When my wife told me she was going out and sleeping over a friend’s, I said all the right things. Told her I’d miss her but she should enjoy her pajama party with Meghan or Marianne or whatever her name is, that works at the flower store. I didn’t want to belabor my response, didn’t want her to see my face when she was telling me she was deserting me of a night. Maybe there wasn’t any pajama party at the girlfriend’s. Maybe Brenda was having an affair. Worse, I didn’t care. I didn’t want Brenda to see me smiling. At the moment I wasn’t thinking about Brenda.
I was thinking about . . . her.
Three hours later, this object of distraction was curled up on the couch. The marital couch! Neither of us cared. As far as we were concerned, it was our couch. None of it mattered. Whatever Brenda was up to was fine. All of a piece in the mad swirl of things.
I put on Sinatra, lit candles. “Summer Wind” caressed us, though it was a mild November evening in Prescott.
I’m not much of a cook, but I can rattle the pots and pans over some simple, hearty fare. A man’s pedestrian culinary talent may be forgiven as long as what he makes he makes well.
Brenda and I have two grills: a wood-chip fired Traeger in the garage you can keep, and a gas grill out on the deck you can also keep. I do better on my cast iron fryer.
The kitchen soon became redolent of my labors. One might have coughed from the smoke; however, the alarm stayed quiet, what with the opening of the deck door.
I set about searing two New York strips. They say a rib-eye is juicier and for the most part they’re right, but if you know what you’re doing there’s no bad steak.
I’d rubbed one with olive oil, cracked black pepper, and Kosher salt; the other I’d left plain, as my dining companion eschewed excessive seasoning. The two steaks fit the pan together, curling around one another like a yin-yang symbol, yet with ample room so as not to smother the cook.
While eyeing her through the partition, I got to work.
I seared each steak two minutes on each side, then turned the heat down to medium for three or four minutes on each side.
The aroma overwhelmed us.
“Smells pretty good, huh?”
No reply need be made. I knew her heart . . . and her palate.
I set the steaks on a wood plank to let the juices work in before the meal.
Using a paper towel to wipe my hands of spitting grease, I gazed again through the partition. She gazed back in utter reciprocation.
I poured a soft drink and, coming out the kitchen through the big opening, went and sat next to her on the couch, pressing her hip with my own. Sipping my Coke, I caressed her taut flank.
Nothing need be said. Anticipation underscored our best times together. The relationship transcended words; my inamorata and I communed on a primal level.
“Better get back to it,” I said presently, rising off the couch.
By this time she could not help but drift into the kitchen after me, showing – just by the widening of the eyes and a strange little smile that played at the edges of her mouth – her mounting and urgent interest.
I plated my own, seasoned steak . . . and slid the cut chunks of the other onto her dish.
Ah readers, to see her hunched over that meal, snapping at the fare with no shame whatever, made me blush, indeed nearly weep with gratitude. Her paws scrabbled the tile as her ingenious snout found new angles to get at the pieces. I ate from my own plate at the dinette not twenty feet away, watching her.
And o! the three mile walk, leisurely, full of tacit and playful innuendo, that would take place in the cooling dusk after twenty minutes of a silly sitcom neither of us was paying attention to. I would feel but a distant twinge of guilt watching the muscles play across her black and tan fur as she negotiated the hills with me on the end of our favorite leash. We knew, beyond all tiresome dicta and dogma, that something that felt this right could never be wrong. And let the neighbors see!
Later, I decided to liberate her from “her area,” as Brenda and I called it, a squashed place abutting the master bedroom, laundry room, and kitchen, and let her into “gen pop,” even into the guest bedroom which for some reason I always slept in during Brenda’s absences, and where I languished tonight with my Dickens.
My whistle brought her galloping from the living room couch. My heart leaped with joy, dear readers, as she mounted the bed, walked in circles, and plopped down next to my legs, pressing them a little with her fifty-seven pounds, sighing and grunting in settled contentment. At this moment I knew beyond all doubt that God had put us on this earth to learn love through His creations. Yes, readers, we slept together!
It wasn’t until two in the morning when, sensing the presence of coyotes outside, Rosa rose out of her slumber and, standing rigid, three legs on the bed and one on my testicular sac, hackles risen as she faced the window I’d opened to admit the salutary breeze, began barking her head off — feral, snarling, guttural — and I knew our dalliance was at an end.
Alas, I must return her to her area.
Instinctively I grabbed my Android.
“When’re you getting back already? This fucking dog’s driving me crazy.”