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Spit ball

August 26, 2011

Like many men I love to grill.  I like it best with a little bit of music playing in the back ground, a cold beverage near by and the boys playing contentedly in the yard.  There’s just something about fire and meat that is cause for jubilation in one’s heart, something that reaches back to the origins of time.

Recently during one of these momentary man-raptures  I was taken away by incessant barking from our young, black lab Mattie.  After closer investigation, I could see that Mattie had dropped her drool laden, mud and grass speckled, generally disgusting tennis ball at the edge of her hidden fence  and it had rolled down the drive and across the street, leaving a distinct snail trail to its place of rest.    I watched as Mattie became more and more frustrated, passing back and forth at the edge of the DMZ, momentarily looking for eye contact with any of the five boys and then returning her gaze to the ball, all the time increasing her volume and her cadence of barking.

For a moment I thought to myself, “Is this dog really that stupid, does she really think that barking can bring the ball back across the street?”  I continued to flip and baste and before long I started to feel stress start to set in as now all I could hear was the continuous noise of our determined pooch.  Again my internal dialogue, which may have been more like muffled self-conversation was going to phrases like, “They dummy, there’s another ball in the garage” and eventually “MATTIE! SHUT UP!”  Only to be followed by the inevitable trump, “Damn Dog!” 

Rather than walk away from my grill, I started to yell for the boys, half of which were on the front lawn playing wiffle ball and the youngest two were probable reorganizing my tool box or re-wiring the car.  I then yelled (loud enough to be heard over the dog) to Sam and Isaac, who respond, “Just a minute Dad.”  I then grabbed Ben who was passing me with his bike helmet on and asked him to get the ball to which he replied, “Nope, I need a big person to cross the street.”  Even though I absolved him from any road crossing rules, he simply walked off,  got on his bike and started circling the barking Mattie and the frustrated Dad. 

Eventually, I started yelling to David, who was bouncing around on the trampoline on the back lawn.  David is a wonderful child and I love him more than words can express, but he definitely has conditional hearing.  I found myself yelling his name 3 and 4 times, to a continued response of “What?”  After yelling that I needed his help, I stopped and began to smile.

In a moment I had thought that my dog was ignorant and so far inferior to the intellect of man (which is true).  But, that disgusting ball of goo had reduced me to the very same tactic that Mattie had employed and the two of us had decided words (or barking) over action.  And for a moment I realized that in many ways and in many situations in my life I have thought that I could bark a ball back into the driveway or complain a cure to problem.


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  1. aelric permalink

    Playing music outside; incessant dog barking; admitted yelling. Glad I’m not your neighbor (or hope that you have a 10+ acre plot.

    • Glad to know, one less name for the invite list. And to think, I was going to encorporate shotgun fire at the next one…

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