Friday, May 01, 2009

Disclaimer: Because some of the people who frequently appear in this blog* feel that they are over-represented here, or portrayed in a particularly harsh or whiny light, and have expressed interest in being absent from any future blog posts, the following is to be considered a work of pure fiction.** Any resemblance or similarities to real-life persons is strictly a huge coincidence.

Some people move away from home to a big city on the coast of somewhere, to a place where people actually outnumber cows, and discover that they've transitioned to their better, flashier lives and left the past behind them. And some people keep coming back because they always feel like they've left something, somewhere, and figure it must be around here somewhere and if it's not under the bed then it must be in the back of the closet ...

I like to go back to the Midwest occasionally to stay with my parents in the suburbs and leave dishes all over the house and lights on in every room and basically just to periodically anger them. I find it comforting to know that I can make the people that love me very very angry with me by doing very little. While I may have lived in three different apartments in the past year, with six different roommates, I come back home and everything is exactly as it was, precisely where I left it. No one has so much as borrowed a book or bothered to fix a slightly off-center painting on my bedroom wall.

I am determined to make this visit home as exciting as (but no more than) a typical week during my high school education. Which permits the following activities: an overabundance of television (preferably "marathons"), a trip to the mall for sneakers, several lunches at strip malls (is there any other place in the world with more strip malls?), and at least one night out, the details of which I won't make privy to my parents and will return the next day looking pale and complaining of sleep deprivation.

I arrived at home in the family minivan this afternoon. After a couple of heated political arguments with my parents, which I ended by flinging a magazine at my father (both times), I voluntarily agreed to accompany my mom to the graduation from obedience class that their award-winning dog was enrolled in. I went because, well, mainly because the very thought generated an intense desire to see just how far I could roll my eyes into my head. I figured if nothing else it would provide some good writing material. When I mentioned this to my mom, she immediately retracted the invitation. Luckily, I was able to score an extra ticket from a scalper outside the veterinarian's office.

I have to preface this by saying that the class wasn't nearly as crazy as I had expected, nay had hoped, perhaps due to the fact that the teacher actually seemed to know quite a lot and the whole experience was so just disturbingly heart-warming. For the entire bit I sat idly by in a metal folding chair with arms crossed, listening intently and trying to get over my rational fear of the German Shepherd three seats over from me.

Class turned out to be held inside some kind of barn/gymnasium. The surprisingly engaging teacher*** who I think held a lot of credentials in some things, began the session by responding to important questions (from humans) like what dogs should and should not eat and the proper way to confront a pet experiencing separation anxiety. (Apparently the answer is sometimes with anti-anxiety medications prescribed to humans. This fact alone merits its own post.) I discovered that one very crucial element to being a successful dog-obedience-class-teacher is the ability to personify an animal. In order to present a given scenario to human dog owners, one has be able to speak for the animal -- to know what it's thinking at all times and exactly how it would be thought out loud in English, and at what pitch and timbre. (Evidently most dogs have a tendency to say "No sir!" after most phrases.)

Of course this only wraps up Day 1 of my stay, and I already feel like I've been here about ninety hours. As I always do, I'll soon tire of the strip malls and the traffic, and I'll want to go sit in traffic in another part of the country for a while -- and I will return to Boston. I will leave behind the awkward honking of Canadian geese and FoxNews consistently blaring in the background. And I guess I will leave because my life is mainly somewhere else now, inside new drawers and closets and presumably lost underneath the bed. But mostly I will leave because my return ticket says so.

*Person. Honestly, most people realize I don't have any power to defame someone's character.
**The truth is that it can't be fiction, because I'm simply not even that good. But it's common knowledge that adults over 60 can't read print this small, and so this is a secret fact shared between you and me, dear reader. While we're on such a personal level here, sharing secrets and all, I think you are looking very nice this evening, and I probably wouldn't object to you buying me dinner.
***Instructor? Trainer? Coach? It's unclear to me what the exact title would be in this case.

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