“When you show up at the Craigslist house and every member of the household is female, including, like, their parakeets.”
“Yeah. And they’re sitting in lawn chairs in the yard, eating spaghetti.”
“A little quirky, so you remember them forever. Not remarkably different, not different enough to remark on. Just different enough.”
“Which this isn’t.”
The dog park was ok. We watched dogs run around and jump on each other under a sign that said “Dog Heaven” while their owners huddled and talked about dogs. They didn’t seem like dog people necessarily, but dogs are a thing right now and some people like to do the things that are things. The conversation petered out while our dog tried a few half-hearted laps around the perimeter.
We let ourselves off the hook easier than the dog park released us. In order to leave, you have to navigate a series of locked gates designed to keep dogs inside Dog Heaven no matter how badly they want to escape. We fiddled with a bolt. “Is the outside world Dog Hell?” Our dog looked anxious to get there.
We also had to navigate some watery conversations designed to make us feel like we were all on the same team. I guess we’re on the same team; I like people and I like dogs. I just don’t think people invented dogs. Not recently, anyway. When they added cars, schools and neighborhoods to the list of Things, we stepped up our efforts to escape. These weren’t bad people, just wild-eyed instead of wide-eyed.
Finally outside the last gate, we left Dog Heaven. Our dog looked intensely relieved. We probably did, too. “Let’s forget about the dog park.”
“I already did.”
Climbing into our truck isn’t easy; you do so over a pile of surfboards and snake tanks. Our truck’s name is Minty, after our old Great Dane. He breathes similarly, and he’s a big doofus who’s always on our side. Pulls us to where we’re going, even if we didn’t originally know where we were headed.
High noon, California sun straight over Minty’s roof. Minty has no air conditioning, really. He tries, sort of whistles coolness and then gives up. It was hot, no apologies. “And when the Craigslist women offer you a plate of spaghetti and a lawn chair? It doesn’t matter that their bike has no chain or their guitar has no strings, cuz they’re super cool. They can’t help it. Every day, they’re building this…invention. Their life is an invention.”
“People trying to be on the same team don’t want to invent anything. That would embarrass them.”
“Well…god bless ’em.”
Our dog panted happily and lay down between us. She doesn’t like running or jumping or playing or anything dog heavenly. She likes spaghetti, though. And parakeets. She’s invented a couple of unremarkable quirks that I’ll remember forever. She’s real life. All my favorite bands are eating spaghetti in lawn chairs, too; nobody watching. The bands I don’t like are huddled together, deep inside forgettable, doing the things that are things so that people can see them doing those things. God bless ’em.
Minty wheezed us back to the Days Inn Encinitas which is what we’re currently calling home. Essentially living in a Denny’s parking lot: American Heaven. We’re leaving soon, though, so we’re taking life pictures. Dana, coming from an AA meeting, holding an unlit joint by the pool: “I used to hate people, now I love them. They work so hard.”
Terence, in maintenance, accepting a piece of pizza: “Why go home? If somebody needs you, that’s your home. That’s where you’re supposed to be.”
Sam, two rooms down from us: “I’m so sleepy, I could lie down right here and sleep. But I wouldn’t laugh if I didn’t have kids.”
Maria, housekeeping: “Look, the rabbits and the birds. Look at them.”