Jupiter and Mars get a little discombobulated. This causes some sort of ripple in the time-space continuum, and Jane lands in an alternate reality.
I cheerfully drove myself to a non-existent appointment in a little town one highway over. After much flipping of office appointment book pages, and concerned, mystified apologies on both our parts (we don’t know who goofed, and in the scheme of things, does it really matter?), I left with a new appointment card, and a dog who seriously needed a bathroom, and just as seriously won’t use anything but green grass.
Wolfie-the-Westie’s owner said there’s a nice dog park here now. Close. I drive.
I used to live here. Even though it had it’s annoying moments (really, how many raw-food-movement cafe’s can a one-street town support?!), I enjoyed the everything-goes, relaxed, pseudo-hippy, we-CAN-all-get-along atmosphere. There seemed to be no clash of cultures. It is a town that likes festivals: The Psychic Fair, The Rotary Club Dinner, The Goddess Festival, The Orchard Parade, The Veterans of Foreign Wars Pancake Breakfast at the fire station, The Nature Spirit Craft Fair, The Tractor Parade and Crab Feed. Community Theator that often involved nakedness (In the Methodist Community room). Open Mic Poetry night at O’Leary’s Pub and Sushi Bar. Lots of tie dye.
One Main street. two stop lights, Whole Foods store…
The Whole Foods near our house makes a dinner-plate sized cinnamon roll drenched in frosting. It’s An Experience.
Ooooo…I skipped breakfast…
Whole Foods is right on the way to the dog park! I take it as a sign that I get the only parking spot with shade.
Geeze, the pastry section here is miniscule. I peruse the one, lonely little bamboo-wood pastry case, looking for my Experience. Not only is it not there, the selection of appropriately near-death pastries has vanished. In their place?
- a whole wheat, carob-chip croissant made with soy milk and bananas (no butter!)
- a shrunken, leaden looking purple bagel (Vegan!)
- a bear claw (?) made with organic almonds, sustainably grown cinnamon, and no sweetener (as in zip, nada, not even organic hand-tapped Artisan maple syrup from a small family farm.)
- a vegetarian buckwheat muffin (I didn’t realize non-vegetarian muffins existed? Are there pork chop muffins in production somewhere?)
No fluffy, buttery, pastry dripping sugar.
A guy elbowed me. “Hey, could you make up your mind?” Oh. I’m blocking the wheatgrass juice line.
I leave empty handed, and very sad.
It’s a little town with big opinions. It was here that I was informed McDonald’s, Republicans, and the Devil are in a big conspiracy. The town protested McDonald’s like they protested the Vietnam war. Years later, in a weird concession, the city council granted McDonald’s a permit as long as they remained outside official city limits, had minimal signage, and used local organic produce on their Big Macs.
Focus, Jane. Dog park!
The county park that hosts the dog park is stunning. Amazingly wild vistas, watered grass soccer fields, miles of trails through untouched old growth oak trees. Modern playgrounds coexisting with land left to be land. Nice.
Okay. Now entering The Real World in which white sugar exists.
The dog park is wonderful: fresh, deep tanbark, plastic wading pools full of clean water, new tennis balls everywhere. There’s shade, benches, happy-looking people with their little dogs running around. This was a good idea.
Per dog park etiquette we all oooh and ahhh over each other’s dogs, exchange smiles, and laugh at antics. Normal.
Chihuahua Owner (CO): He’s cute. Was he a rescue?
Mini-Poodle Owner (MPO): What’s his name?
They all look at each other. What? What am I missing? MPO rummages around in her fanny pack.
CO: Have you considered naming him Happy Holidays? You could call him Happy. (she lowers her voice) It’s less alienating.
Owner of Weird Looking Corgi (OWLC): How old is he?
Jane: We’re going to say he’s 2 years old in November. We got him in November, and the vet said he was about ten months old.
CO: Oh! That explains it.
CO: He’s so outgoing.
Jane: ????? (I am still clueless)
CO: (Huffs) Well, November! He’s a Scorpio. They’re very outgoing.
OWLC: Oh yes, they are! Mine’s a Capricorn. I don’t think they get along with Scorpios, do they? (She looks at Chihuahua Owner)
CO: Maybe you should separate them.
I look over at Christmas: he’s plopped in the shade, busily licking the Capricorn Corgi’s face. She’s plopped down, and licking him back. It’s a love fest. They both roll over on their backs, feet in the air, and see if they can still lick each other’s faces upside down. OWLC looks at me nervously. Will I lose it if she asks me to remove my potentially dangerous Scorpio?
You have got to be kidding me. I just told them WE MADE HIS BIRTHDAY UP. Grace the “corgi” is the size and weight of a basset hound, with a beagle tail. She is 3 times the size of Christmas. I look over at MPO for help. She’s pulled a teeny library-sized pencil out of her fanny pack, and a small notepad. I think she must be slightly deaf. She doesn’t appear to have followed this conversation.
MPO: What did you say his name was? I want to write it down. It hurts their feelings if you don’t remember their names. You know, for next time.
She looks up at me expectantly, pencil poised. They all nod in agreement. It hurts their feelings! I wonder if they know each other’s names.
Jane: (Politely) It’s Christmas. Thanks. I think he’s had enough play time though. (I reach for the leash snap: Grace’s owner looks enormously relieved.)
MPO: (laboriously) C H R I S T M A S? Like the holiday?
CO: (interupts) You know, Happy is a really nice name…
MPO: (puzzled) His name is Happy Christmas? That doesn’t make any sense. It should be Merry Christmas. You know. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I pull my dangerous offensively-named Scorpio fluff ball off his back. He’s wiggling, still trying to lick the air near Grace. Grace sits up, points her nose to the sky and Ahrrrooooow’s in disappointment.
I leave them arguing about why he can’t be renamed Merry, because then it would still be about Christmas, when it should be about Happy, which is non-offensive. Or maybe Happy is offensive too, since not everyone’s New Year starts on the same date! I could solve this problem by naming him Harry.
I run before they can Yoo-Hoo me.