And so my middle aged dating began….From a Western party in the Southern Suburbs, we progressed to a few pre-accepted lunches with my friends, to dinner dates, to eventually the inevitable sleep over. This is a strange place to be when you’ve been married to the same person and not quite sure how this dance works anymore. Sharing a bathroom becomes daunting, and little routines that you’ve had are shattered by a new presence. Dogs who have had no restrictions are suddenly en point and having to “stay in your beds.” Schnauzers can look particularly confused I’ve found.
To add more to this conundrum, I am a runner, and known to wake up pre-dawn to get my fix, come back, walk my dogs and for me that’s the perfect way to start my day. The reality of this has not gone down too well in romantic quarters especially for a man who doesn’t wake up before it’s light, has never run, and has been quite vociferous in what dogs mean to him.
So let me take you back to a Saturday morning many weeks ago.Winter came suddenly in Cape Town and fortunately I was well stocked with wood. Friday was a warm and romantic evening, fire blazing, beautiful wine and delicious food. I had declared that I was running in the morning and put my running stuff out in anticipation. At the sound of the alarm, I was up in a flash and stumbling around in the dark as I got ready, there was no movement from the dark shape in the bed, and I exited pleased as punch with myself with mission accomplished.
Well, run completed in an hour, I quietly unlocked the front door, to the sound of said Schnauzer barking, grabbed both the dogs leashes and thought the best thing to do to was go walking to once again avoid awakening the sleeping beauty. I remember looking at the carpet and thinking, ” How the hell did we make so much mess with the fire?” There seemed to be soot all over the place.
Forty minutes later after a lovely amble in the vineyards I strolled home, sure that if he woke now, it was more than reasonable.
As I unlocked the front door I was hit with my name being barked out. I climbed the stairs with a heavy heart. Seated in bed with arms crossed over his chest, eyebrows knotted and hooded, glowering, his words were, “We’ve got a f…………. problem here.” Oh my beating heart.
So let me switch and tell you his side now. He vaguely heard me get up and leave and turned over to settle back into deep sleep. The dogs were quiet and slumbering.
Suddenly he is awake, the Schnauzer is barking, reverse jumping and backing hysterically into the bedroom, gazing intently down the staircase. There is a banging noise and with heart pumping, he steels himself to see who is downstairs and what the commotion is. Towel draped around his waist he begins the cautious descent to the lounge. What a surprise awaited him, there is a little boy clad in gumboots, jeans and jacket banging my fireplace door open and shut.
“What are you doing?” he yells. The response from the wide blue-eyed child was a lot of senseless mumbling but the door banging continues.
“You must go home, you are not allowed here, where are your Mom and Dad?” More mumbling, so he rapidly finishes the descent, takes the little hand, leads the child to the patio door, pushes him out and closes and locks the patio door again.
Schnauzer continues to be extremely vocal and is still jumping and barking at the fireplace. Bewildered he leans down to look and opens the door properly. Gazing up at him, sad eyes, with an air of inevitability, is my Yorkshire Terrior, covered in soot. In one fluid movement, like a true firefighter, he takes her out, rescues her from her dismal fate and bashes her down of all the soot. Clouds of soot dust settles everywhere.
Not long after this whole debacle, he hears my car, hears a muffled bark and then silence.
I, of course had come home totally oblivious of the preceding antics, thought he was sleeping, grabbed the dogs and left again. He then has a further 40 minutes to stew over the goings on and get more and more irritated by the start of his day.
As I stand hearing this furious account, my belly gets this unmistakable twinge and I begin to giggle, tears form in the corner of my eyes and soon I’m hanging over and gulping for air, the guffaws just can’t stop and I’m reminded of a school poem called, “Mrs Reece Laughs” by Martin Armstrong. “It germinates, it spreads, dimple by dimple……clusters of subterranean chuckles rise”
Staring at me the hilarity of it dawns on him, and the rigid, furious lines dissolve into shared hilarity.