Feet Understand

An old friend wrote to me a few days ago and confided that while she always found me interesting, she never really understood what I was talking about. She is a real estate person who worked her way to the top of the profession over the years, and I was one of about two people in the world her dog would not at least try to bite. It was a troubled, but thank god small, dog, with rage issues. She entertains her friends by having dinners for them, so the dog had plenty of potential victims.

He was a small black dog but not too small to do some damage, so I wasn't sure what to do when he would always come and jump up on me and nuzzle in close, or just stare at me like my faced matched a picture in a locket he wore next to his tags. "I think I can pet him."

"Everybody thinks so, which is why so many of them have been bitten."

Eventually she had to admit that for whatever reason, he wasn't afraid of me, and thus wasn't making a preemptive attack. I had one rival for this distinction, a man who looked after him when she was out of town or something, and who was apparently also chosen as a good companion for the anti-social.

I was thinking about what would help my old friend understand me. After all, the dog might not have been black just because I remember him that way. My little buddy is a spirit dog and thus not materialized in any particular manifestation, though I do believe he was black. I suppose that in the end understanding is best left to the feet. It is what they are designed for. The head is designed ... well let's just leave it there.

I am looking out the window and there is a tragic scene depicted. A small flamingo is in the street, with a chalk mark around him and on each side of the street there are other flamingos, gawking at the body. Around the body red roses are scattered.

This is for my neighbor, Kim, who last night snuck into our yard and planted these flamingos around in the flower beds and parking area. This was in response to a emails the substance of which was our dogs, because we look after each others dog.

"It doesn't matter why you were writing about flamingos, just tell the story."

"Okay. It's hard to explain anyway."

"Just for the record I don't understand you either. I'm gonna shut up and go unconscious."

"Thank you."

The flamingo references were just associations. It started when I wrote that I didn't know where I was and she wrote to look around and see if there were any flamingos. I sent her a youtube clip of Divine from Pink Flamingos, singing, "How much is that doggie in the window." Sometimes when I am writing letters, I will attach a video clip without watching it all the way through, which in this case was a bad idea. I went back later and watched the whole thing and it is in a word scatology. Divine eats some dog shit.

So I confessed my shame, and promised to avert my gaze whenever I pass flamingos in the future, no matter how pink they might be.

When Linda came in she said, "Why are there flamingos in the yard?"

"You've got to be kidding me."

But she wasn't. There were large ones and small ones, strategically placed so that I couldn't ignore them no matter where I looked. I wrote a one word email: "touche."

So the flamingo spontaneous street art project is escalating. Linda suggested just a line of flamingos crossing the street from our house to Kim's, but you can't stick them in the street. So I came up with the idea of a crime scene, with a dead flamingo inside a chalk outline, and all the others gawking from the curbs. The street is only used by the neighbors and delivery people, and they usually drive slowly. So the flamingo hasn't, so far, been actually run over.

An older man from down the street came by when I'd just finished it and told me how much he likes the birds. He was just being nice, complimenting me on the pink flamingos at the edge of the property. Still, he thought it was my taste in landscape design. Ouch. So I decided I had to add some flowers around the body.

Outside my window the Japanese Maple is fiery red and behind it there are large granite boulders, one of them forming a natural long flat bench for sitting. The dogs play in the drive, and once in awhile one of them goes over and sniffs, with a puzzled expression, the dead pink plastic bird and three red roses. And once in awhile somebody drives by and slows down and looks at the scene with the same expression as the dogs.

From: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

Posted: Tue - November 25, 2008 at 03:13 PM