They’ve been there the whole time.
From the moment Monica and I walked in out of the January cold lugging a big plastic car seat covered in enough blankets to cover a 747, they’ve been standing by, standing guard. We dusted the cold off our bones and laid our new daughter down on the wooden floorboards and they across the room came to sniff things out, of course.
Then, they each gave her a few whacks with their long pink tongues, dripping their dog spittle all over her face, and I remember panicking inside myself like a lot of new dads do in that first hour or two: when you walk in the house with something way different than all of the other goofy grocery bags, all the useless stuff you bought at a flea market and all the other kinds of ridiculous crap you’ve lugged in a thousand times before. This was way different now.
Hell, different ain’t even the right word, really. This was something otherworldly we were hauling in here.
Precious cargo, that’s what it was.
A baby girl. Our little girl.
And here I was watching them lick her tiny beautiful face, these Two Musketeers, the same dudes who I have personally witnessed cross a three acre concrete compound of basketball courts just so they could suck down some Human Bum Puke under a weathered bench way over by the tennis courts.
Still, looking back now, they were so perfect; more perfect than I could have ever dreamed they would be. They could tell we had brought home something wonderful, someone bigger than we had ever brought around before. They could sense that this was someone who was staying, too. They were more gentle than I had thought possible. These schmoes had thirty-thousand miles of veins raging with rivers of bumper car juice strung in and out of their airplane engine hearts; their insides were on fire, glowing with life and pizazz: like the golden Christmas lights criss-crossing the midnight streets of Little Italy.
These guys were deer chasers/ old souls with pioneer tendencies/ minor league bamboozlers with eyes that got all glittery with boundless hope whenever it was even a remote possibility that a wad of sausage was maybe gonna tumble off of your fork and land down on the floor, down where they owned whatever happened to fall from the sky above.
They were more perfect than me. Way more.
In the morning they’d glide into the living room on their silent paw pads and wander over to me or my wife, whoever was holding the kid, and they would give her a small kiss and I could tell that even though I was a jaded dude who drug semi-mild suspicion around with him like a garlic necklace, these kisses weren’t any sort of con or scheme. They were real. They were real real.
I fell in love with them then, again, I guess. I looked at them slinking around trying their best to figure out if they were allowed to love this new critter too, or if her being around was gonna affect the love that came in to their loading docks and that had been keeping them happy and slightly overweight for years now. I fell in love with her and I fell in love with them, all at the same time, while all of our worlds were just big old steamships rubbing up against each other in the dark twilight of some polar cap sea.
We’re four people now. And two dogs.
Or six people.
Or six dogs.
However you wanna look at it.
Because, by now I see it, man. And for us, there is cool clear magic in knowing that the six of us, we’re all pretty much the same.
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