Sunday, July 10, 2005

The absence of my dogs

I have returned without my dogs to an empty house. With all the excitement this weekend surrounding the landfall of Hurricane Dennis, and the trip to Wilmington, I became quite worked up to a level of adrenaline that has now dropped off. Since I have been home, I have found myself feeling quite alone.

It was nice to be with Mom, my siblings and my niece, and my old family of dogs. When I left, I watched as Zelda climbed into a car to stay with my niece and sister for the next 40 days and I left Greta sitting in her opened cage in the general company of Goose and my mom at mom’s house.

I called my friends in Durham when I returned home to catch up with them and then decided to go to a local restaurant for a pasta and chicken breast dinner. While waiting for my food, I watched the people at the table in front of me. They were almost uniformly obese, even though they wore expensive clothing to hide their folds of flesh. In addition, I couldn’t help but notice that one of the men had attained the age of at least 30 without having been taught how to properly hold a knife and fork while cutting meat. It made me sad at first, then it made me look around at the other patrons in this place. His other male companion was ignoring all conversation at their table as he tackled a plate of King Crab legs that he alternated feeding to his wife and then to himself. They were all obese, all eating huge steaks or sucking ribmeat and fat off pig bones or attacking king crab in butter.. The snippets of conversations that I could overhear were uniformly of small-minded topics, like beer, breeding, beatings and Bush. I began to feel even more alone.

Having answered a craving for angel hair, I had ordered a plate of pasta with meat sauce. On its arrival, I was horrified to find that it was prepared with a recipe that normally would be reserved for making candy. There must have been a couple of cups of sugar to snuff out the acidity of the tomatoes in the meat sauce. I have rarely been so disgusted that I couldn’t eat, but there is always a first time for anything. Tonight I found one. I ate the grilled chicken breast and my salad and then asked for my check. The waitress noticed that I had not touched the pasta and wanted to know what was wrong. I explained that I am diabetic and that there was too much sugar in the meat sauce. I heard her ask if she should tell her manager and I said that it wasn’t necessary. The last thing I wanted was to get into a recipe war with a restaurant manager who could no doubt recite a list of names of people who found that very meat sauce delicious when they were cutting it with knife and fork and shoveling it in.

So I left the restaurant and returned to my lonely sad house to contemplate a journey of 40 days through seven foreign countries. I thought of my sad dogs, pining for me, or worse, not missing me at all as they played with their new friends. It finally came to me that I just need to pack and get on the road.

There is nothing like a strip search in plain view of an airport full of people to make you lose any sense of anxiety about what you are leaving behind. I am already thinking of wearing slip on shoes, tie on pants and button-less shirts for my outward bound trip.

Since I don’t leave before Wednesday, check back tomorrow for a couple of stories I heard from visiting with the family. If not, keep the fort safe while I am gone and I will see you in late August!

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