Tar Baby

Nice, calm dog at rest. His name is Pancho. He's a hound.

So, on this one morning this week I find myself in the shade of an ancient pine, knocked down on my ass with my legs splayed in the air and speaking both loudly and bluely. How’d I get here?

School has started, even thought it’s before Labor Day, which simply makes me twitch since there should be more play for kids, but I digress.

When school starts, even when you aren’t going to school, even when nobody who lives with you is going to school, it seems like a new beginning. Some people think that spring is the beginning. It’s not. It’s the end of winter. When school starts, you turn a page. And you get new shoes.

In that spirit of freshness, despite desperately needing to see my colorist, I selected to be super-fresh. A little bit of bronzer across the bridge of my nose and swept along my cheeks. A dab of silver-white color at the inner eye. A pinky brown lipstick. And an office-appropriate little black dress with a sweet patent and fabric flat. The sun was shining from the dawn side, the air wasn’t burdened with water and there was enough breeze to ruffle hair.

I wrapped the pinch collar around The Beast’s thick neck and clipped on his leash. We were going to make a quick business stroll before I headed off to work. It was a morning that made you say the word, “fabulous.”

I won’t lie. I was feeling cute as I walked down our slate walkway and exited past the white picket fence to the sidewalk. The Beast was feeling the day, too. He looked up at me and wasn’t even sad that I had no pockets for treats. It was an excursion and a constitutional. And it was mostly a morning that made you look.

Turning the corner I saw the water crew. There was blocked sidewalk and men with hardhats. I don’t care that they weren’t actually looking at my saunter, because I knew that I was worth a look, with my ready-for-prime-time outfit and my hulking companion walking like a show dog on my loose lead. I turned the next corner feeling a preposterous level of confidence. Nay, cheek. In fact, hubris. As I would soon see.

Walking along at a quick clip, I checked my partner as we walked toward the place where he could see his nemesis, the train. I had his attention. We were just going to round this block. Then a big white panel van appeared.

Now this was, frankly, ridiculous. It is a known fact that he hates the postal truck. It is also known that he can recognize the U.S. Postal Service logo. The blue one with the stylized eagle. We know this because he gives a look to the FedEx truck and seeing the purple and orange letters loses interest. The PeaPod truck, also a big white boxy vehicle, only holds his tension until he sees the guy holding the grocery bag and reads the words PeaPod. Seriously, I actually believe that he can read.

But, this morning, this morning full of long strides, and spirit, and self-assurance and sunny skies, was interrupted by the white van carrying linens to the neighborhood bar & kitchen. As it turned the corner towards us, The Beast let out his full-throated bellow and pulled toward the street. Unhappy, but unsurprised, I planted my legs, pulled my arms closer to my chest and held the leather strap tight.

That’s when it happened.

The Beast and I were facing the street and the oncoming sketchy (only to him) truck, when from behind this likely certifiably insane cat pounced on the dog. Yeah. This stupid less than ten pound orange and white mange of fluff flies through the air like some ninja Garfield to ambush The Beast. It was pissed. And hissed.

The Beast reeled to his left to see this strange apricot creature filled with bloodlust. He immediately backed away with a genuine WTF look through his eyes and brow. And the friggin’, frightful feline came at him, again. As The Beast worked on his dodge and parry I became tangled up and was deposited without fanfare on my ass.

Be assured, however, that I was not passive during the attack. I was shocked and then angry. I expressed my displeasure at the cat in a verbal manner with much volume and many words that the two-year-old girl across the street should not be familiar with. As if the cat knew my words–most of which rhymed with truck, like “muthatruck,” “stupid truck,” and “what the truck?”–were threatening. But know this, Loyal Reader, they were said in a most aggressive and bellicose fashion.

The cat did not care.

The cat did not care that I was kicking at him and that I landed a foot. The cat did not care that the dog was eight to ten times his size with a mouth that could dispense with him in a minute. The cat just kept coming with back arched and teeth bared and a literal hissy fit.

I detangled myself from the leash and the dog trying to do the right thing by not responding to violence in kind and the maniac cat asserting and reasserting himself in his crazed territorial defense. I verbally expressed my disapproval in the most ineffective way possible as I pulled The Beast away from the attacking critter. And the cat kept on coming at him. Until we crossed the street.

There was something gross on my palm. It was sticky. I put my hand to my scrunched nose (really, who wanted to know what that was) to smell the pine. Pine tar. Another deposit of pine tar on my scraped elbow. I looked down at my bleeding feet, most likely from the dog stepping, but maybe a cat scratch, too. I was breathing fast and heavy. And my black dress, that I was going to top with a black and white checked jacket for the office? The entire back of it was coated in pine tar. Time for this morning’s second shower.

And that’s what you get when you think you’re cute.

Kittehzzelz and The Beast

It was a stunning morning. Cool without chill. Sunny without blaze. Perfect for a stroll, not just for business but for pleasure, too.

We walked past the Bobcat front loader at the end of the street. The Beast examined it with his snout and sprayed towards it with his leg lifted. We turned the corner.

The windows on the first floor apartment were open, letting in the day. They let out a tinny sound from a radio. I think it was smooth jazz.

We approached the end of the block, then what to our wondering eyes did appear? A Pokémon. In the wild.

Fortunately The Beast was nonplussed, even when it jumped up and down. Even when it was beating its wings. It was as if he didn’t see it. I held his lead tight as I captured the flapping bird. We were safe.

I don’t know much about our current infestation of these pocket monsters, except we’re supposed to catch them all. It didn’t appear, however, that The Beast would be of much use. I wondered whose side he was on. Still, I was grateful that he didn’t lunge at it as I really prefer my arms snug in my shoulder sockets.

We turned the corner heading toward the tracks. I did a mini face-palm when I realized I did not have any bribes–I mean treats–in my pocket. I usually put one in my hand as we approach where the train might appear. The damn dog can get downright ornery, barking and pulling and stepping on my feet and forcing me to step out of my shoes. The idea is to offer a treat as a distraction. Not that they do any good. It’s more so I feel like I can do something. It’s all an illusion.

We turned the next corner, heading closer to home. The walk had become blissfully uneventful. We walked past the treehouse where The Beast’s buddies lived. There was a panoply of water hazards in the yard: a small blow-up baby pool, a large blow-up big kids pool and a water table with little buckets, cups and spoons.There was a huge old tree that provided shade for the hazard takers. There were no hazard takers or dogs in sight, though.

We crossed the street to the house that has the huge side lot. The grass was freshly cut. It was cropped like Howie Long’s flattop, where it looks thick and lush for its exacting trim. I saw them first. The wild kittehzzelz.*

It was weird that my phone didn’t vibrate as we approached these mini-monsters. There were two kittehzzelz. One was gray and white and the other was orange. They were stretched out on the lawn enjoying the cool shade as it’d be a few hours before the sun made it over the house. As we approached, they flipped onto their bellies in unison. Their heads swiveled as one toward us. The Beast noticed these Pokémon in the wild. I knew because he was pulling me in their direction.

I planted my left leg as far away as I could and lunged or maybe lurched, literally dragging the dog. I gave a quick check to his collar. He took a step toward me. I decided to maintain speed and direction away from these creatures of interest. I didn’t have a tool to capture and dispose of them.

The Beast disagreed with me. He was trying to head to the kittehzzelz nest. I put my head down and squared my shoulder as I attempted a long stride away. He usually falls in line, but not this morning. Not only was he being civilly disobedient, but he was turned in the direction of opposition.

I yanked and dragged. He wasn’t budging. This was becoming very annoying. I tugged harder. So did he. He was intent on staying put. I turned around. I was shocked to see a crazy orange kittehzzelz almost nose to nose with the dog. The Beast was more curious than anything. Usually smaller creatures run away from his dangerous heft. Not this kittehzzelz. I’m like, is this thing rabid? Where’s its sense of danger? Then it happened.

The kittehzzelz was evolving from a medium sized ball of fluff to a more ferocious self. A kittehbobcat, maybe. It made itself much bigger. It changed its shape to increase it’s  girth by arching its  back. Its eyes were about twice the size of a minute ago. It spit, too.

I was all like, why the hell are you compelled to come up to my dog and get aggressive? I didn’t have a pokeball or anything–not even a treat–to throw at it. So I yelled at it. I was getting worried. I needed to get to work and I didn’t feel like pulling a vicious, rabid kittehbobcat off of my dog. And this vicious kittehbobcat sure seemed like it was ready to attack. Really. I am not making this up.

I threw my entire weight into pulling The Beast away from the mesmerizing monster. I dug my feet into the sidewalk to gain traction. I inched The Beast away, and the vicious kittehbobcat took two steps closer. Using my outside voice, I called it a mean cat. It spit again. The Beast let go of his protest and moved with me. He was still facing the vicious kittehbobcat, but at least he was now backing away. The kittehbobcat stood it’s ground and hissed and sprayed.

The Beast begrudgingly moved with me, but still had two eyes trained on the orange monster. I followed his gaze to see the vicious kittehbobcat turn, mockingly lift its tail and trot back to its companion. That one got away.

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* Loyal Reader, do NOT, tear apart your pokedeck trying to find this mythical creature. I think The Beast found the only one. Also, I made up this name.