Monday, May 10, 2010

My Greeting Committee

Quint with Black Cat Bokeh

I'm working swing shift right now which means I get home, usually, between midnight and 1:00 p.m. I try to be as quiet as I can when I pull the car into the driveway, but the devices attached to the ends of the exhaust pipes on my dune buggy, though they look like mufflers, don't really quiet the exhaust sound so much as deepen and mellow it. The noise only bothers one of my neighbors, but then all noise bothers him. I discovered some time ago that, for some reason, my very existence bothers him. Since nothing I do will make him happy, I've stopped trying.

After I get the car parked, I grab all of the stuff - books, drawing pads, lunch box, pencils - that I take to work to keep me from succumbing to terminal boredom, and I trudge up the driveway to the front door. As I unlock to door and push it open, I'm nearly always greeted by a "thump" from somewhere in the house and then the "jingle" of the bell on Quint's collar as he trots through the house to find me.

"Hello, Big Guy," I say as I put my bags and boxes down and hang up my coat. I pick up the book bag and take it into my office. Then I drop my lunch box off on the kitchen counter. Finally, with both hands free, I can reach down and scritch Quint behind the ears as he rolls around on the kitchen rug.

He's not just there to say hello, though. He's on a mission, because when I get home after work it's Tooth Brushing Time. I pick him up and cradle him along my left arm as I walk over to the dining room table. (Geez, the house sounds huge when I tell the story, but all these places are just a few steps apart.) I sit down in my chair at the table where I keep the little tray that holds Quint's tooth brush, poultry-flavored toothpaste and antibiotic ointment (for his gums). As I brush his teeth, Hedge usually shows up and begins purring and rubbing against by legs. There's no "thump" when Hedge jumps down from wherever he might have been sleeping. He's very light on his feet, but he has a bell on his collar, too, so I can hear him coming. Once I've finished with Quint's teeth, I brush his head for awhile. He likes that. Hedge will let me brush him a bit as he walks around and around by legs, but as soon as Quint jumps down, Hedge follows him to wherever he might be going.

That's my nightly ritual and I do look forward to it. It always makes me smile and I can't think of a better way to end my day.

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