Heat

I woke up at 2. I decided the first step was to sleep in as late as I felt like doing. When I woke, I was covered in a sheen of sweat, and the blanket was tangled and clinging to my legs. I look down, and the dog is laying somewhere around my knee, sprawled out and miserable. I sigh, and he sighs, which makes me laugh. My boyfriend is downstairs, half naked and playing video games. I try to decide if it’s worth getting up, but hell, we had an agreement, so I stumble down the staircase and mutter about how we’re going out in a few hours and there’s no choices involved. 

After checking the pantry, I decide that the state of things fucking sucks, so I get in the car and go to the market. If this day’s going to be good, I’m going to have a good damn breakfast/lunch/whatever it is called this time of day. There’s traffic everywhere because of the holiday tomorrow, so even getting around in my lifeless little town is hectic. 

I’m in the market for almost thirty minutes. It’s more convenience store that grocer, but they do have a small section in a back room with everything you can possibly imagine, expired. I end up with three boxes of granola bars after slowly winding my way through the aisles, avoiding a man who appears to be following me. I suppose he was more boy than man, and once I lose him in one of the other lesser-traveled back rooms, I lean into one of the shelves, watching with a malicious gaze. I watch him pick out his things, and smirk as he looks over his shoulder guiltily. I think about doing something, but I get sidetracked by the thought of marshmallows, and by the time I am paying attention again, he’s disappeared. 

I get back to the car, and drive home. My chocolate granola bars have melted within the five minutes it took, and I shove one in my mouth while trying to send a text. Slathered in sunscreen and wearing shorts, I’m trying to decide if this is legitimately a ‘different’ sort of day. It’s hard to tell. I have nothing to do but to go with it. 

Somehow, with an extra person and an extra dog, we manage to all cram ourselves into the car. We’ve got four people and three dogs, and not a whole lot of leg room. It’s 40 minutes to the lake, and with some barking and a shitty gravel road, we get there. I immediately decide I’m going to swim—to hell with everyone else. So while they’re still milling around at the car, I’m with the dog already getting into the water. It’s dirty and warm, but I don’t care, because I’m outside and it’s better than anything I can remember lately. Eventually my boyfriend and friend’s son are with me, and we walk until we have to swim (which is surprisingly quite a ways). I have to keep kicking at the seaweed, which tangles around my legs and arms each time I try to move. There are catfish holes everywhere, so when I can stand, sometimes I almost sink underwater as my foot catches one and the ground disappears beneath me.

The dog doesn’t swim well, so I have to hold him most of the time to keep him afloat. But I like the water, and I love to swim, so I enjoy most of it. When we get back to shore, that’s when things change. My friend (who won’t go in the water) has been playing with her two dogs on the beach. Since my dog doesn’t get along with her puppy, I generally keep him away from her. Well, I start walking down the beach with my dog on my heels, and the puppy decides she wants to follow. It’s okay, at first. Then of course my dog bowls her over, so I separate them. But of course that hardly solves things, since each time I call my dog away, she follows and nips at him, starting the process all over again. My friend, who has been ignoring most of what’s going on, calls her puppy over. More fighting ensues between the dogs, and I find myself growing irritated. Lately my friend has been making comments about my dog and about how I’m not taking charge of him (despite the fact that I spend 24 hours a day with him, quite literally, and have put him through training classes; no, I don’t take charge of my dog at all!). She says it in such underhanded ways that it doesn’t leave much room for comment, and I have to remind her that he’s a 7 month old puppy with a high prey drive and who is just coming into his hormones. He listens, surprisingly, but each time I call him back the puppy pursues him. I’m more or less done dealing with it, so I head out to the water. If she thinks she is so superior at handling it, let her, I decide. It’s supposed to be a different day, after all. My dog is still on the shore, playing with the larger dog, so I leave him to it.

I’m a good distance from the shore when I see her throw her tantrum. I almost laugh, but I refrain, somehow. She starts screaming at my dog, stomping her foot, and more or less throwing a fit. He looks at her like she’s lost it (I’m tempted to tell him she has), then proceeds to turn around and go for the puppy again. I make a halfhearted call to him, but I’m too entertained to give much of a shit. I send my boyfriend to go get him.

She has her pout over at the car where she takes both of her dogs, and I leave my dog to run around, not surprised that he’s obedient now that they’ve left. I enjoy the beach a bit more, but I’m annoyed with the turn of events. I start walking up the beach to the car to go speak to her, but halfway there I realize she’d just be getting her way. I laugh at myself and turn around. Let her sulk.

Later she realizes she’s been a bitch and starts claiming that it’s her dog and she’s going to fix it and so on. All this after saying her dog ‘never acts like that’ unless of course my dog is around. So all in all it’s some sort of bullshit blame shifting, where she’s telling me it’s her dog to my face then subtlety claiming it’s all my fault at the same time. I shrug it off and decide I don’t care, but I have to stifle a snort when she makes a comment about how my dog listens when she screams like a lunatic. She makes it sound as though he never listens to me, when the truth is, I am the only person he will listen to. Ever. Even the dog trainer couldn’t get him to come, but the minute I call him, he’s at my feet. 

Just for clarification, when an intelligent dog turns its head at you and stares, it’s more or less the dog version of saying ‘What the fuck?’. She seems to think that manhandling my dog is somehow going to change things, when she doesn’t seem to get that he’s too smart and too fast for such a blunt tactic. He doesn’t care if you scream or stomp your foot—he’s only going to listen if he respects you (and if there isn’t a small furry creature nearby). He’s still a stubborn, independent asshole a lot of the time, but when I tell him to sit or stay, he does it, and considering his breed and the fact that he’s barely 7 months old, I’ve decided I’m not going to listen to anyone’s bullshit about it anymore. I’m so tired of it, I’m considering not really seeing her much anymore, because quite frankly, as much as I loathe dogs, I’d much rather sit around with my whippet all day, then listen to another fucking human being prattle on about things they don’t understand. At least the dog doesn’t speak. He doesn’t bark, and as long as I get him outdoors an hour a day, he sleeps the rest of the time.

It’s a rather pathetic realization that I’ve discovered I like dogs, fucking servile, irritating, drooling dogs, better than one of the few people I usually don’t mind spending time with. I hate everyone and everything, and I was so struck by that today, that it almost took my breath away. 

What am I doing here? I asked myself as we drove home. Why am I bothering?    

It’s such a waste of fucking time. Especially when I can just go alone. I don’t want them or need them, and today was yet another reminder at what a fucking inconvenience people are. 

So I’ve decided that I’m just going to spend more time with my dog.

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