Yesterday, I stayed home from work because I was sick (cough).
Some days you wake up and it is good enough just to be alive. “Oh good,” you say. “I didn’t die.” This wasn’t one of those mornings. This was one of those mornings where the sun hurts your eyes, sounds hurt your ears and your shower is just a sad place without a bed.
Brooke and Puppy had stayed at my apartment the night before and as I awoke and saw Brooke getting out of bed, I thought, “No thanks.” Then I noticed that my cell phone was right next to my bed, so I could literally call work to tell them I was not coming in without my head ever leaving my pillow. Plus, as Brooke left the bed, the dog climbed up and laid down to replace her. It was as though he was saying, using his heightened canine intuition, “You shouldn’t go to work today. You should stay here with me and play. And feed me. Feed me all day long.”
The only (small) problem is that technically Puppy isn’t allowed in my building. There’s some “stipulation” in my “lease” about it, but who knows what all that means? I’m no paralegal. The way I see it, I’m not harboring him. He’s not a fugitive. He didn’t stab another dog at the dog park and then flee to my apartment to go into hiding. Besides the fact that the little knife doesn’t stay on no matter how hard we tie it, he can’t even lean how to “shake” let alone “stab.” It’s all absurd. And as a general rule, absurd laws carry no weight.
Still, America is about keeping up appearances. So whenever Puppy comes over, he enters and leaves the building disguised as a bag. I like to think of it that way because it sound better than, “We put him in a bag.” It’s not a bag like a trash bag. It’s not like I sling him over my shoulder and should I come across anyone in the elevator I just swing the bag nonchalantly side to side, hitting it against the wall to subtly suggest, There aren’t any living things in here. It’s more like a shoulder bag, the kind girls wear when they go to the beach, or the kind people make fun of guys for wearing when they’re walking a dog. It’s more humane for him than it is for me, trust me.
Anyway, I stayed home and the dog stayed with me. We slept and did some male bonding (watched SportsCenter twice while licking ourselves). It was awesome. Until I finally ventured to the windows and opened the blinds. On the windowsill was a huge puddle of water. “This is odd,” I thought. “Water doesn’t belong here.” I looked up and saw a tiny crack in the top of the windowsill where the water was dripping from. I looked at Puppy. “This isn’t good.” Puppy looked at me.
I needed to call the super, but the dog couldn’t be there when the super arrived. I thought about hiding him in the bathroom, but then reconsidered when I thought of the possibility that Puppy could get anxious and start scratching at the door, and nothing raises suspicion like someone scratching from the inside of your bathroom door. At that point, you either have a dog in there or a very weak human. Neither comes off well.
The only thing to do was to go to Brooke’s apartment and call the super once we had left.
I rushed to shower and change as quickly as possible, barking (ha) orders at the dog like, “Get ready to go!” and “Pack a bag!” It’s sad, I know, that I would do that when it’s just me and the dog there. It’s like making jokes for my own benefit and, worse, repeating them on my blog for the benefit of others. It’s kind of sick actually. Maybe I shouldn’t include this.
As I finished putting on my shoes and grabbing for Puppy’s leash, I realized something. I didn’t have the bag. The night before, under the cover of darkness, we had simply picked the dog up and carried him like a stuffed animal. But now, during the middle of the day, there would be no way of hiding that the dog in my arm was in fact moving. I had two bags of my own to choose from: a messenger bag and a rolling suitcase. Neither were the optimal choice. I was panicked. We were taking on water. We had to leave. I picked him up, tucked him under my arm like a football and peeked my head out the door. The hallway was clear. I made my way down the hall. Just as I reached the elevator, however, the door was opening and someone was getting out. I quickly ducked into the stairwell adjacent to the elevators. In my head, it was an awesome move. In my head, it was just like in the movies where the stairwell door closes quietly behind me just as the person is walking by, none the wiser. In reality, the door probably hung open five seconds too long and as the person walked by all they saw was the guy from 7G apparently stealing a shih tzu.
We rushed down the seven flights with me still talking to the dog (“That was a close one”) and the dog still not understand a word I say.
As we approached the first floor, I peered through the small window in the door leading out into the lobby to see if the coast was clear. It wasn’t. The super was standing there with a crew of workers. Apparently they knew about the leak. He was pointing and gesturing and giving them orders, which I imagined were, “You, cover the back entrance. You, go up to the 7th floor. This guy isn’t getting out of here with that dog.” I was nervous. Puppy was not.
Finally, the group seemed to be moving towards the elevator bank and away from the front entrance. As soon as they were out of my line of vision, I made a break for the door. Carrying the dog in front of me, like a hero protecting a small child from flames or gunfire, I burst through the door. If I had a special effects budget, it would have been in slow motion with music booming in the background. And just as I was about to hit the street, fresh air, freedom . . . it all came crashing down. It was like the climactic scene of “The Professional.” Two steps from the door, another tenant comes walking in. She is carrying bags, struggling to fit through the opening. I am blocked. My super is behind me. I step to the side. The woman comments, “WHAT A CUTE DOOOG!” My spot – blown up. I wave to my super with my free hand. We walk outside into the rain, and I am sad I ever left bed in the first place.
Editorial note: I had intended to use the “(cough)” insertion to denote “I’m being surreptitious. I was faking it and staying home to enjoy a day off.” But I soon realized that when you write “sick (cough)” it actually just sounds like you are sick. Point being – I’m not sick, mom. Don’t call. I’m OK.