by L.L. Zern
When the kids leave but the dogs don't.
| My husband and I got rid of our kids the old fashioned way. We swaddled them, wiped them, smothered them, adored them, bossed them, and then firmly and finally kicked them out. They went. It was too late. We were addicted to the swaddling, wiping, smothering, adoring, and bossing. We were addicted to the caring.
The dog arrived just as the kids escaped. That dog, and the fur coat she came wrapped in, is proof positive that my husband and I have lost what little equilibrium we had left. Just as our home became clean, comfortable, and hypoallergenic, we filled it with a mammal that sheds the equivalent of six angora sweaters per lunar cycle. She’s hairy. We have adapted.
We buy lint rollers in case lots from a start-up company in Indonesia. We qualify for the large quantity discount and the company Christmas card. Our account rep’s name is Omja; it means born of cosmic unity.
Last night, as my husband pointed out that we were closing in on our thirtieth wedding anniversary, I was distracted by a tumbleweed of dog hair drifting languidly through the air. Waving a lint roller like a road flare, I expertly whipped it from the air.
“Hold still,” he said, and with a flick of a wrist, he ran a lint roller over the back of my Winnie the Pooh pajamas. I flinched.
He said, “Sorry, I thought—you know—dog hair.”
Climbing into bed, my husband lint-rolled his pillow and then mine, while I ran a lint roller across the part of the bedspread that catches our chin drool. In tandem, we ripped our furry sticky strips free from our matching lint rollers.
I said, “Honey, have I told you that the last thirty years have been,” I paused, as an errant dog hair floated by, “a thousand kinds of fun.”
He smiled his special smile, and ran a lint roller down the front of my Winnie the Pooh pajamas. I giggled. A dog hair—stuck in my lip balm—made my lip itch. I smiled my special smile.
Just as he leaned in to kiss me goodnight, our sixty-pound hair factory vaulted onto the bed and shook. Dog hair showered down like dandelion seeds in May. We lint rolled our own faces. Pushing in between us our dog flipped onto her back, burped plastic, shoved her four hairy legs skyward, and fell asleep in a puddle of her own fur.
“A thousand kinds of fun,” I repeated, quietly.
We tapped our lint rollers together. They stuck. We left them that way all night. Now that’s love born of cosmic unity.