I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues before school about his plans for the summer. He and his wife were looking forward to a three week getaway to Europe. And suddenly I was back at the mall. With my wife. We went to the mall last Saturday night. We ate at the food court. We had Mongolian Barbecue. It was exotic, for us.
While we ate our noodles and savored the high impact plastic interior of the decor, I told her that I had this inkling about just driving up the highway and getting a hotel room. This was my devil-may-care notion that was probably fueled by the large Coke, but it came from a place that was rooted in the words that started our relationship, way back when: "Why not?" That attitude had taken me a long way. Over the years, however, the weight of adulthood with all its attendant trappings had given me all the reasons I needed to answer what was, at one time, a rhetorical question. On this particular evening, the answer was "the dog." We had wandered away from our home base without first securing care for our collective best friend. She would have been very unhappy with us had we decided to stay away. We would have earned any and all of the consequences from stranding our sixteen year old dog indoors overnight. My wife and I finished up our Mongolian Barbecue and headed back to feed the dog.
Meanwhile, my colleague was feeling stuck with his own burden. His pet bunny needed to be cared for while they were away for most of a month. "I guess it's a little like getting ready for parenthood," he imagined, "but not really." I told him he was in the right arena, just a few sections away still. Having anyone or anything dependent on you for food and bathroom breaks takes a lot of special training and commitment. We have been fortunate over the years to have had a number of good friends who have bonded with our dog and made it possible for us to carry on as if we were carefree. As for the kid, we haven't had many trips away from the homestead that didn't include him, so there's really no test for that.
But it's coming. In the past year or so, he has started to insist that my wife and I leave him and "go out on a date." Our initial responses have been mildly skeptical. Why does he want us out of the house? We've seen "Risky Business." We don't want to come home to a cracked Faberge egg and a brothel being run out of the basement. In that case, I'm pretty sure the dog would tattle on him.