Tonight, my thoughts are abstracted as I stand before the sink, a slice of cold meatloaf poised half-raised to my mouth. The harsh rasp of Sally’s expectant breathing echoes in the dim kitchen. I imagine that it can be heard on planes that fly overhead. While it is an expected byproduct of her medical condition, I suspect she uses it rather more than is necessary to draw our attention at meal or snack times. Panting and drooling. She was sound asleep when I crept into the kitchen for my snack of cold meatloaf. Of course, I remind myself that she can sense it being sliced a mile away. It was only a matter of time before she was there, gazing up at me with her most adorable expression on display.
“Share with those of Us who have not.” The local talent is hard to resist.
Battling Disappointment with Perfect Meatloaf
Today, I published my first serious book of essays. This was something different from the little chapbooks I’d put out. No one wanted it. My KDP graph shows only one sale. I take a bite of meatloaf and absently wipe the top of my foot against the back of my pajama pants. Dingo drool is cold, even in the South. It’s a bit difficult not to let my predisposition to sarcasm and bitterness take center stage at this point. It’s only the first day. Give it time. But where were all those people who were so excited about it? In my mind I see an empty street with tumbleweeds.
It’s going to take time, I know. And the hard work has only just started. Earlier, after I’d made the meatloaf, I had a bad spell of self pity. Thankfully, that’s gone. I was just worn out. It happens. Automatically, I pass a hunk of meatloaf to the dog, who consumes it without tasting it, but with a joyous appreciation that I’ve never seen in a human. It is particularly good meatloaf, this. The secret to getting it just right is to treat it like bread dough.
You’ve got to get in there with some scrupulously clean hands and get unscrupulously messy. Otherwise, it won’t be finely mixed and won’t hold together as well.
Tonight, I took my frustrations out on the raw meat and egg, mixed them for far longer than usual. I make a meditation of the next bite. Dare I draw a parallel between my writing and vigorous meatloafing? I think I must. Because the alternative is to go out and do something else with my life. I don’t want to. I want this. I look down at the upturned face of my dog–her ears pricked, her jaws agape, eyes round and shining with wistful hope.
Lessons Dogs Teach Us
I’ve just finished writing and publishing a book all about how awesome dogs are, how much they mean to us as a species. How could I not understand one of the primary laws of their being? Desire is always worth pursuing, and pursing until it is fulfilled. She seems to say, as we regard one another in the dim kitchen,
“So, no one bought your book today. So what? It’s good isn’t it? You love it and want people to read it, right?” Her paw pointedly presses against the top of my foot as she, never breaking eye contact, reminds me with a small whine that there’s still meatloaf to be shared. “If you want something and no one gives it to you, keep asking until they do. Because there’s no shame in going after what you want until the last crumb is gone and the table has been cleared.”
Of course, I give her meatloaf, a whole slice one bite at a time, just for the wisdom she’s imparted. Of course, I realize our conversation was all in my head, but the behavior that motivated my little dialogue holds water. Dogs go after what they want. They employ whatever tactics are necessary to attain their goal–usually something you’re enjoying and not sharing. They can be blunt or subtle, manipulative, too. But they are also honest about their wishes. There’s no mistaking the meaning in that gaze, in the cold spots of drool, the importunate paw. They mean business. And so do I. Because no one has such a dog, and no one should. But I do, and I wouldn’t trade her for all the meatloaf in the world.
So, I’m not going to give up. In fact, I’m going to be more persistent and shameless than ever, and I won’t turn aside in regret. If my self-promotion is an irritant to you, well, so be it. Maybe I’ll take a page out of the Dingo’s book and see if you’re more inclined to acquiesce to my desires from the left side, since I had no luck on the right. But no, no drooling. I’ll leave that to the Master.
No One Has Such a Dog, and No One Should… But you can get a copy of the exploits of Dingo and other Persons of Importance and Great Worth for your very own.