I’m in Nordstrom looking like I’ve been tarred and dog-haired.
“Can I help you?” “….find a shower somewhere?” I finish the sentence in my head.
“I’m good,” I mumble, keeping my baseball cap- covered head low, like that might disguise my odor. It was around 3:30 in the afternoon. At seven that morning I’d run 5.7 miles with two two-footed girlfriends, getting home just in time to throw my four- footed pals into the floppy roofed Jeep and head to the vet for their 9am appointment.
Lillian doesn’t mind Dr. P too much. Delilah is more skeptical about him. He rocks my doggie world.
Delilah went first. I thought she would be a little skittish. She was satanic. It took three of us to hold her down for shots. After that, apparently Dr. P had chosen some sort of medieval tool to trim her nails, as she was literally shrieking. I looked at his hands more closely. He had not. It was 9:15. Why didn’t they sell cocktails here?
Lilly was easier. Dogs live in the moment. We left the vet at 9:23. By 9:23:01 they were happy again. I was shell shocked. And caked with dog hair.
We went to the dog park, where a recent layer of snow had created more mud, which mixed into a tacky paste with the hair and my now 8- hour- old sweat. Then we went to Nordstrom. The girls stayed in the car.
“You’re making your second pass, so you clearly need some assistance,” said the helpy, perfectly well put together and handsome menswear salesman. No. Consultant.
“Okay, here’s the deal,” I said, keeping my distance, “I am going on a third date tonight. Third.” I held up three gritty fingers for emphasis.
“And you’re getting him something?”
“Well, that’s just it. It’s his birthday.”
“Oh yeah, you gotta get him something.”
“I know. I ordered a stuffed bulldog online but it hasn’t arrived yet and it’s tonight.”
“A stuffed bulldog?”
“Well, he – yes.”
He camouflaged an involuntary eye roll.
“What’s your price range?”
“It’s only our third date!”
He led me dutifully from table to table. He showed me a plaid number.
“Straight guys wear that?”
“Well, what does he like?”
“Me, I guess.”
He ever so subtly glanced below my gaze. I kicked a mud crumb under the table. I bought a tie.
The make-up department girls looked at me wistfully as I bolted out of the store. No. Out of the experience.
I went home, and pulled into the driveway as the UPS guy arrived and handed me the bulldog. It would now be a tie-wearing bulldog.
A shower and some shaving later, we were at dinner, after which, I presented the over-dressed dog.
He complimented the tie and gave the dog a squeeze. The waiter brought us a dessert to share. He (the date, not the waiter) set the tie aside. He continued to occasionally pick up the dog, looking into its poofy, smushed -up little face.
Being a chronic dog-squeezer myself, I find this promising.
This edition dedicated to Gates, in honor of a life well lived in support of one of our nation’s great “hospitalitans.”