There comes a time now and then in the night when I’m jerked from a relatively decent slumber by pain in my legs, the feeling is something like when I had all four wisdom teeth pulled at once, a deep throbbing pain that is nature’s way of saying “get your butt out of bed and move!” So tonight or this morning, depending on how you look at it I was up before the chickens walking around to work out the kinks and reduce the swelling in my calves and knees.
So I sound myself listening to Roy Orbison through the ear buds and decided to crank up Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night, a little video as I pace is a handy thing, it distracts the mind and makes time pass a little easier. I come by my appreciation of all things Orbison genetically, from my Dad. He’d watch some of the most unusual shows if Roy was going to be on, Saturday Night Live (he wasn’t really a fan of the show,) SCTV (I didn’t know he knew it existed,) and of course things like Johnny Cash Specials or Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, which wasn’t really a surprise at all.
You sat down and shut the hell up during an Orbison performance, lest you get the hairy eyeball, a look that told you doom was coming at the commercial if crap didn’t cease immediately. So we all shut up and I watched and the first thing that came through was the man’s vocal range (nearly 4 octaves I found out later in life) and then you started to catch the lyrics. If the world has produced a better balladeer I have yet to hear that person sing.
So, there I was, walking and sort of singing along. I say sort of because I have to be quiet lest I wake the whole house, well that’s one other person, and have her chastise my thoughtlessness. I also say sort of because I have a fraction of an octave range that dooms me to sing along with Junior Brown and Tennesee Ernie Ford, background bits for Sha Na Na and very little else, you don’t find many bass lead vocals, especially for those that torture musical scales.
Quiet singing leads to a little pep in the step when Ooby Dooby came on, and that’s when I notice my faithful canine watching my feet with interest, I’m danger close to his tennis ball. My dog Pepper and a tennis ball are a party waiting to happen, kick the ball at him and he’ll do amazing athletic feats to stop it, then roll it back to you across the room with amazing accuracy for more. Most of that should read in the past tense, sadly, he’s 12 now and his health isn’t the best; he’s thin and tires easy, stiff and slow when he used to be a tireless ball of energy in a mixed black lab and border collie package. He once got loose at my daughter’s soccer practice and it too the whole team 15 minutes to get the ball away from him, and the coach swore it was the best conditioning drill he’d found yet.
Tonight he watched my feet with the attention a rattlesnake gives the unsuspecting field mouse before it strikes, and my foot flicks the ball toward him. He’s up and its back to me a moment later and he’s poised like a spring. My feet continue to move in what I call dancing and some might refer to as a vertical seizure and after a few feints I flick it back, not hard anymore, and not trying to get it past him and there it comes back again and the eyes are still on me, his tensed frame responding slightly to every movement and feint but he’s on the ball, literally, with every flick.
We play for a few songs and I call it a game and he returns to his nap, looking quite pleased with himself and the knots are finally working out of my own legs. There’s no relationship quite like the one you’ll have with your dog, ready to play when you are, ready to sprawl on the couch with you, there with a twinkle in their eye when you’ve had a bad day. There’s a special place in heaven for dogs, of this I’m sure, and it’s full of tennis balls, and I’m sure Roy drops by now and then to play a set and a few encores for them.
© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.