For a start, when I woke up, Beans hobbled over on three legs. Beans is our nearly three year old flat-coat Retriever Doodle. We still view her as a puppy. A puppy with four legs. Which is why I couldn't understand why she was hopping toward me when I got out of bed. Beans, I quickly deduced, had gotten into Grady's room during the night. Beans, I further figured, had jumped up on his bed, a violation of doggie rules in our house. Rules in our house are in flux at the moment. The bugs have us that wigged out. Beans, I could see, had laid on the glue trap I'd laid on Grady's bed. Beans has long-ish black hair. And the uber-sticky pest trap glue had affixed her usually gangly right front paw to her body. I was shocked. Stunned. Had no idea what to do. I laughed. Really hard. I looked Beans in the eye. She looked scared. So I stopped laughing.
I ran to our room and got a sock. Ran back to Beans, who was laying on her back at the bottom of the stairs. It looked as if she'd contemplated this glu-motional rescue all night. Without any regard for how it was actually going to work out, I put one hand on Beans' body and began slowly pulling the glue trap away from her fur. If you are inclined to cringe at stories like this, now is the best time to do so. In fact, I'm cringing as I recall the disgrossting (a fave word of Pablo's) scene that appeared. How my sick mind told me that it would be a good idea to put a sock on her paw after disconnecting the glue from her body is beyond my comprehension. But, you know what? It worked....
I called Jo Ann. Asked her what to do next. She told me to take Beans to Darla's, the dog salon. Great idea. I would have probably left the sock on her for a day and asked 50 people what to do. My brain goes blank at times like these. Our friend Richard Cawsey, who's from Sydney and has been staying at James and Vanessa's place this week, drove with me to Darla's. Beans cried the way dogs cry when their owners leave them in places stacked with other dogs and shampoo and water. Beans is such a goofball that she stopped crying the minute something fun caught her eye. She ran it, turned back toward me, cried a bit, turned back toward the fun thing, and ran away. With the sock on her paw.
Without our canine passenger, Richard and I stopped at the Starbucks down the block. We parked in front of Black Eyed Peas' studio. I was excited to point it out to Richard. I try to be a good LA host, yknow? We parked at a meter. Didn't put any money in it. 'Parking checkers don't patrol side streets,' I thought to myself. We headed to the coffee spot. Ordered. Walked to grab our drinks. The barista—a woman I know by sight, and have known by sight for a long time—looked up at us as she was sliding a cup onto the counter.
'How's Pablo doing?' she asked.
I could feel my body shudder. Richard looked at me. I didn't look back at him. Just felt secure knowing that he had my back. Part of me wanted to run. F*** the coffee. Part of me—the real part—inhaled deeply, opened my eyes, looked at her, and said the truth.
'Pablo passed away.'
I said it. For the first time. To someone who had no idea. Who hadn't heard. Who was just outside the footprint of our social circle. And the ring of life outside that. And the 150 outside that. Even in this world, where we all like to talk about how we're all too connected, we're all 'on' too much, we're all Twitter and Facebook voyeurs, someone in the ZIP code next to ours hadn't heard that Pablo. Is. Gone.
And so it happened. Someone asked me for the first time. It hurt. It felt like sliding on ice downhill in the dark. And then it didn't. When it didn't was when I exhaled and just said the words. The truth. Our barista friend replied the way you'd think she did. She was exasperated. It told her it was OK, she couldn't have known. Once that moment passed, she did precisely what I'd hoped she would: she started talking about Pablo. Telling us her memories of Pablo. All the times she'd seen him come in, grab a milk out of the cooler. That he'd stand on the counter (with my help). That she'd seen him not long ago, with Jo Ann. That he was a total cutie.
And that's how it goes.
You go in for a coffee. And you walk out crying. You walk out with more than four shots of espresso. You walk out feeling a human connection. You walk out knowing that it wasn't all a dream. That it really did happen. Life.
When we returned to the car, a parking violations officer was, in fact, on the side street where we parked. And she was, in fact, writing a ticket. For our car. I asked her if there was anything else she could write us up for. She laughed. And handed the ticket to Richard. We jumped in the car laughing our a**es off.
It was only 10:30 a.m. and we felt like we had rolled through an entire week. If you'd call glue, Beans, tears + tickets an entire week....