Saturday, September 29, 2007

Classic Time

Here's a story from my book, Mama Pajama Tells a Story. It is a favorite. I am too full of smoke and barbecue and fried pies (well, I had to try one, now didn't I?) to write anything other than... duhhhhhh.

The Wild Dinner Party

It was a lovely autumn morning in Western Kentucky. We were having a lazy day. Well, most of us were. Sam I Am, by then a seven-month-old puppy woke up just full of himself. Maybe it was something he ate the day before. Having already worn out his usual play buddy, Luciano, Sam was out in the little yard tearing around with his Hurl-A-Squirrel all by himself. I watched him, and I was transported to an earlier time in my life; images of thoroughbred yearlings dancing in their paddocks, instead of one silly Whippet puppy in a small city yard. The shrieks of the senior Whippets at an upstairs window brought me back to Whippetdom, as they screamed profanities at a squirrel sitting on the branch right outside the TV room window.

I had been debating whether to take the dogs out to the Kennel Club property to let them chase the lure on that lazy Sunday. I was thinking not. We had a dinner party the nigh beforet. It had been a late night, after a long day of cooking and cleaning, and I was thinking of a day watching football, catching up on correspondence, maybe reading Southern Living for some holiday decorating ideas. But when almost ten-year-old Caruso, and just turned eleven-year-old Gracious are bouncing up and down, tails up and wagging, ears at full point, voices at full cry over a squirrel on a telephone pole just outside the upstairs bedroom window, it’s time to load everyone up for a trip to the country for a little run.

Though infinitely better since Bill’s arrival, things just kept on being different in our new home. My dogs have always been so well behaved, a great source of personal pride and delight. Since I was a ten-year-old child, with my very first dog, a wonderful pound rescue named Rex, folks have always remarked at how well trained my dogs are. “Your dogs are so quiet, so calm,” people said about the whippets. “Your eight dogs are better behaved than our one!” they’d exclaim. I would humbly say, “Oh, they’re just good dogs,” while inside I would beam. What a great dog trainer I was. But that night, as the guests were politely seated at our dining room table, new people that didn’t really know us yet, city people that have a pug and a Lhassa Apso, as we made quaint small talk about the recent elections, the political eccentricities of this old Southern city, my guests were looking anxiously over my shoulder into the kitchen.

Mid-sentence, I casually turned my head in the direction of their concerned glances. “I don’t understand how we’ve let Bush and Cheney off Scott free with their involvement, no entrenchment, in ...” Enron, I was about to say. I was going to be really impressive, quoting a recent interview I heard on NPR about Bush being Governor of Texas while Enron was doing all its dirty dealings, and the personal meeting Kenny-boy had with Cheney after he became the Veep, but instead, I turned my head to see Fat Charlie standing up on the counter just snacking merrily away on the apple enchiladas that were going to be dessert.

Now, a more composed hostess might have handled this situation by continuing on with her thought, casually getting up from the table, correcting the situation, and deciding to serve just the ice cream for dessert. But, alas, composure has never been my strong suit. "CHARLIEEEEEEEEE, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I leapt up from my chair, knocking into the table with such force that I spilled five of the six glasses of wine in the process. Into the guests’ laps. My glass of course is the only one to remain upright. The wine is a nice, crisp Merlot. The guests’ laps were sodden. Deep ruby.

Fat Charlie gulped faster, with gusto, wagging his tail guiltily, not even budging from his counter perch. And since I was franticly grabbing towels, napkins, anything to get the wine off the formally dressed laps, Fat Charlie was not only free to finish the home baked treats, but he was joined on the counter by his nephew Sam I Am.

In my haste, I grabbed the dog towel that I had earlier used to clean the excrement off of Giacomino’s neck. I don’t know from which animal it had been eliminated. Raccoon maybe, or skunk. Some omnivore. It was way too stinky to have been a squirrel or even a cat. Giacomino had rolled and rolled until his entire body was thick with the stuff. Never had I smelled such a eye watering, gut gagging horror. And it had been so thick that I had wiped off as much as I could with a towel before throwing the dog in the tub. And, sadly, this was the very towel with which I found myself wiping the lap of my proper city guest.

Yup, things were different for me there in the city. And, come to think of it, I bet our new friends had never been to a dinner party like that before the Whippets and I moved south, either!

I decided to load up the dogs after all, and headed out to the Kennel Club property for a little run. I figured I could catch up on my correspondence on a rainy day.

copyright Patience C. Renzulli

And here are some more photos from Barbecue On the River from last night:

here are three of the big cookers:

Here's the little trailer where I worked, right below the stop sign:

Yes, fried dill pickles... yumm?

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