Thursday, January 28, 2010

Valentine smart-ass

I have a million Valentine stories.

I believe what Mama used to tell me: If you get too big for your britches, someone will take you down a notch or two. Yes, she really talks like that. Usually what takes me down a notch is Fate or karma or the Force or the universe at large.

When I was in sixth grade, I was a smart-ass, but hardly anyone at school knew that, because I didn't talk that much. Ever since my parents had lied me all the way from Honolulu to the god-forsaken frozen prairie of Illinois two years before, I had drawn my mouth up into a tiny anus and refused to cooperate. I scowled in silence. I demanded mangoes and fresh pineapple and sugar cane. I didn't get what I wanted. People I didn't even know felt free to tell me how cute I would be if I would smile.

Make me, I'd think to myself.

What gave me a great deal of pleasure at that time was to be better than any of my classmates. I could draw and write, and I loved to hear how wonderful it was so I could blow off the compliments with my snotty eyebrows. I was wearing a cloak of meanness, and it was a good thing because that place was freezing.

So...sixth grade, and Valentine's Day was approaching. Mrs. Guthridge told us that we would have a contest. Each student would bring a box to decorate, as our Valentine mailbox. We would vote on the winning design. I knew then that I was going to win.

Most kids brought a shoe box, so I was ahead already. I had a shirt box, with a large surface for decorating. I was going 3-dimensional. This thing was elaborate. I covered it with little lace-doily umbrellas with bendy-straw handles and red and pink hearts, and plenty of glitter. It was beautiful. I sat in my sullen bubble and waited for the votes to be counted. I was the winner. Of course.

I acted like it didn't mean a thing to me, but I felt good inside my bubble of superiority. I might have to put up with these dumb farm kids referring to my birthplace as HY-why-ya and asking me if that was why I had slanty eyes, but I enjoyed my hateful thoughts.

The day of the Valentine's party, we took our boxes full of candy and bad puns and cheap little envelopes home with us. I had to walk six blocks, and the wind was sharp. The kids with the shoe box mailboxes just tucked them under their arms and went on their ways. My shirt box caught the wind and escaped like a kite. The whole box flew up into the air, sailed right into Mr. Gordon's tree, and burst open. My Valentines flew away like birds.

Goes to show you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dance like #612 Moe - Chihuahua

I love dogs, but I had no intention of adopting another one anytime soon--until someone sent me an email link to a little Chihuahua named Moe, who was living out at the Anderson County animal shelter, where they do euthanize dogs when they are overcrowded.

In the ad on Petfinder, he looked so sad and pitiful. The shelter was offering a bargain on adoption fees in hopes of enticing people to rescue animals before the holidays. I kept checking back to see if someone had adopted him, but there Moe sat.

Finally I decided I had to go see him. Perhaps there would be a reason we weren't right for each other. He'd be too grouchy or ugly or mean. He'd make it plain that he didn't want to live with me. It would be obvious that he would never fit into our furry little family. If we didn't like each other, then I would wish him the best and stop thinking about him.

Nope. He was a teeny little big-headed imp who weighed less than four pounds but didn't seem to notice. I just loved his attitude. And he loved me as soon as I understood that his business was to dance and mine was to feed him dry cereal for his trouble.

He sleeps curled up on my shoulder with his head in the hollow of my neck. He makes little baby noises when I cuddle him. He bites me whenever he wants to express his displeasure. We're working on that, but after all he is a Chihuahua.

He dances so joyously. First he throws his arms up over his head, then he spins on his back legs so fast that I'm not yet sure how he does it. He throws himself into it, turns 360 degrees, stops on a dime for Rice Chex or a pretzel. If I don't have something edible to offer, he spins again. And again.

He makes me laugh. A smile is worth a million bucks some days.

He makes me think, too. Makes me tell myself, I should dance joyously again sometime.

P.S. After a day at our house being called "the little guy," #612 Moe revealed that his secret dog name is Bob Bobby Boblet Bobert.