he wasn't "Mr. Right." He was simply "Mr. Right Now."
I took my shoes off and ran my feet over Blondie’s silky coat. She looked up at me then put her head back down on the floor. I gazed at Ryan. His mouth was moving but I didn't hear a word he was saying. I was off in my own dreamland just watching, those full lips, that grin, I wanted to kiss him and feel that velvety mouth against mine. Blondie’s feet started moving as if she was running after Elliott at the park, waking me up from my day-dream. She whimpered out loud like dogs do sometimes in their sleep.
“It’s okay girlie,” I whispered and she relaxed back into her happy dream state. I turned my attention to Ryan.
"Are you an actor of the silver screen or a star of the TV screen?”
“Well, neither yet, I've only started auditioning. I just got a manager when I arrived here a few weeks ago.” He was beaming the entire time he spoke. It was infectious. I started smiling too, even though we weren't talking about anything that was particularly amusing.
“Well, that’s good, to already have a manger, isn't it? It can be difficult to even get representation in this town.”
“I’ll let you in on a little secret,” he whispered. “I made him up.”
“His name is Lawrence Feinstein and I made him up. I call about auditions and get myself the appointments due to the tenacity of a totally made up person.”
“Oh my God! You should get an Academy Award just for that!” I didn't think about asking how he found out about auditions or where he got these numbers to call and get the information about auditions. The fact that he just told me he’s a liar didn't even phase me. I was already starting down the road of denial with Ryan. “Let me hear his voice.”
He didn't even hesitate:“Hello, I’m calling about Ryan. He is new in town and is perfect for the role of Sam in your movie. Can I send him to your casting call today?” His voice sounded deeper, older and he imitated a perfect
York accent. At least he wasn't sitting around
complaining, I thought.
“How do you pay your bills?” I asked, curious to learn what he did for money. LA is an expensive city.
“My Dad is helping me. He’s an attorney in DC.” Of course he was, I thought. Isn't everyone that lives there an attorney? It figures. He’s cute. He’s an actor. He’s broke.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The next day, we met at the park. And the trend continued for the entire week. By the weekend, I felt ready to invite him to my apartment. By then, I had moved into out of the Perkins house into my own place in Beverly Hills. I got all my stuff that wasn't ruined during the ugly Bobby break-up out of storage and Berry and Tony gave me some additional furniture they weren't using. Even with Blondie and my friends, I was lonely and tired of trying so hard to find Mr. Right. I figured a fun, non-serious fling with this young man might take my mind off my quest for a while.
“Nice place,” Ryan said as he entered my apartment with the second hand furniture. Blondie was acting really excited to have Elliott over. She was showing him around, the water bowl is here, the bedroom’s here, the kitchen’s here, bathroom’s here. Elliott followed her from room to room as if we lived in a palace. Finally, they settled in the living room, sprawled out on the wood floor in front of the couch, pooped after a fun afternoon frolicking at the park.
“Go ahead and make yourself comfortable,” I said even through Ryan was already sitting on the couch with his feet up on my coffee table. “Want something to drink?” I asked from the kitchen.
“I’d love a Coke,” he replied. I made a funny face from the other room as I peaked inside my bare refrigerator.
“How about a glass of water?”
“Water sounds great.” I returned with two glasses of ice water. At least I had ice. He didn't seem to mind a bit, smiling that contiguous grin.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
I gently took hold of Blondie's collar but she obviously wasn't ready to leave. She looked up at me with those deep brown soulful eyes filled with mischief, and took off in the opposite direction, looking back at me to see if I would chase her. I stayed put but Elliott crouched down then took off in circles around Blondie.
“Your dog is a bad influence on my Blondie,” I said flippantly before yelling, “Blondie Come Here!”
Both dogs turned and started running at full speed towards us while jumping and nipping at each other along the way. Elliott was headed directly at me, not paying attention to where he was headed. I braced myself to be slammed by this big athletic dog but at the last moment, Ryan slid in front of me like a baseball player stealing home stopping Elliott in his tracks. The two of them rolled on the grass, human arms and dog legs flailing. I couldn't believe my eyes when they both quickly jumped back on their feet completely unfazed.
“He has a little difficulty putting on the brakes sometimes,” Ryan told me as Elliott looked adoringly at his owner, obviously not hurt in the tackle. “Must be a bad habit from his racing days,” Ryan added as he gave Elliott an enthusiastic pat and the dog playfully rubbed his entire body against his owner, almost knocking him over. Ryan stepped back and waved his arms to catch his balance. His knees were grass stained.
“You’re my hero,” I remarked acting like a damsel in distress with my hands together by the side of my face, my right leg bent at the knee. As I put the leash on Blondie, I asked “Why don’t we meet here again tomorrow?”
“Deal,” he said as he rubbed the grass off his palms before putting his hand out to shake on it. When our hands touched, I was surprised at the chemistry I felt between us. He was nine years younger, so young I thought I better leave that one alone. As I got to my car, I looked back at him and he was waving good bye with both hands. I could feel the electricity from the parking lot.
Monday, March 4, 2013
While young Ryan was showing off his break dancing moves, Blondie and Elliott lay together under the shade of a nearby tree both. They already looked as if they were old friends. Their faces were relaxed, noses in the air, their bodies sprawled out on the park's grass. No one would have ever guessed that both dogs were rescued from certain death.
“Where’re you from,” Ryan asked turning his attention to me with that incredible smile. We chatted for a while, mostly about our dogs. I didn't think too much about it since he was nine years younger than me, not even old enough to drink yet. Lots of men my age dated younger women but I just didn't think I could go there.
“It was nice meeting you and thanks for the dance,” I said as I grabbed Blondie’s pink bling collar. "We've got to go now."
“Hey, uh, do you want to go out sometime? I mean, I just moved here and I don’t know that many people,” he stammered. He was so adorable I couldn't help by feel flattered that he asked me out. But we had nothing in common except for dogs. I didn't know anything about break dancing, Washington DC or acting. I figured it was best to remain untangled with this young hunk, even though I found him intensely attractive.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Elliott didn't take his eyes off his owner Ryan while the two of them walked back to us. The mutual love between the two of them was palpable as Elliott jumped around his owner like a gazelle. I had a very good feeling about this encounter.
"That was fast," I said as Ryan flipped his right hand taut and sent his arms gliding across his body like a rubber hose moving to the tip of his left hand. "What was that?"
“I used to be a professional break dancer,” the young Ryan informed me. I couldn't break dance to save my life. I tried not to but I laughed out loud as he showed me some of his intricate, athletic moves. Times were different back then. There weren't reality shows or YouTube stars. In fact, there wasn't much opportunity for dancers that I knew about. I had only seen break dancing in person on the streets of
New York City.
There was no music playing but as he danced, it was impossible for me to keep from tapping my foot to the beat of his movements. All eyes at the park were now on him as he slid, jumped, and landed on his toes in a dramatic choreographed sequence of intricate dance steps. His feet moved so quickly I could see why the greyhound was his first choice in dogs. He jumped and landed on his hands with his feet at a 90 degree angle, then froze for a moment before popping back up. The muscles in his buffed biceps were clearly getting a workout as he jumped from hand to hand effortlessly. Standing now, his shoulders moved one way while his hips moved the other and then he jumped again, balancing on one arm until he froze in mid-air. This boy had power and flexibility, that’s for sure. By the time he finished, everyone at the park clapped.
“That’s twice today they've clapped for you,” I pointed out.
“On the streets of D.C., they used to give me money,” he laughed as he brushed the grass from his hands. “I started by competing with other street performers until I was discovered. I performed with a troupe from the time I was 16.”
I was impressed. I had no idea the strength that was necessary for break dancing.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
As I marveled at his majestic looking dog, I asked Ryan if Elliott had ever raced.
“Yea, and he won most of the time,” he proudly answered, showing me Elliott’s tattooed number inside his right ear. “This is his racing number. I looked up his statistics and he was fast. Over 40 miles an hour.”
“Wow. That's amazing. Can I see him run?” I asked and Ryan shook his head yes.
“Here, you hold him and I’ll go to the other end of the park,” he handed me Elliott's collar.
It was hard to hold back 90 pounds of solid muscle. Right away, Elliott started to squirm and lunge toward Ryan pulling my arm practically out of its socket. So I put both my arms around his deep chest and felt his heart pounding as he tried to get away. I was surprised that his short coat was so soft and fine making it even more difficult to hold onto him.
He struggled in my arms, pulling me forward but I held on tight. When Ryan finally yelled to him from across the park, I let go and Elliott took off. I witnessed for the first time the greyhound’s double suspension gallop; all four of his feet were off the ground during each full stride. A hush came over the entire park as his powerful muscles strained against his skin. The small ears that stood straight up moments ago now folded over tight next to his head. Elliott’s complete attention was focused on his owner as he ran the entire distance of a football field in a matter of seconds.
To my surprise, Blondie took off after Elliott and actually managed to keep up with him for a few strides. Her legs were also in a perfect rhythm, reaching out as far as she could make them go. Her golden hair was blowing against her sleek body and her nose stuck out in front of her as far forwarded as she could make it go. But she was no match for the greyhound. When Elliott reached Ryan and skidded to a stop, the entire park broke out in applause.
Blondie only made it a fraction of the distance before she turned and came back to me. Her little game of chasing dogs and biting their tails didn't work with Elliott. He was far too fast for her antics. She stood by my side and watched the fastest dog we had ever seen run like the wind.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Seemingly out of nowhere, a young man appeared, running towards me after his beautiful fawn colored greyhound. My heart stopped. He looked more like a Roman God than a human being with his perfectly chiseled nose, his short slicked back hair and muscular build. He wore converse tennis shoes and Calvin Klein Jeans with a simple white cotton shirt that made a striking contrast against his tanned olive skin. Did Goddess Diana send him to me?
Ryan had big brown doe eyes filled with wonder, wide shoulders like an Olympic swimmer and a smile that could melt anyone’s heart. He was only 19-years-old, significantly younger than me, and had recently moved to
Los Angeles from to start his acting career. He rescued his dog, Elliott, as soon as he had a home that allowed dogs because he had always wanted to save one of these canine athletes. That sentiment alone carried a huge amount of weight with me since so
many people I knew in LA were only interested in owning pure breeds as a status
symbol. Elliott the dog made his owner look good in my eyes with his slender head, wet
brown nose and dark eyes that revealed a gentle, intelligent soul. Washington DC
The race track is home for these magnificent creatures since birth and they live a very regimented and sheltered existence while they are racing. Most retire after about two-years without any experience in the real world. So, although they are on the large side, Greyhounds make excellent apartment pets. They enjoy being with people and other pets and are a low maintenance dog by nature. They are not in constant motion, as one would think. They've paid their dues on the race track and are perfectly content to sleep the day away, as long as they get their daily walks. I had been an advocate for this breed, even though I had never owned one myself. Elliott looked like he had a smile on his face, just like his owner Ryan. It was impossible not to smile too.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
I ran into an older couple delighted with their two West Highland Terrier puppies. The man's white hair matched his pack. He looked like a Westie, with dark brown, almost black, eyes. The couple seemed a little overwhelmed by their energetic, independent and self-confident dogs.
“I love those puppies,” I said as both dogs wiggled their entire bodies and tried to climb my legs. When researching dogs before rescuing Blondie, I read that the Westie are very social and friendly but they need exercise. The Scottish breed dates back to James I of England who ordered a dozen white terriers as a gift to the Kingdom of France.
“Westies are great companions,” the man said. “They’re a bit feisty but in a very playful way,” the woman added. "This is their first time at the park," she added. "They just finished getting their shots."
I didn't stop for long, although I did take a moment to inhale their sweet puppy breath! I wasn't even half way around the park yet. There were about a dozen or so people and dogs left to meet and more were arriving every minute. I needed to keep going, stay with the plan to meet my man.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
As I strolled the park with Blondie by my side, I noticed a group of six jocks playing Frisbee with their dogs. Maybe they were single. They looked about my age, clean cut and tanned. Their dogs, a regal looking German Shepherd, a Lassie looking Collie-mix, a giant Boxer, a feisty Jack Russell, and a handsome Golden Retriever were fighting over the Frisbee each time it was launched. The Jack mutt kept catching it, much to the displeasure of the rest of the pack. Once he got a hold of the Frisbee, he ran as fast as he could, playing keep away from the other canines and their humans.
The men were obviously a clique, in their Adidas warm-up outfits so popular back then. As I moved closer to them, the Frisbee came soaring right to me. Was this a form of park flirting? I could play that game. So I caught the Frisbee and tried to impress them by throwing it back. I had not yet learned the gentle art of the Frisbee and hit one of the guys in the head. Needless to say, I kept going.
Monday, February 18, 2013
I drove down that windy road with a new found determination in my heart. As I parked my car, I was overcome by a feeling of knowing HE was there, our paths would cross that very day. Just as I was putting Blondie’s leash on, a car pulled up beside me and a handsome man stepped out. Was this him? I smiled as he came around to the passenger side to get his dog out.
“Is that a doggie seat belt?” I asked the preppy looking 30 something.
“Yea, my wife found it and since Spot is our child, we have to keep him safe.”
Well, I guess he’s not the one, he’s already married. I should have noticed the ring. Too bad because he was tall and lanky, just my type, wearing Levis tennis shoes and a green and white striped Ralph Lauren polo shirt with the collar pulled up around his neck that matched his striking emerald eyes. He unbuckled his energetic lab from its seat belt and put its leash on. Immediately, the dog jumped out of the car and started pulling him towards the park entrance.
“I didn't know they made doggie seat belts,” I said. “I’ll have to look into that. Thanks for the tip.”
I walked on deciding the best course of action would be to make a circle around the perimeter of the park for a complete view of who was there. I immediately came upon three young starlettes with small toy dogs; a fluffy Pekingese, a Maltese with its hair up in a pink bow and a Chihuahua-mix wearing a pink sweater. The girls were wearing ripped tee shirts with their Valley Girl pink headbands and matching leg warmers. They were getting lots of attending from the boys at the park. But, I didn't let that defeat my purpose!
Friday, February 15, 2013
It was as if Goddess Diana, the one from Roman Mythology (who my best friend Berry Perkins reminded me of), shot a magic arrow down from the heavens at me that day as I drove to the dog park in Laurel Canyon. Diana, the goddess of single women, protector of all that is wild and free, the maiden huntress, she and her greyhounds would help me finally attract an appropriate man.
The greyhound is a creature of rare beauty with slender legs for speed and agility, and well-developed muscles for endurance, such a powerful yet elegant creature, sleek and gentle. In fact, Greyhounds are the fastest running of all dogs, with their long legs and lanky frames. Only the cheetah tops the Greyhound for speed in the animal world. I needed the speed, strength and endurance of these regal canines to help me in my quest to end my single status.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Later that night I thought about Gary, his messy apartment and his choice to rob people. I didn't know what I would have done losing my parents at the tender age of 13. But, he kept stealing well into his 20s until he finally got caught. What drove him to live like that, I wondered?
I realized that it wasn't for the money. It wasn’t about the jewels at all. It was about the rush, about beating the system. Gary was just a guy who needed to live life on the edge. I wanted to be with someone who was exciting, that was true, but I realized integrity was an important quality I needed in a man.There was no question; I had made the right decision in leaving his apartment.
I still wanted to find someone to spend my life with, though. So, the very next day, I headed back to the Laurel Canon Dog Park. I knew there were lots of single men at the park. Dog loving men. I needed to meet as many as possible. I figured being single was a numbers game. The more I met, the better my chances of making that special connection.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
As Gary was talking, I took a moment to look around his apartment and see what was beyond the filth. I noticed that his walls were decorated with photos of him in his tux being interviewed on various talk shows. Sheba was always at his side looking right at the camera. He saw me looking at the collection of memories, hung way too high on the wall and crooked.
“Oh those are of me on the talk show circuit,” He proudly announced. “Once I got on one, they all wanted me,” he smiled then bent over to kiss me. I was totally taken off-guard, backing away from him as he moved closer to me.His actions startled Blondie who actually growled and showed her teeth. I took the opportunity to slide down under his arm until I was completely off the couch. Sitting on the floor, I saw a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. That did it. That was totally gross.
“I think she’s sending us a message here,” I said, standing up in front of him as he collapsed face first into the cushions.
“I like you, I really like you, Gary,” I said.
“But…” he added.
“But, I don’t know, I’m just not ready to get into a relationship. You’re absolutely adorable. So kind to my little dog. And so interesting. I’ve never met anyone quite like you. But this just isn’t going to work out between us.” I grabbed my purse and headed toward the door.
“Wait, you didn’t even eat your steak.”
“That’s okay. I’m not hungry anymore. I’ll see you later,” Blondie and I made a quick exit, both throwing up once outside.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Blondie hopped up next to me on the couch, shaking me out of the confused daze that came over me in light of the mess inside Gary's apartment. Sheba stayed off the furniture, curling up on her doggie bed in front of a fake fire place. In no time, Sheba was snoring away, loudly.
“She’s tired. She plays hard with Blondie.” Gary said as he pet Blondie lovingly. This one simple act made me feel much more comfortable.
“You have such a kind and gentle nature. It’s hard to imagine you robbing people,” I said as I leaned back on the couch. I felt something hard underneath me. I reached under the cushions and found an old can of dog food that had gotten lodged in there. I discreetly pulled it out while Gary’s attention was focused on opening a bottle of wine. I hoped it was Sheba who hid it there, and not her master. I placed it carefully next to the couch, wiping my hand on the carpet.
“My Mom died when I was only thirteen and I never knew my dad. I had to do something to survive,” he explained as he joined us on the couch, kissing the top of my dog’s head while handing me a glass of red wine. “I learned to live on the streets quickly. As I got older, I fancied myself a modern day Robin Hood only I robbed from the rich and gave to myself, the poor,” he looked up as he poured the wine. “I found that the best time to rob people was when they were throwing a party.”
“You mean you crashed parties and then stole from the host?”
“That’s exactly what I did,” he said grinning. “The bigger the party the better cuz I could get lost in the crowd. They usually hid the goods in their bathroom. Bandaid cans seemed to be the most popular hiding spot.”
“You’re kidding,” I said and sat back, knocking some loose papers off the back of the couch. They went flying behind us. I felt mortified but he didn't even seem to notice.
“I dressed up in my tux and went to the party then ducked out to the master bedroom, took the loot and slipped through a window.”
Monday, February 11, 2013
Gary's one bedroom apartment matched the outside of his drab and poorly looked after building. Located on the second floor, I followed him up the stairs as he got out his keys. He opened the door and stood back, motioning me to enter with a big smile on his face.
"After you," he said. I was shocked speechless at the total disaster; newspapers and magazines strewn all over the floor, an empty pizza box in the corner, dirty dishes and crusty old cans of dog food on the kitchen counter, several pairs tennis shoes in the living room. A dirty, fowl, musty smell lingered in the air that made me recoil.
Quickly, he pushed aside papers from his couch making room for us to sit. I imagined him spread out on that couch, watching tv or taking a nap using the garbage as his blanket. I thought it was so weird. I immediately plastered a counterfeit smile on my face, something I had learned to depend on to escaped the reality of certain situations. I thought about this cat burglar and how he had to be so well organized in order to burglarize million dollar homes in
Beverly Hills and get
away with the loot. Here he was living in complete filth. Why would he risk
his life like that to live like this?
Friday, February 8, 2013
When I finally reached
the parking lot he said “let me make this up to you. I have some steaks
defrosted at home and can put them on the BBQ Besides, you've never seen my
place. And we can bring the dogs inside with us.”
I may have been disappointed but I was still hungry. So I followed him this time to an ugly stucco beige colored two-story apartment building in the West Valley. It was the worst looking building on the busy street lined with tall palm trees. The building’s gardens were practically dead and the paint was peeling. I still had high hopes that his unit would be well-kept, clean and cozy. Maybe it would be filled with the jewels he stole as a cat burglar!
Thursday, February 7, 2013
After eating at just about every steak house in the San Fernando Valley, I finally convinced Gary to let me pick a restaurant for a change. I suggested sushi and he reluctantly agreed. As dusk was setting with a brilliant red, pink and blue sunset, we got in our cars and he followed me to a little hole in the wall on Ventura Boulevard that I knew served the freshest tuna in town.
It was a tiny place with a lively sushi bar that catered to a local crowd of loyal diners. Unlike Gary’s steakhouses, this restaurant was brightly lit with rock n’ roll music blaring in the background. Behind the chefs, the menu hung on the wall painted on wooden slates in black letters and corresponding red Japanese lettering. Fresh fish was kept in a glass display case on top of the wooden bar where Sushi Chefs worked their magic for the guests. There were a few individual tables but most patrons preferred to sit at the bar.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
One evening after a romp at the park with the girls, Gary asked me to dinner. I did not yet know that he was strictly a meat and potatoes man. I quickly learned that Gary frequented those steak houses that were so popular in the 1980s.
I had not entered a dimly lit steak house for years, opting instead for restaurants that served more healthy choices. Gary's idea of a good food centered around a raw steak with salad dripping in fattening blue cheese dressing and huge baked potatoes heaped in real butter. These establishments were always filled with neighborhood drunks that made me feel extremely uncomfortable by standing too close, breathing their awful smelling breath in my face. Gary was in his element. I thought what the heck, opposites attract, right?
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Blondie was so cleaver that she actually created some of her own games at the dog park. Her new friendship with Sheba seemed to be giving her more confidence. One thing the girls liked to do was chase dogs that were chasing balls. The bigger and meaner the dog the better. And if Blondie could sneak up on a big nasty canine just as they snatched the ball and get some of their tail fur in her mouth, score! Sheba egged her new friend on, encouraging her to find the baddest dog in the park to hustle. I didn’t like it at all. Gary thought it was amusing.
Another game she seemed to love was to sauntered up to other dogs, big dogs, and growled at them then ran as fast as she could behind Sheba when they turned around. This one made me especially nervous because it could get end up with serious consequences. Maybe her new friendship wasn't that good for her after-all. Sheba seemed to bring out the "bad-ass" in my Blondie. I had never seen this side of her before. So I concentrated on keeping Blondie moving and away from Sheba to make sure my dog wouldn’t end up as supper for some big pit bull. What I didn't realize was the wisdom of Blondie's actions. I didn't think back then that Sheba's owner, Gary, might bring out the "bad-ass" in me!
Monday, February 4, 2013
My Blondie and Gary's Sheba became fast friends. Blondie, my pound mutt, had long blonde hair that would blow in the breeze as she trotted by my side. In the winter, I dressed her in a pink turtleneck sweater that she loved. Sheba was a beautiful example of a pure bred Dobie with her muscular frame and powerful, toned body ripped with muscles that actually bulged when she moved, showing every detail of her thighs, chest and shoulders. Her pointed cropped ears stood straight up and her subbed tail wagged only when Gary spoke. Carrying herself with complete self assurance, she acted as if she owned the park and everything in it.
Sheba looked at once menacing and loving at the same time. Gary rarely had to correct her or put forward any commands. They seemed to have a relationship that went beyond words; it was as if Sheba could heard her owner's very thoughts and act accordingly. I never saw her growl or snarl but I could imagine how scary she could be if someone happened to run into her on a dark street. There was no messing with Sheba.
Blondie and Sheba were quite a pair. They didn’t play with the other dogs at the park. Oh sure they would greet other canines but neither was into playing with a ball or catching a Frisbee. They stood on the sidelines, watching the other dogs run and jump. It was as if playing was somehow beneath the two of them. Instead, they stood together, side by side, looking as though they were laughing at the other canines behaving like mere dogs.
Friday, February 1, 2013
Selecting a Doberman Pinscher as his lookout was the best choice Gary could have made. Originally used as guard dogs, watch dogs or police dogs, Dobermans are among the most common pets, well known as an intelligent, alert, and loyal companion dog. Gary proudly shared everything he knew about them.
“Dobermans were created by a German tax collector named Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann,” he enthusiastically explained. “This guy Dobermann had to travel to many dangerous places in his job, high crime areas, so he bred a dog for protection.”
I was completely fascinated by
Gary. He was
handsome, intelligent and loved his dog. It didn’t take long for me to realize
that he was a hustler at heart. Growing up in an upper middle class
neighborhood did not put me in contact with many Cat Burglars. I knew that he
was not someone I could introduce to my parents. I was not ready to give up my
dream of marrying someone my parents would accept. I was also too afraid of
being hurt again like I had been with Bobby so I didn’t want to begin a serious
relationship of any kind, keeping my distance emotionally. Our dates were never
planned or organized; we would just get together if we ran into each other at
the dog park.