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The approaching woman was immaculately dressed, somewhere between professional office and formal evening. A quiet dinner in a fancy restaurant? Box seats at a theater? A fundraiser at a swanky country club? No way to know at a glance, but her destination was glamorous. Her diamond ring sparkled and the silver bracelets jangled. The pearls around her neck made a quiet, sophisticated statement, much like her simple but stylish earrings. Makeup lightly and expertly applied.
Only her shoes didn’t match. Sparkling white walking shoes without a scuff or speck of mud. They would, no doubt, be replaced with polished high heels before she headed for her destination. First, though, the dog needed walking.
The canine strutted with the confidence of a luxurious life. Manicured nails. Brushed and shampooed fur under a sparkling clean sweater. A matching designer collar and leash. Head held high, legs moving quickly with purpose, the dog looked as poised as its human.
We, however, were not as collected. I wore my typical winter clothing—Carhartt jeans and a sweatshirt. That was different than my summer outfit of Carhartt shorts and a T-shirt.
I have no need for fancier clothes. I spent three decades wearing suits, the corporate uniform. My commute now is measured in steps, with a stop at the coffee maker prior to going into my office at home. No one here would be impressed with a silk tie, including me.
And my dogs, for clarity, do not wear sweaters. They are Siberian Huskies. No temperature in Asheville has ever impressed them as too cold. Mud, however, has its charms, and they had it on their paws and noses as we neared the well-dressed stroller.
I mumbled a silent prayer that my furry herd would behave. They eyed the canine cardigan with amusement, but opted to focus instead on the trees around us, no doubt in hope that some squirrel would forget the game and come too close. I plastered on my best smile and greeted the woman with a hearty, “Good afternoon.”
She smiled and nodded, though she eyed my dogs a little warily. I made a point of stepping wide on the trail, leaving her plenty of room on the pavement. We passed each other without incident and I let a sigh of relief escape. No one had done anything catastrophic.
And then Landon belched.
I don’t mean a hiccup. Or a quiet slip of air. No, my fuzzy wonder mutt burped like he had just guzzled a warm six-pack of beer on a hot summer afternoon. A rippling affair that echoed through the woods, startled birds, and dropped leaves from the nearest trees. Loud. Long. Raucous.
For a second, I was amused, but then I glanced over my shoulder to see if the woman had heard. It was obvious she had. She stared at me with disgust. To my horror, I realized she thought the gaseous explosion had come from me.
I opened my mouth to apologize, but realized the futility as I took in the scene. Landon bounced merrily along the trail, oblivious to the effect he had had on the humans. For all he cared, he felt better. Nothing else mattered.
Without him looking guilty, the woman had no reason to suspect he—or any of the dogs—had caused the cosmic eruption. Her glare expressed her shock that I would show such a lack of manners.
I pointed at Landon as I stuttered and stammered, but realized how weak that appeared. I had just committed one of the oldest dodges in the world. That smell? Blame the dog. That noise? The dog did it.
Sure he did. I almost didn’t believe me.
I accepted my fate with a shrug. She harrumphed and continued on her way, shaking her head with each step in her expensive sneakers. Later, she would entertain her dinner guests with the story uttered in hushed tones, embarrassed to even mention such a thing.
Hopefully, at least, she thinks the dogs are well-behaved. Me, on the other hand, will forever be in the dog house.
Interesting Link – Indie Bookstores
Do you want to support your local indie bookstore but want the convenience of ordering books from home? I have three links for you to consider.
Indiebound – This website allows you to find the books you want and then connect to your local store. Even if the store doesn’t have it in stock, you can order it, have it delivered direct to your house, and still support your local store.
Bookshop – Works in a different way, but still supports indie stores. Your orders are handled by the Bookshop team, but they allocate a portion of their profits to indie stores.
Malaprops – If you live in or are planning to visit Asheville, Malaprops is our largest indie bookstore. Even cooler, they told me Friday they have ordered and will be stocking my books on their shelves. More on that later when they arrive.
P.S. – I know, I know, all of those links lead to my books. In case you are looking for Christmas presents. Just trying to be helpful.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
Sure, he looks all innocent with those blue eyes and that pickle nose, but the boy can burp. Holy cow, can he burp. And at the worst times possible.
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