Saturday, March 15, 2008

En plein air

And so this is Texas in March: one morning, it's snowing; less than a week later, it's beginning to look a lot like spring.

Ah, spring. When historically, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

And a suburban housewife says: for heaven's sake, let's throw open the doors and windows and get some fresh air moving around this joint.

Because with two boys and one generally-potty-trained-but-hey-nobody's-perfect girl under our roof, I'm sorry to report that my nose is frequently assaulted by eau de pee-pee.


Happily, we now have a nice infusion of cool breeze, lightly scented with notes of new green grass from our backyard, and pear blossoms from our neighbor's.

Unhappily, said neighbor's backyard also plays host to a beagle.

A beagle who spends the vast majority of his waking hours (which, it should be noted, often conflict with our nonwaking hours) outside, and unhappy about it.

And if you have any experience with the breed, you know: when a beagle is unhappy, every living creature in a three-mile radius shares the sentiment.

We don't know why the beagle's people turn a deaf ear to his unerringly consistent howls of righteous indignation, although Trey has been driven to seek them out and ask them this very question.

Would you believe? Their phone number is unlisted. Go figure.

Me, I'm not a huge fan of confrontations. I don't know; maybe it's that whole child-of-divorce thing.

No, I like to take the indirect route and, whenever possible, keep things light.

So I wrote them a letter. In the form of a poem. That rhymes!

"Dear Neighbor:

We once owned a beagle, so we feel your pain.
But your dog is driving us insane.
Whatever the hour, day or night,
He barks and he bays: it’s just not right.
We lack helpful suggestions, but we’re begging you: please
Try bark training him, or we’ll call the police.

Best wishes,
Your Neighbor"

I hate to brag, but I consider this a crowning achievement in prose. I believe I've struck a near-perfect balance of sympathy and smackdown: that's no small feat, friends.

However: this letter will, despite Trey's protests, go undelivered.

Why? Three reasons: the past. The present. And the future.

1. The past: I wasn't exercising poetic license in my opening line. Trey and I are, in fact, reformed beagle people.

For nine long and trying years, we owned a beagle named Boo who, for so many reasons, deserves (and, had she possessed verbal skills, would have demanded) a blog post of her very own.

Whilst in our care, Boo was always an inside dog. With her own couch.

But occasionally, and often against her will, she did spend time in the great outdoors. And on those occasions, she might have barked once or twice or three trillion times.

Mercifully, our neighbors never taped a note of complaint on our front door. Because I'm sure that would have stung. Even if it had rhymed.

2. Currently, we are not only beagle-free, but altogether pet-free. However, I assure you: wherever we go with three muppers in tow, we generate our fair share of noise pollution.

But other than the occasional surly comment slung our way in the dairy aisle at Whole Foods (correct me if I'm wrong, Trey, but I believe the exact rebuke was, "You should really learn to control your children."), people seem surprisingly good-natured about our varying decibel levels.

I don't always succeed, but I do try to find my own measure of gratitude, humility and tolerance in others' gestures of grace.

3. Last but not least, I worry that if I share that gem of a poem with my neighbors, they of the noisy beagle, I might somehow find it smeared across the blogosphere.

And I can't say for sure, but I'll bet that passive-aggressive notes are only hysterically funny when you're not the author.

So: our doors and windows will stay open for a few more weeks, until the temperature goes hot and stuffy on us and we're forced to turn on the air conditioner.

The beagle will continue to bark. Because that's what beagles do.

But we'll try a little harder to find a happy medium. Or maybe I'll just try my hand at more epic poetry. Who knows?

Note: although he may never read it, I'd like to dedicate this post to my father. Not only because he's survived a few beagles of his own and lived to tell the tale, but because today is his birthday.

Happy birthday, Daddy.


Blogger anniemcq said...

I feel your pain re: the noisy beagle. And the fear of confrontation. The poem is pure, um, poetry, though! As we like to say in our classroom when one of us wishes aloud for a miracle: good luck with that.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

And this just reconfirms my complete adoration for you my friend. By the end of the poem, I was wiping tears away through my laughter with Andrew quizzically wondering what could possibly be so funny. My explanation probably didn't do the situation justice, just make you sound just slightly crazy.

Sorry about the noise. I don't have any words of wisdom with that one!

6:35 PM  

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