My daughter’s back at college, and my wife is on a trip to Tunis to see some Roman ruins. I, her American ruin, remain in Laguna, hanging out with Booker, our Welsh Springer spaniel. Just a couple of guys, staying up as late as we want.
Patti Jo and I have been apart for brief periods in the past, and the early stages aren’t so bad; there are compensations. I don’t put garlic salt on my creamed spinach when Patti Jo’s home, but I’m doing it now.
And it’s not like I’m alone. Booker listens attentively, and he recognizes any sentence involving going places, hunting lizards, chasing his squeaky ball or eating things. He can’t trade banter, but he’s a good companion.
Unfortunately, he becomes progressively dispirited in a one-person household.
Booker thinks a three-person home is ideal, so he can alternate playmates. When only one of us is home for any length of time he gets morose.
When I’m occupied as I am right now, he looks out the window for awhile, then turns with a groan and stretches out on the couch to suffer extravagantly like Garbo in “Grand Hotel.”
I once had a girlfriend who, when I ran out of conversation, would say, “Well, this isn’t very entertaining.” Booker can’t say it but he’s got the attitude down.
I tell him some owners leave their dogs home alone all day, but he doesn’t believe me.
So the challenge until Patti Jo returns is not only to keep my spirits up, but Booker’s as well. One encouraging sign: He’s accepted my singing of the breakfast song.
Patti Jo always accompanies his morning kibble with a song of her own composition called “Breakfast for Booker,” which he sings with her, howling along. He puts a lot into it; it’s his one means of artistic expression.
On past occasions when I gave him breakfast I tried the song, but he never sang with me. I figured it was because it was a him-and-Mom thing, and I accepted it. Turns out, though, it was because I’m a baritone. The other day I tried falsetto, and although I was off-key and sounded hideous, he joined right in on the high notes.
So if you’re passing our house one morning and you hear us howling away, don’t call 911. It’s just a couple of guys holding the fort while the women are gone. Although we may not be handling it well, we’re handling it a lot better than it sounds.
SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four novels, three of which were critically acclaimed. His novel, “Diminished Capacity,” is now available in bookstores, and the film version will soon be out on DVD.