Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Mysterious Pup Of The Greatland Parking Lot

I like to lie on the floor. I do.

Much to the consternation of the wife, I often enjoy stretching out on the floor and relaxing. Is it the flat surface? Feeling close to the earth? I couldn't say. I can tell you that it puzzles her to no end, though. All these years of slowly working our way out of the protoplasm, learning to walk upright on two legs, going to job interviews, and the best I can do is lie on the floor.

I do understand dogs better now, though. I remember how annoying it would feel when the family dog would follow me around from room to room when I just wanted some privacy. Wherever I settled, the dog would inevitably follow and then lie down somewhere nearby where it could keep an eye on me. If I left, the dog would get up and follow.What I didn't understand was that the dog merely wanted the company. This finally sunk in when I found myself following the wife into the computer room, much to her annoyance, after which I'd stake out a piece of floor and then curl up on a chosen patch. "What are you doing on the floor?" she'd ask. I had no explanation. I just went where the humans went.

Anyway, about a week or so back I'm doing my floor thing in the computer room. Now at the moment the wife is going through a very heavy Shane MacGowan phase. You know, the Pogues guy. And this has manifested itself in many forms, the least of which consists of collecting the original recordings. In fact, a friend of hers who did her share of rock photography back in the day gifted her with this lovely 8 X 10 print of him which she promptly framed.

But did not hang.

Thought there were moments, usually after the 117th playing of Sally Maclennane, when I wanted to hang him.

So it has sat awaiting its assigned place for some time now, leaning against the door of the computer room.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Well, I'm changing position on the floor when, like some vengeful celtic god, the framed portrait falls glass side down on my head.So it's like that is it, MacGowan, I thought to myself. You're obviously as fond of me as I am of you. Enjoy this while you can.

My forehead took the brunt of it and I was merely scratched up a bit, with only one bandage pressed into service for the minimal bleeding. What this meant, though, was that we had to hunt down a similar frame. Which you'd think would be simple.

But, no.

Each of the Target stores we visited (because that was where the original had been purchased) had frames that were close, but always just a little off: an inch here, an inch there, dinged, broken, scratched, etc. I could tell MacGowan was enjoying my frustration. All those songs about whiskey and beer I'd had to endure for the last six months were starting to play in a loop in my head, over which floated this sinister toothless Irish cackle. Ah, keep it up, boyo, keep it up, I told him. Your day is coming.

Finally, the last Target we visited was a "Greatland" store. It shone out like a beacon. If the frame could not be found at Target's last, best hope for humanity, then it was all over. Now just what the difference between a regular Target and a "Greatland" Target is, I'm not exactly sure. It implies a microcosmic America just beyond the doors, with shoppers of all races and creeds spending their money in one great, collective express lane of 12 items or less. Give us your frameless, your cheap, it seemed to promise, your huddled masses lying on the floor.

And, indeed, the Great Land did not disappoint. There, amongst its bountiful harvest of baby tees and electronics, was our frame. Not perfect, but close enough to get MacGowan off my back and on the wall, where he belonged. Not laughing so hard now, are you, Mr. Pair Of Brown Eyes ?

And that would have been an end to it, except for one final thing.

As if to remind me how all this had gotten started, just before we were about to get back in the car, I noticed a small red stuffed dog that fit into the palm of your hand lying on the ground.You don't want to go lying on the ground, I told him, picking him up. Take it from me.

From his position, I could tell that he'd fallen out of the SUV next to us, likely from where the child's seat was.I tucked him neatly into the driver's side door handle, leaving the owners of the vehicle to wonder how he'd managed to migrate from the backseat to the outside of the front door. Life had thrown a mystery into their laps that they would long ponder and, whenever they would begin to doubt the existence of miracles or when their hearts would grow cold with the winter's chill of their own mortality, they would remember the mysterious pup of the Greatland parking lot and nod their heads, ruminatively.

The child, on the other hand, would understand instinctively what had happened.

The pup was lonely and wanted the company.


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