Saying Good Bite
Saying goodbye is so...difficult.
I really hate it.
That's why I decided to stop saying goodbye.
I mean, its not like I have the power of immortality or anything.
And it's not that I'll never love anyone for fear of one day being forced to let them go.
It's more like, I choose to go without ever again uttering the cruelest word in the English language, "good bye".
I decided this when I was thirteen years old.
It was on my birthday, the very day I became a teenager, that my favorite dog, Beetle, died.
Isn't that the craziest thing?
Becoming a teenager is the one event a twelve year old girl looks forward to for an entire year, and then on that glorious morning, when I woke up, feeling like a brand new woman (not a kid, a woman!) Beetle suddenly dies of old age.
Beetle was seventeen years old but I can't say I saw it coming.
As far as I was concerned, that dog and I were going to have the time of our lives together.
My best friend Michael and I had already decided that we were definitely dressing Beetle in a tux and somehow sneaking her into our senior prom.
It never once occurred to either of us that friendship comes with an expiration date.
My ignorance, I quite easily blame on my parents; they think those numbers printed on the outside containers of their favorite perishable foods are just bar codes. Yep, that's my parents.
But Michael... Michael is an entirely different story.
His story ran into mine six years ago, when my parents and I first moved into our "new" neighborhood and I was wandering the sidewalks ( I wasn't allowed to wander the "streets", just the sidewalks and grass.) with Beetle.
As Beetle and I took our walk along the pavement I kept having to tug at her leash because she was so excited about being in a new place that she was yanking me around in an attempt to get a close up of every little scent that flew past her nose.
"Beetle! Chill out girl!" I commanded.
But Beetle was in no mood for my commands.
We approached a driveway where a cute little girl played on her pink tricycle.
"Great..." I mumbled as Beetle slowed in anticipation, "NO BE-"
Before the shout had a chance to leave my lips, the crazy beast tore away from me, her leash falling out of my grasp, and headed straight for the shocked little girl.
For a split second, the little girl and I were both frozen in fear.
Fortunately, I'm not the type to go all numb-brained in an emergency.
Quickly coming to, I imitated the voice of the one person in our family who Beetle actually listened to.
"BEEE-DUHHL NO!!" I bellowed in my best version of a deep voice.
The little girl came out of her state of shock, took one look at me and started to cry while Beetle skidded to a stop, turned around to frantically scan the scenery and sniff the air for any sign of my dad's presence.
At the same moment, several front doors to several different houses flew open and people came running out.
Beetle trotted back towards me, her tail between her legs.
I felt exactly the same way.
Quickly collecting her leash, I turned to one of the neighbors who was running over.
"Sorry, I just had to stop my dog from scaring the kid over there." I spoke quickly.
This neighbor, a tall frowning woman who reminded me of the one interpreter who my parents absolutely hated, slowed from her "run" to stomp her way to me and once directly in front of me, she placed her hands on her hips and looked down at me,
"It is against the law to have a dog roaming the streets without a leash! Do you understand what that means?"
I didn't like this woman.
Not only was she yelling at me like I was some sort of a goofy freak, but she wreaked of garlic and was standing close enough for me to practically taste it in my mouth.
Taking a step back, I coolly leaned over and deliberately picked up Beetle's leash,
"This is a leash. Excuse me."
Moving to step around her, I maneuvered Beetle away from the crazy neighbor lady who all of a sudden reached out and grabbed the leash from me,
"That is not a leash! I'll have you know that according to state law, a belt used to hold up a pair of pants does not constitute a proper leash for an animal!"
Shocked, I glanced at my father's belt in her hand.
OK, so she had a point, it was a belt and not a leash.
Even so, garlic breath was way too intense for me.
Besides, if she'd really wanted to help, I figured that instead of yelling at me she would've stopped to attend to the crying little girl like the other neighbors were doing.
In one smooth motion, I grabbed the belt/leash back from her and Beetle glanced at me, cocking her head to the side as she tried to figure out what was going on,
"If my dog was so awful, she would've hurt you by now. Look at her, she's really sweet, she's can't hurt anyone."
If the woman had done as I'd suggested and taken a look at Beetle she would have experienced a picture perfect moment during which Beetle was leaning down to politely sniff the lady's garlic smelling shoes.
But she didn't look at my dog, instead, she turned beet red, clenched her fists and I took another step back.
"Where do you live?" She demanded.
"No." I shook my head, "I don't give strangers my address."
Completely creeped out, I began to walk away.
"I'm not a stranger, I'm the neighbor whose going to tell your parents what you've done and then call Animal Control! I'll find out young lady!!" She yelled after me.