Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Like a Bad Penny, She Always Turns Up...

I always knew it would happen.  I didn’t know how.  I didn’t know when.  But like the fabled bad penny that always turns up again, I knew it was just a matter of time before I would run into CB somewhere.  For years, I've taken a second look anytime I've seen a woman of her build and coloring walking down the street.  I'm not exactly sure what I expected.  That she'd be the (well-dressed and well-coiffed) bag lady that she always feared she'd become?  That I'd take another marketing job for a bank -- and she'd be there?  That she'd have an affair with the husband of a friend or acquaintance?  I'll tell you what I didn't expect: that I would run into her outside of my apartment building and find out that she has lived here for more than a year.  Amazingly, though, it's this last option that seems to be true.

A little background: my 12-year-old son has wanted a dog his whole life.  One of his first three words was “dog.”  His favorite toy as a baby was a stuffed Labrador retriever (it went everywhere with him for years - I don't think there is a photo of him as a toddler that doesn't include her).  He long considered Jenny, my sister’s Chocolate Lab, his favorite cousin -- he would tell about visiting her with the same enthusiasm that most kids his age reserve for a trip to Disneyland.  By the time he was four, we had the full collection of Scooby-Doo dvds (and do you know how many of those suckers there are?!).  Every Christmas and at every birthday, he’d make the inevitable request, and DH and I would always turn him down: he had to wait to have a dog until he was old enough to walk his puppy around the neighborhood himself.  When he was little, it seemed like the perfect solution.  We didn’t need to break his precious heart by telling him “no” – we just had to encourage him to have patience.  

Well here’s the thing: kids grow up a lot faster than we expect them to and so suddenly last summer, we found ourselves with a persistent pre-teen who insisted that we make good on our promise.  He argued that if the NYC Dept. of Education expects 6th graders to get to school by themselves (and it’s true – he is no longer eligible for the yellow school bus for his 2-mile journey to school, he was simply handed a MetroCard instead), that is certainly proof that he’s old enough to travel around town by himself.  Yet another reason to hate the DOE!

A complicating factor is that DH is allergic to dogs.  My son, however, was well-prepared for this with a long list of breeds that are said to be hypoallergenic.  DH did some online research about these breeds (looking for some that aren't too big or small, are easy to train, friendly, etc.) and decided we should get a Goldendoodle.  Within a few weeks, we had a new member of the family.

I think we all know what comes next.  Despite my son's assurances that he'd take full responsibility for the dog, walking him, feeding him, and so forth, the bulk of the puppy care quickly fell to me.  And so it was that I found myself walking around the neighborhood at all hours of the day and night for six weeks or so last summer as little goldie was housebroken.  I guess that it took this situation -- me being out of my usual schedule -- finally to run into CB.

Not surprisingly, given her devotion to her terrier so many years ago, it was the pup, not me, that she noticed first.  She was with her beau (another married man?  clearly they live together) when we met.  After she oohed and aahed over the puppy (everyone does; she's hardly alone in this - it is rare for me to take him for a walk and not have someone comment about how adorable he is), I said something about it being nice to see her again.  She looks largely the same -- and apparently is still not working.  She said something about dabbling in real estate for a while but that now "we" are retired.

I've seen her one other time in the mail room, and then again today at the cash machine.  Amazing that we know each other, live in the same building, and yet run across each other so infrequently. But then, I'm not complaining about that!



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