UNITED STATES—The doggies are circling around each other in the cold living room. They have stopped repelling and are merely sniffing each other. If children were present they would point and snicker. The uniqueness of this situation in the rickety house with pointed arabesque doorways between the living room and breakfast nook is that you have two adult specimens who do not raise a finger to interrupt nature’s ritual.

Lee and Tina are convulsing from their place on the couch.

“You are very childish,” says Tina.

Lee fumes a moment and looks over at Tina with pouting eyes.

“Have you been going to a gym.”

“Naw, since out roommie Raphael came with Cutie, I’ve been walking her. It’s good for me. Heck yeah. It’s a nice routine. There’s something healthy about putting attention outside of yourself. I’ve cut down on my therapy sessions by half since I have Deveraux.”

Tina goes into peels of laughter watching the dogs’ latest contortions.

Cutie the poodle with the pink-ribboned fluffy neck had the glazed eye look as Deveraux was thrusting his hind legs toward her fluffy hind, with that puppy dog look of utter desperation. It is uncannily human and soulful. It reminded Lee of a nice woman with taffy hair and a bearded guy, obviously on a first date.

“I want to jump from an airplane, I don’t know if I’m ready. I want to do it all,” said the young guy, raising his arms in Pacinoesque fashion. “Why not?” said the young woman. It was so funny. A half block later he was kissing her goodbye, morosely in sweet parting before going to his car. With passion and sorrow, and Lee, knowing dogs and people knows this guy will be onto the next she-doggie, before you can say heel.

“Oh, Bartleby, oh humanity,” Lee thought to himself.

Cutie’s eyes smile placidly. It is a look exactly like that of certain clients at nail salons throughout the city. She is both removed from Deveraux’s bestial pelvic gyrations and privy to a pleasant sensation.

Deveraux on the other hand withdraws abruptly after a few moments of twist and thrust. The moments go by. Tina gets up from the couch and puts on a small space heater. The Lady and the Tramp start to cycle around each other again, sniff and circle. This doggie dance is repeated over and over again in the corner of the living room, under the doorway Arabesques, in the back by the refrigerator with the sloping floor.

They did their dance, once knocking over a fern by the window sill. Cutie remains cheerful like a matron at a nail salon. Tina and Lee laugh. Deveraux’s desperation is heightened because he was fixed, and each time he becomes excited, his loins are approaching and flirting with that ecstasy denied by surgical incision.

“Poor thing,” says Tina. “He’s in love.”

“I think you’re right, Tina,” Lee said as he inched toward Tina.

Lee had never looked at her as anything but his friend’s older sister. She looks younger and toned underneath her black slacks. The impression of middle age has dispelled, apparently due to dog walking.

“Having a dog has been good for you,” Lee says.

“Wine?” Tina says.

“No, I can’t,” he says. “I’ll start telling you how it really feels having a dog. Sometimes it’s nice as can be. But when the dog and my agenda clash. It’s a bitch.”

“You need patience.”

“Patience?” replies Lee. “He’ll walk all over me, like Joanne did.”

To be continued

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Hollywood humorist Grady Miller grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)