Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Good-bye to Friends Past

Sappy sad pet post.

Fritz died over Christmas vacation. The poor lil' bugger had severe and apparently sudden diabetes. He didn't even last two hours after arriving at the vet's. I've (we've) lost pets before but Fritz was in a league of his own. That doesn't make the others easier to forget though.

As a kid, I remember bawling my eyes out after being told that our adopted Italian street dogs, Jake and Tippy, had been struck by cars in Naples after escaping from their owners' houses. In 1984, Jake was tossed over a wall and into our yard by some apparently unsatisfied Italian dog owners. Burgarly was a constant concern and Dad came up with the idea that this small mutt could be a guard dog. He gave her the tough-sounding moniker Jake and she promptly ran off. A month later she returned, but only after being humped by every mangy, diseased, flea-bitten, rabid, shit-eating cur within 10 miles of Lucrino. This fact was deduceed by the size of her accompanying horny canine entourage and the diversity of the massive litter she ended up squeezing out. Our kee-yoot wittle doggy was a slut. No two pups were remotely alike. All but one were given away to Americans; the last one we kept and named Tippy for the white tip on her grey tail.

The dynamic canine duo of mother and daughter used to tunnel under fences, jump over them, or squeeze their skinny bodies through the most impossibly tight gaps in a bid to explore their greater surroundings. They snuck into the pizzareia in the evenings and snuck down to the bus stop in the mornings. We liked them and they liked us. Mischevious, cunning, opportunistic ... despite embodying many qualities of the Neopolitans, both furiously hated Italians. They could sense nationality from hundreds of yards away. Even after we changed neighborhoods, no fuss was raised when Americans or Brits came down the street; but Italians, even from a block's distance at night in a power outage, faced forty combined pounds of frothing, barking hatred. It was a great deterrent to theft and general Neopolitan sleeze. Jake and Tippy were adopted by separate American families after we left for the States. It bothered me that they were separated and confined to small yards. In the end, I finally found comfort with the idea that these street dogs hadn't died of old age but from being themselves. Getting killed by a car is the only proper way for a Neopolitan street dog to die.

Ten years later we got our first cat, Fritz, soon after Mom passed away. With Trav gone at college, Dad was concerned about me coming home to an empty house after the school day ... he figured another presence in the house would help fill the big hole in my day-to-day routines. We ended up at PetSmart and, after he explained my situation to the "cat ladies" managing the giveaway, were quickly acquainted with the liveliest cat of the bunch. Indiana became Fritz and rapidly found his niche in our all-male household. He was a cool cat.

Yeah, I don't think this was going anywhere ... I'll try to end with a big thought. Pets have helped me get a handle on mortality.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Surprise! Life Doesn't Suck

Sometimes I still manage to surprise myself. It's an odd thing, especially since I think I'm a pretty deliberate guy.

During my visit to Blacksburg for the Charles "The Stupid" Delacuesta Graduation Extravaganza, I fully expected to feel wistful, sad, sentimental, etc. Subsequent to my own graduation, my visits to campus and the mountains and the old apartments had always welled-up bittersweet memories of how much fun I'd had in school. Worse, I struggled with the idea that I'd heard, over and over again, that "life is one long downhill slide after college". My experiences working and living in Alexandria leant it a ring of truth.

So yeah, I was pretty surprised when I didn't feel one bit of wistfulness or sentimentality. Not during the trip to Wind Rock, not in the midst of downtown drunks, not while driving across campus, not while walking past the old apartments in Foxridge, not while scarfing wings at BW3 or inhaling a Souvlaki gyro, not during an emergency lactose explosion on a VT crapper ... nada. This from a guy who spent his 26th birthday in mourning, who spent hours sifting through old party photos, who's struggled to find a niche in his new home. Blacksburg's familiar haunts and experiences prompted little more than recognition. It was the complete opposite of what I'd expected.

This could mean a lot of things. I suppose the best explanation is that I'm slowly settling in to a new life which, at worst, is "not un-satisfying". Or maybe it's the growing realization that Fun doesn't end sometime in the early 20s. [Hanging around 45-year-olds who still enjoy dirty jokes and drinking may have something to do with that.] I wish I could say I'm having the time of my life right now, but I'm not. It's been a bitch of a time meeting people. And I know I'm not suddenly incapable of being wistful. That's what makes this so odd.

Though I did get pretty sentimental for an old fashioned cock-fucking.

Monday, May 16, 2005