It cannot be said that the few minutes I stand beneath the shower head and feel the warm water cascading over my body are a sublime escape from the ordinary stresses of daily life. With two dogs lounging on my bed, too much can go wrong. And they know it. Although, from their perspective, so much can go right.
I heard the thump and knew precisely what was going on. Bowie had obviously not been thwarted in his quest for a good read by the framed picture I placed in front of the stack of books on my nightstand. It’s a teetering tower, and my boy intuits how much I like those things. The way I cuddle them, and calmly sigh with satisfaction when I arrange myself every night for a few minutes of pleasurable, pre-sleep distraction. How can she like those things? They don’t even do anything, he must think.
At the same time that I shrieked, “Leave it,” I stemmed the delightful aquatic cascade and stepped out of the tub, simultaneously reaching for a towel. Before I had even toweled off, I tugged the door open and squinted toward my bed, where Bowie appeared to be lying innocently. Mona looked up from her position next to the bed, innocent as well. My eyes without glasses in front of them are pretty useless, but I could just make out the small, blurry, rectangular shape next to Bowie.
Seeing that neither dog was engaging in criminal behavior in that particular moment, I took the time to towel myself off and put my glasses on. Still naked, I examined my teetering tower of books, trying to assess if any others had been tampered with. I suspected that there was one missing. You should be forgiven for daring to vividly imagine my body next contorting to see — and then reach — beneath my bed for my latest literary victim, which was lying just out of reach. It struck me how much it resembled a sunken shipwreck, its back broken and with parts of its cover surrounding it like spilled treasure.
Using the softball bat that I keep under my bed (for defense against home invaders*), I was able to sweep the book toward me. I then stood and held up the victim of this most recent misdemeanor. Bowie looked straight ahead, avoiding my gaze, while Mona looked up at me with angelic eyes. Both waited to see what stern words Mommy was going to say.
It was one of those moments where I favored the high road. I had no choice but to give both Bowie and Mona the “BOD”. As exculpatory evidence, the book lying next to Bowie was still intact — no chew marks, no sheared off pieces. The book I had retrieved from under the bed — the real casualty — was closer to Mona. But, how could I not place greater weight on a suspect’s reputational cache?
After a silent few seconds, I concluded the matter with a simple, You guys get a pass this time. At the sound of “you guys” both pairs of ears perked up. They only ever hear it followed by things that are wonderful, such as, You guys want to go for a walk? or, You guys hungry? The crime was already in the past, as far as they were concerned. With a renewed bounce in their step, both headed with great anticipation for my bedroom door. I decided I should probably return my weapon beneath the bed. . . and get dressed before taking them for a walk.
* * *
*I don’t have plans to ever keep a gun in my nightstand or under the mattress, but considering all the scary TV series I watch, I often am anxious when I head up to bed at night. Hence, I logically keep a softball bat beneath my bed. In a conversation once with my younger daughter, she asked, “Do you even know how you would use it in the moment?” I demonstrated my flawless batting stance and swing, a holdover from my early days of softball play. “Nope, that won’t work,” she offered with great certainty and finality. Apparently, for my weapon to have even the most remote chance of inflicting harm on a home invader (on the order of a “slight bruise” most likely), I’d have to choke up, really choke up, much more than I ever did when I played softball. It would feel so unnatural; could I even do it?