Through trial, error, and encounters with a particularly barky Doberman who lives at a house where his owner’s license plate reads “Queen,” Edsel and I have discovered an evening constitutional that usually involves seeing no dogs. Each day that we accomplish this, we feel the thrill of victory.
If we see dogs, we feel the agony of defeat similar to that one guy’s agony of defeat who tumbles off the ski mountain and rips down the sign.
I guess that’s more what I feel. What Edsel feels is, “WOO WOOO WOOO WOOO WOOO. EDZUL KILL YOU FOR EXIST. WOOO WOO WOOO. DO YOU NOT NO EDZ ONLY DOG ALLOW TO EXIST!?!? WOOO!”
Our successful no-dogs constitutional involves walking to one of our dead-ends, then to another, then to a school parking lot, an Elks Club parking lot and a church parking lot. If we feel really walky, we head to Forest’s cemetery. Then we retrace our steps home.
Because there is a plague, both the school and the Elks lots are empty. Once Eds and I climbed the stairs of the Elks and saw a youngish girl inside and she and I and Eds all got frighted. I still don’t know what the hell she was doing in there. Was she an Elks ghost?
Because it’s the South, there are sometimes people parked in that church parking lot, because Southern people gonna get their God on, plague or no plague. But we still rarely see people. Just their God squad cars.
I’m telling you all these fairly dull facts to tell you how ridiculous I’ve been about the soccer field, which is attached to the back of the school.
Back in the fall, there were kids in the soccer field, so we’d avoid said field if we heard playing. When Edsel meets children, he winds his leash around my legs and hides behind me.
And by the way, when I was in high school, the only kids who played soccer were the (fairly hot) exchange students. Sometime in that brief, you know, 40 years since high school and now, it’s required that every kid in America play soccer. What even is that?
Anyway, now it’s winter and no one plays soccer just like all the soccer fields of 1983, so Eds and I walk across the fallow field as part of our constitutional. He doesn’t pee on it. It’s not part of his balanced pee-fast. Which made no sense. What I’m saying is I don’t let my dog pee on the soccer field that kids then play on, because for some reason I’m supposed to think kids are more important than dogs, which I don’t.
My point is this.
For months now, I’ve wanted to drop the leash when we’re in the field. I’ve wanted to drop the leash and let him frolic. I never do, though, because I think the minute I do is when someone else will finally show up and let their dog go free in that field, and then Edsel will gleefully gut the free Pekinese with his underbite fang and drink its guts with a grin.
But the other day I looked past the leafless trees. I could see all around me, and clearly no one was anywhere. We had the field all to ourselves.
Fuck it, I told myself. I’ll let the dog frolic, just this once.
So I dropped the leash.
I dropped the leash and watched Edsel, expecting him to pull a Tallulah-level freedom dash across that soccer field. I expected him to be a blur of free dog joy, prancing across that brown field like he was a soccer ball kicked by the exuberance of life.
Edsel looked down at his fallen leash. Then he looked underbitedly up at me. Then he looked down at his leash again.
“You’re free, Edsel!” I told him, like I was Abraham Lincoln.
“Prance, Edsel, prance!”
I may have even run a little myself, to try to encourage him to, you know, feel how loose, high, and free he was.
Edsel, his face nothing but concern, his brows knitted, picked the leash up with his mouth and trotted after me. Everywhere I tried to run, he trotted after me with his leash in his mouth. Whenever he’d catch up to me, he’d nudge me with his leashed mouth.
When I was a kid, I used to announce when it was my bedtime.
I guess Eds takes after me. Not following the rules makes him feel anxious.
Edsel seems to thrive on our routine. I think if he were a person, he’d be the kind of person who eats the same thing for breakfast every day. I realize he actually does eat the same thing for breakfast every day, but you know what I mean.
He had no desire to frolic and break the rules. It made him bothered as heck, is what it did.
So I took the leash like I was supposed to, and we headed back home on our normal route. His brows unknitted immediately.