September 13, 2006
Traveling back to Los Angeles, my home throughout the 90s, always proves to be a bittersweet experience. I miss the close bonds with my West Coast girlfriends and try to time my visits to coincide with a meeting of Book Group, a 15-year-old institution with almost all its founding members intact which is most famous or infamous for the nude photograph we took to confirm our husband's fantasies that this was how we conducted our monthly dinner and discussions.
I also applaud my decision to leave this city of youth and beauty before the time when that collective photo would require so much body coverage there wouldn't be a tome large enough to do the trick.
In the rental car heading north on the 405 all I can find playing is music from that decade which seems amazing given this is the cutting edge music capitol of the world. But of all the memories that start floating through my head what I gravitate to are tails. Dogs. And not those that I dated, but those who were part of my life in L.A.
When I arrive at my friend Lisa's house, whom I am visiting for her baby shower, I am thrilled to see her in all her fecund glory but also reunite with her dog Paco a sort of Akita and chow mix but with the friendliest personality on the planet. I acutely miss her other dogs Pinkie and Pork Pie. Yes, Paco, Pinkie, Pork Pie Parker and I all lived together for a while before Lisa became Mrs. Piper.
Pinkie was found in a dumpster on Venice Beach and was so forever grateful she never stopped licking. . . anyone . . . anytime. We debated putting up a circus wire and pulley harness on which to put her when it simply became too much. When Lisa found out she was pregnant, an energy healer said she saw a little black dog around her that was so needy, and now Lisa really needed to direct her attention to herself.
"She's been dead for years," Lisa informed her. Clearly that tongue was still moving from the great beyond. Pork Pie was the brave soldier, a Westie, who always needed to take charge. Perfectly cast as the wise man in Lisa's annual Christmas nativity scene he would watch over Pinkie as the baby Jesus and Paco as some sort of camel/carpet mixture. He ultimately succumbed to diabetes.
But it is pictures of my newly departed Coco and the golden retriever Bash, who was her companion when I was married and living in the Valley which fill my mind. I actually met my ex and fell for his line "You want to come meet my dog," etchings for the animal lover. Bash was most famous for his neuroses including claustrophobia on his cross-country adventures on American Airlines.
On our first flight out to New York for a summer stint in the Hamptons I was met with a page at JFK, "Will the owner of a golden retriever please report to the agent." I was escorted down to the tarmac, placed on a conveyor belt and told to shimmy myself into the cargo hold to fetch my dog who had gotten loose. My ex had the leashes with him waiting for the luggage so I took an old seat belt to lasso Bash. A true gentleman, after he had gotten out, Bash had tried to chew through the corner of Coco's cage to spring her as well. The three of us made our merry way through the bowels of JFK to greet my husband who looked at me like, "What the hell are you doing holding the dog with a seat belt?"
In the divorce he got Bash and I was left with a lingering sense of failure of being unable to save either one of them.
Hearing of Coco's demise my friends all ask if I'm going to get another dog. "No," I respond. Like childbirth, you need to be able to forget the pain of attachment, which accompanies so much love to give it all a go again. "But," I add after a pause, "Never say never."
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