GROWING OLD WITH GRACIE

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Western Maryland, United States

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm Glad I Didn't Listen to The Voice Inside My Head

 In honor of Gracie's birthday today, I'm sharing Chapter Five

of 

Gracie's Diary, A Memoir.


Chapter Five
It's a Girl


     It was our first night in the new house, and I didn’t sleep well.  Boxes lurked eerily in corners transforming into shadows of intruders as the night progressed.  I missed the familiar and comfortable house back in Frostburg and wondered if this place would ever feel like home. My light sleep kept being interrupted by crazy dreams and finally I grabbed my robe and went to the living room after I dreamt two drunken hillbillies were sawing away at the bars in the basement windows trying to get in.
     It was good to get to the office later and away from the just-moved-in mess of boxes and chaos.  The day was slow, so I sat at my desk reading the classifieds in the newspaper and highlighting some listings of odds and ends furniture, a hauling company for our unwanted stuff piled in the back yard, and a sale on Cockapoo puppies, the buff color having caught my eye. 
    “Look at this,” I said, handing Gary the paper. “Cockapoo puppies only $350… and the same color as our carpet.”   White carpet + white dog = no mess.  Was there something wrong with my way of thinking? Was my lack of sleep affecting my ability to make any sense at all?  I was 99% sure this was not the right time so I left him with that thought.  A few minutes later he handed me a check.
     “Go get your puppy,” he said.
     “What?” I asked.  I could feel a hot flash coming on.
     “Go ahead, get your puppy.  It’ll be an early Christmas present. You’ve wanted a dog ever since I met you.”  Something wasn’t right.  I’d never seen that compulsive side of Gary.  His newfound optimism was cautiously refreshing, and his lips were oozing words that I was not about to let him take back once he came to his senses.
     I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him. “Are you serious?” I asked.  We were both exhausted from the move and I wasn’t sure this was the right thing to do.  But when opportunity knocks, it’s best to answer.  I was in. 
     “Merry Christmas,” he said as I grabbed the check and disappeared out the door before he had a chance to change his mind.
     I stopped at the pet store first and got a carrier, a collar and leash, some food and treats and a puppy book before I began my two-hour trek to Pennsylvania.
       Hours later my car pulled into the winding driveway of a picturesque Mennonite farm. A small girl in a long dress and bonnet greeted me as I got out of my car and was bombarded by a half-a-dozen yapping jumpers, all seeming to say, “Pick me, pick me!” 
      I chose a curly blond one and asked, “Male or female?”
     “Male,” she answered. 
     I had my heart set on a girl.  Disappointed, I put him down promptly detaching myself from him and checked out the others.   “What about that one?”  I pointed to a curly, darker colored one. 
     “That’s a male too,” she said. 
     The boys were so much prettier.   Pointing to the shy white pup that had been hiding behind the girl’s long plaid dress I asked,  “Boy or girl?”  
     “It’s a girl,” she said. 
     "Come here sweetie," I cooed, coaxing her from behind her safe place then scooping her up into my arms and pulling her soft scared face next to mine. “I’ll take her,” I said, inhaling her puppy breath as she licked my cheek.  The others jumped, nudged and barked at me hoping I’d change my mind but I held tight to the timid one and named her Gracie, after the bashful and sweet wife of the infamous George Burns.
     Inside the farmhouse I wrote out a check and signed some papers.  “She’s pretty much house trained,” the girl said, standing in the spacious and spotless kitchen.  The pup scampered around on the shiny linoleum floor, and then squatted, leaving something to remember her by.  
     Gracie trembled as I loaded her into her carrier in the back seat of the car and then she started bawling and  before the car hit the end of the gravel driveway her nervousness exploded throughout the new carrier.  “Ewwww… Gracie!”  I said, putting my window down.  Then the voice inside my head... Turn the car around.  You’ve picked the wrong pup. I kept driving. 
     She howled and pranced in her poop the whole way home.  Gracie Allen would never have acted that way.  The smell was sickening.  Just forty-five minutes from home a detour on the interstate added another half hour to my trip.  The stress was starting to build.
     Finally, I backed my car under the carport, pulled Gracie from the carrier and toted her at arm’s length down the steep steps as she wriggled and whined trying to get free. 
     “Oh no you don’t,” I scolded.  “You’re getting a bath.”
     Eight pounds of trembling puppy pleaded with sad eyes as I placed her in the bath, and after washing all the poop away I bundled her in a soft towel and pulled her close to my face. 
     “It’s okay, little girl,” I said.  “Mommy will take care of you… and Daddy will be home soon. He’s going to love you!”  Minutes later  Gracie scampered nervously to greet Gary at the door and he kneeled down beside her. 
     “You’re a real cutie,” he said as she jumped into his arms.
     “You wouldn’t have thought that an hour ago,” I said. 
     We put up barricades to protect the white carpet from Gracie who was nervously peeing and pooping in fifteen-minute intervals on the shiny kitchen floor.  An end table, a living room chair and a bookcase kept her from real trouble.   After observing her bathroom habits, I took her out for potty  minutes before her next spill was due, but she was too interested in smelling the ground and bouncing around being cute to do her business where she was supposed to do it.  After I brought her back inside, she squatted and let loose.  
     “I think she needs smaller confines,” I said.  So we sectioned off a part of the kitchen calling it Gracie’s corner.  A long bench flipped onto its side, a big box of stuff, and a five-gallon jug of water separated her and her cage from the rest of the kitchen.  “That’s better,” I said.  “At least now her mess won’t be all through the kitchen.”  She looked sad as we walked away, and guilt consumed me because I was secluding her from the rest of the house, but as I turned to take one last look at her sad  face I noticed that she wasn’t sad at all and was trotting happily next to me into the living room.  “Gracie!” I said. “How did you get out?”  The walls handiwork in Gracie’s corner revealed a flaw in its construction so I stuffed a towel into the little opening that I hadn’t noticed before, and then placed her back in her corner.  This time she didn’t look so sad, and five minutes later she pranced into the living room ferociously tossing the towel into the air and catching it again.  I was tired and not amused.  I just wanted to go to bed. Then the voice, enjoy you’re new puppy… idiot.
      I helped Gary bring up an old door from downstairs and we firmly placed it where the other smaller barriers had been. Gracie whined as we left her behind in her own little space, and she finally gave up and went into her cage to sleep.

Dear Diary,
I’ve been kidnapped.  They keep calling themselves Mommy and Daddy, and I think they’re trying to brainwash me.  It feels good to lie down though and rest my weary bones.  Speaking of bones, I wonder if they have anything I can gnaw on.  My teeth are killing me.  (Sigh)  I miss my real mom and dad.  I wonder what they are doing right now, probably missing me.  Well, I guess I’ll just have to make the best of things.  Oh, did I mention that there is another person that lives here?  Her name is Lindsey and she smells good.  She’s one of those teenagers they talk about.  I’m going to try to get in good with her, so maybe she can help me escape and find my way home.  Maybe she’s been kidnapped too.  We can break out together.  Well, guess I better go.  This strange woman wants to take me out to potty again, whatever that means.