Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rex Quits Dogging It

(This is Part Two of "Rex Backs Off" immediately below.)

The bar was still in low gear.  He had sent Rex back into his dog house and gestured  to Winston, asking him to bring her a beer.  He chatted with the Golden Retriever about how she came to choose his town for her exchange program, how long she'd be studying here, how much she liked sailing, what her favourite colour was, if she got stranded on a desert island what book she'd want with her, did she really want to spend her spare time working in a bar like this one...

She wasn't your average female canis familiaris, this one already knew she had the job.  He thought he was being engaging; she was just killing time, waiting.

She wasn't egotistical, far from it, it was just that she could figure things out fast and her brain had processed the incoming information: free beers, intense eye contact, earnest engagement, his role in the business and the way he kept touching her upper arm and 2 + 2 had added up to 4.6.  With the part-time job secured, her brain moved on to more interesting things.

"So what's your pay amount and the number of hours I must work?" she asked in her 'English-as-a-second-language'.  He stopped, his mouth closing and his head pulling back.  "I, ah, well, IF you got the job..." he said and rattled off the basics, sweetening the deal by offering what he was paying his longest-serving employees.  She nodded, a demure look on her face as she looked around at the gradually growing crowd.  She met his eye.  "I like it here, I will take your job.  Should I start now?"

Rattled was the only word that came to mind.

He cocked his head and looked behind the bar to where Winston was now frantically trying to manipulate a martini shaker while a glass overflowed under an open draught tap.  A crowd two people deep thronged the bar trying to get Winston's attention, his white apron was already looking like Joseph's technicolour dream coat.  He looked back at her.  She smiled.  He smiled too, wryly.  He took her hand and helped her off the bar stool.  She looked quizzical.  "Come with me and I'll show you around."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rex Backs Off

It was a Tuesday and things were quiet, inauspicious.  The bar was empty save himself.  Jazz music played softly, the water fountain trickled, glasses clinked inside the dishwasher amid the whoosh of the jets.  A low hum came from the refrigerators.

He was cutting limes, having filled the trays with cherries, olives and pickled onions.  The small tables had been lined up just so, candles lit, the floors mopped, the toilets checked for supplies.  Laughter drifted up the staircase from some of the early diners in the restaurant downstairs.  He could just make out the sounds of some traffic on the street out front.

He'd done many things, and would go on to do many more, but his skill set was particularly well-suited to running this "quiet little jazz-age cocktail salon".  His intense attention to detail served well in dressing the place nightly, in ensuring supplies were backed up, the decor constantly refreshed and the surfaces spotless.  His photographic memory worked well in remembering who ordered what no matter where their incessant mingling took them (and in collecting from them if they headed for the door).  His deep-rooted empathy meant the tellers of tales of heartbreak left knowing he'd remember their plight and would be looking out for their interests upon their next visit.  His gift of the gab kept the girls entertained and hopeful, the lads knowing they had a place to 'shoot the shit'.

His partners were better at leading the parade, at being the ringmasters, wearing the lampshades and joining the teeming throngs of 20-something lasses gyrating atop the pool table and bar-top late at night.  He was good at staying in constant contact with Adamo at the front door, minding the backed-up toilets, keeping an eye on the back door traffic and ensuring that no one did themselves grievous injury.

Truth be told, this was the most satisfying job he'd ever had.  The years working his way up as a corporate exec, the media business he continued to run, haltingly, with another partner during the daytime, the low-pressure unionized grocery clerk work that had put him through university, a myriad of jobs on the global road plus many summer jobs, none compared to making people happy, helping them both let loose and connect snugly -- facilitated by the various ways and means he and his bar partners had devised to ensure mayhem ensued, their special concoctions lubricating the slide to frivolity.  They were broke, but they certainly were having a good time! 

Still, there was something profound missing.  A platform, a base.  Roots beneath this tree of current complacent contentment.  Not money (though that would have helped), but a feeling of being needed, of 'mattering' outside of being a key-master in their little world of drunken bliss.  He discounted it when asked, waxing philosophical about being the lone wolf destined to roam alone (the black hole left by "The One's" check-out still sapping him, though Maltese-snippets plagued his waking thoughts less and less), but Rex had tired of the years of innumerable conquests and longed for a mate, a puppy-producer, a companion to share the long winter nights with, holed up in his cozy den.

Winston, one of their regulars, popped in for a quick martini classic with a twist on his way out of the office, still in uniform: a slick suit and patent leather shoes.  As usual, Winston wanted a sober recounting of hi-jink highlights from the weekend prior (the most unlikely couplings and most ribald mash-ups) and a prediction of what his fate may hold in the evenings ahead.  As always -- though Winston never tired of hearing it repeated -- he told him with sincerity and conviction that THIS would be the week it would happen for Winston.  Love was coming down the pipeline and Winston would assuredly be at the gushing end of that tube, finding himself awash in a potent shower of unrestrained feminine lust and deep emotional neediness.

Winston patted his moist brow with with a bar napkin (thoughts of women made him sweat), set his jaw and nodded earnestly, as he always did.  "OK, I think you're right!  I'm going to approach things with a positive attitude this week," he announced with obvious determination.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Life's a Rex! (NOT...)

She turned and ran away from him, gradually picking up speed in her graceful, easy lope, her pony-tail bobbing, her mind already on what she'd be doing next, the taste of good coffee and bitter regret lingering in his mouth.

He watched her familiar shape getting smaller as she put more distance between them, literally and figuratively, her body as untouched by childbearing or age as he'd always known it would be.  She was a lean, lanky Golden Retriever built for distance, not sprints; for action, not sedentary introspection.

Rex let out a mournful howl that echoed painfully inside his human's head.  A short, vigorous shake couldn't cut off the internal dissonance.  "Let it go, Rex!" blurted his human, "We're all better off this way."

Rex called bullshit, but there was nothing he could do about the situation.  He knew (as his human didn't want to acknowledge), that she wasn't running away, she was running back.  Back to the litter of pups that were supposed to have been sired and nurtured by Rex et al, back to a life that was meant to have been theirs (with a wistful nod to Mr. Keith...).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rex in Reserve

Rex's human was giving him the talking to.  Rex's ears were perked up and his head was cocked to one side because he knew that this guy sometimes brought him treats, but it was unclear who was really in charge between the two of them.   Rex's alpha dog personality made it hard for him to really take his human side too seriously -- when he sniffed an opportunity, he generally just took over.  THIS time, however, the guy seemed so earnest that Rex was struggling to understand just what was being asked of him.
"Rex, stay!  Lie down there and stay!  You can't come out of your dog house unless I call you, OK, Rex?"
Rex couldn't read Gary Larson cartoons, but all he heard was:
"Rex, stay!  Lie down blah blah stay!   Blah blah come blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah, Rex?"
Net-net, he was unclear on whether he was meant to come or stay, but the human's tone made him decide to retreat into his dog house for a lie-down of an unspecified duration.  (Dogs aren't good with the concept of time.)

Rex's alter-ego had a date, and the one thing he's learned about online dating dates was "low expectations", as in: imagine you are going to meet the older, heavier-set sister of the object of your desire (as defined by the photos on her dating profile), then imagine that the sister had just had electric shock therapy and couldn't understand your dry wit and conceptual nuances (despite the fact that the profile had made her sound kind of clever).

He was walking along the sidewalk in front of the bar, past the plate glass windows with the throng of people writhing on the other side, wondering just how bad this one would turn out to be.  In his past nine dates, not one woman had looked even close to her profile shots.  Lots of significantly more mature, plumper, not-so-engaging siblings, with rather off-putting senses of style, standing in. 

Pushing through the chattering masses along the outer edge of the bar he spotted two likely candidates sitting side-by-side up ahead on the right, each with an empty stool next to them, their faces blocked from his view by the people around them.  With "excuse me's" and gentle but firm palm pressure applied to the barrier of backs between him and his destination, he pressed forward, getting to about two arm's lengths away before discounting the first woman.

She looked younger than her stated age, was quite adorable and had just the kind of compact, slim-in-all-the-right-places figure that drove Rex to distraction -- like THAT was going to happen!  Ha...  With renewed 'low expectations' he brushed past the back of her chair and, still partially restrained by the crowd around him, reached out with his right hand and rested it gently on the back of the second of the two women to get her attention.  He had to press a bit further along to get past the back of her seat and introduce himself, but as he did so his gaze fell on the space between the two women and onto the cellphone of the first.  She was reading his last text to her, warning her he'd be a couple of minutes late.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rex's "Human Rights"

Rex's human writes a love letter to the wife he has yet to meet:

Being canine, Rex isn't particularly good with words.  He gets his message across in other ways.  He does, however, pine for a pack, a companion, a 'litter' one day.  Rex rolls over in his doggy bed most mornings and thrust out a paw, still in slumber, and expects to find his mate there beside him.  She isn't, of course, she only exists in his dreams at the moment as he awaits her to brave it out through more than a couple of dates...

Most often Rex is gone by the time his human wakes up, but sometimes he lingers long enough to cause his human side to dream with his eyes wide open, and sometimes even with his fingers hovering over a keyboard...
Looking Forward, Love of My Life:  You Make Me a Better Me
I want to tell you something I didn't the other day, Love.  We were in the car, you turned your head and did that thing you do with the set of your jaw when you're thinking about something and I fell in love with you again.  I wanted to tell you, but I didn't want to interrupt your train of thought and I was feeling so off-balance in that moment, I wasn't sure I'd get it right.  I guess getting it right wouldn't have been much of an issue, now that I think about it.
While I'm catching up on telling you some things, I want to thank you.  Thank you for being you.  We're all guilty of projecting, seeing our partner through our vision of the way we want them to be, not the way they are, but you have that gentle, insistent way of deflecting my attempts to do so.  I love you for that, Sweetheart.  Don't change, and don't change the way you stop me from trying to change you.  None of us are perfect, Love, but you're perfect just the way you are, imperfectly perfect.
You looked so worried the other night when we were getting ready to go out and you changed skirts three times (or was it six?) and I wanted to find a way to tell you what I see: that you walking around in nothing but heels and a pullover was causing me no end of trouble keeping myself contained; that you don't understand that you make men's knees quake and women inexplicably see red even if you're just wearing a lab coat...  But I wasn't sure you were in the mood to hear any of that.  You should know, though, that while neither of us are 10's, when I catch sight of our reflection walking towards ourselves in a storefront window I find myself wondering who that babe is beside me!  It makes me think "Sometimes we look good, but sometimes we look freaking GREAT" and it's you that makes that true, my Perfect Package.  I adore you.

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