Karen was wailing.
"Waaaah . . . Waaah . . . Waah!
I hadn't heard that sort of intense weeping around the house since Verrazano lost the Breeder's Cup Mile carrying a good portion of my mortgage payment in his saddlebag.
"What happened? What happened?"
"Fredo's gone," she said, dabbing a tissue to her nose.
I tried to explain to her that Fredo was the weak Corleone, and that he betrayed Michael, so it was only natural that he should go away . . . as in sleep with the fishes.
"Not that Fredo – Fredo the Labradoodle. I loved him."
Then I got it. This kind of thing has been happening in our household since we visited the Animal Rescue Fund kennel on Industrial Road in Wainscott to visit the 50 or so dogs that were up for adoption. We didn't adopt a dog, but many of them have found happy homes since thanks to the good folks at ARF.
Karen, though, visits the website every day to see the new arrivals. This is presumably where she "met" Fredo and quickly fell in love with him.
Far be it for me to tell her she can't fall in love with a picture, for I have been similarly smitten many times – I remember their names to this day: Miss June, 1967, Miss August, 1972. And who can forget the Scrumdelicious Miss February from the vintage year 1977? Ah, she was an exotic blend, though certainly no Labradoodle. (Imagine if we gave mixed breed people similar names – boy, I could really get myself in hot water here!)
Fredo is just the latest of Karen's would-be playmates. There was Sandy, and Pluto, and Benjie, and the UPS guy – oh wait, he was real. Her tears would flow each time one of them disappeared from the ARF gallery -- I felt a similar pain when Cheryl Tiegs got married.
I tried to explain that she was falling in love with pictures, that there could never be any real attraction without physical intimacy. (In other words, she could never love the ARF gallery like I loved those Playboy magazines.)
We lost our two beloved Whippets, and we are lonely – we want a dog or dogs around the house. But unlike Karen, I have not yet finished the grieving process. I believe that these things take time. I don't think we should rush into this.
In other words, I want to wait until summer so I don't have to get up in the middle of a freezing cold night and walk one of those little buggers because he figured out how to open up the Whitman's Sampler that was hidden in the closet and got the runs (hell, it's bad enough when it happens to me).
And I don't want to come home and find the kitchen garbage overturned, its contents scattered around the house, including things that are hidden so well they escape detection until the maggots give them away years later.
The bottom line is this: for all intents and purposes, Karen is pregnant. I don't mean that in the biblical sense, wherein in nine months she is going to have a baby with horns and a tail, though with me as the father that would certainly be a plausible outcome.
What it all means is Karen is going to have a baby. Her friends might as well plan the baby shower right now. It is inevitable – I no longer have a say in the matter. I can only pray, like an expectant father, that everything comes out OK.
Dear God, please don't give me an ugly baby. We've all seen this happen with humans, where you approach a friend who just had a baby and the thing looks like a gargoyle. The mother always says, 'Isn't he cute?' You stifle the correct response, which is, "Maybe if that head was on the end of a stick."
Dear God, I don't want a rodent living in my house. Karen has decided, since I've stated my opposition to getting a dog, that if she were to get a really tiny one I wouldn't mind. The other day she showed me a Chihuahua.
"Isn't he cute?" Yeah, if you think rats are attractive. And where I come from a Schnauzer is a nose.
God, please don't give me a rheumy one. You know what I'm talking about – the dogs that have that snot stuff constantly around there eyes. Typically, they are adroit at rubbing it on humans, specifically me.
Please send one with the Saliva-Back Guarantee. Some dogs combine heavy panting with an overactive saliva gland that causes liquid to flow from them much like a burbling brook (or is it a gurgling brook?).
Finally, I ask only that like Don Corleone, my next child be a "masculine one." No Fru-Fru of Wuffy. I want a manly name, like Vito or Tuffy. And he better not be named after the UPS guy.