Arapahoe, February 23
I came home from church to find Smut, my old black Labrador retriever, the picture of contentment. He was sitting in his favorite easy chair dressed in his finest smoking jacket with his red fez sitting at a jaunty angle, a cigar in his mouth and a glass of my good Scotch whisky on the table beside him. He was reading the Sunday paper, and two of his particle physics textbooks were lying on the table beside his glass of whisky.
“Well, hello old dog,” I said. “Glad to see you’re calm and content this afternoon.”
Smut gave me a dismissive look and resumed reading the paper. After pouring myself a cup of coffee, I sat down at my computer to check emails. As I put my hands on the keyboard, I felt something gritty and looked down to see distinctive paw prints and sand on the keyboard. I shook the sand out and went to Smut.
“You have been on my computer, silly mutt. What are you up to?”
Confronted with my anger and evidence, Smut’s air of self assurance dissipated and a look of guilt, then resignation, spread across his face. “All right, I confess,” he said contritely. “A few weeks ago I borrowed your credit card and joined christianmongrel.com.”
“You used my credit card to join an online dating service! What were you thinking, you silly canine?”
“It was worth it, though,” he replied. “I met a wonderful Labrador named Bonnie, and I have been corresponding with her online. At night when you go to sleep, I talk to her on your cell phone.”
“That was dog slobber on my phone! I thought it felt nasty.”
“Bonnie and I have gotten to know each other and like each other,” he said.
“But you already have a companion,” I told him. “That’s why we got Mischief several years ago.”
“That’s what everyone thinks. Because they see us together, they think that Mischief and I are a couple. The truth, though, is that although I like Mischief very much, she doesn’t feel the same way about me. She thinks of me as a casual friend. And she’s younger than I, so we don’t share the same life experiences. When you feed us, she will not let me eat until she’s finished.”
“Well, I know Mischief can be a bit testy, but I thought you two were compatible.”
“No, I want someone I can talk to and feel comfortable with. Someone who shares my interests. Someone I can enjoy being with. Someone with whom I potentially can develop a deep and caring relationship. Bonnie is so nice, and she is interested in particle physics. She’s more interested in the practical side of physics, while I enjoy the theoretical aspects, but the interest is complementary. We’re like the Higgs boson and Inflation.”
I did not know the old dog could be so eloquent in expressing his feelings. I didn’t understand the bit about the Higgs boson and Inflation, though. “What is that,” I asked him.
“The Higgs boson is a scalar particle that contributes sense to the standard particle physics model, and the Inflation is a scalar particle that contributes sense to the cosmology standard model, the Big Bang theory. As you would say it, ‘Bonnie and I are two peas in a pod.’”
“Oh. Where does Bonnie live,” I asked.
“She lives in Raleigh,” he said.
Understanding where the conversation was going, I told Smut, “That’s too bad, old dog. I’m not going to take you back and forth to Raleigh to develop a relationship no matter how wonderful Bonnie is. It’s too far.”
Smut looked at me imploringly. “Please,” he said, “We like each other and we want to meet nose to nose.”
“Not gonna happen, dog,” I told him. “Have you even seen a picture of Bonnie? What does she look like?”
“No, I haven’t seen a picture of her.”
“Well, what if she looks like a…” I realized that what I was going to say was both ugly and of course pointless.
“I don’t need a picture to know that she is beautiful,” Smut said. “I know that from talking to her and getting to know her.”
“Well, it’s just too far to travel,” I repeated.
Smut crossed his paws, looked at me calmly and said, “Bonnie’s human told her it was all right to invite me to visit this Friday. One way or another, I’m going to Raleigh.”
“What do you know about Bonnie’s human,” I asked.
“Bonnie says she is sweet and loving to her and a good companion. They live alone.”
Well, that piqued my interest. I gave in and said, “OK, Smut, we’ll go up to Raleigh.”
Raleigh, February 28
After we knocked on the front door, we were met by a black Lab that looked like Smut, and a very attractive human, uh, woman. Bonnie and Smut performed the obligatory sniffing and then went into the back yard. Bonnie’s human and I talked on the back porch.
Both dogs are near the end of their lifespans, but that was not apparent as they romped around the backyard, quite obviously smiling and having fun being with each other. They looked so happy! It reminded me of how Smut had been as a puppy and a young dog, before the arthritis set in, and before he acquired his distasteful habits involving cigars and Scotch. Smut was right, of course, about Bonnie’s appearance; to him Bonnie is beautiful.
Before I realized it, a couple of hours had passed and it was time for Smut and me to head back to Arapahoe. On the trip back, Smut seemed very happy, but uncharacteristically, he had little to say, except “Thank you.”
Arapahoe, March 1
“What’s wrong with Smut,” Mischief asked. “He’s hardly spoken to me all day, and he has this dreamy, satisfied look on his face. Did you give him drugs when you were gone yesterday? ”
“Not exactly,” I said. “Smut’s just thinking about someone he met.” I was, too.
Arapahoe, March 2
When I returned home after church, Smut approached me, doubtful about how to ask what I knew he wanted. But I preempted him.
“Smut,” I asked, “if I can arrange it, would you like to go with me to Raleigh Friday?”