When my daughter Leia came back to live with us she brought a white Schnauzer named Daisy. Daisy and I play in the yard in the classic fashion: I throw something and she runs after it. But about this activity there is a confession to be made.
There used to be a patch of grass near the back door. I now know that it disappeared because I have a broken sprinkler line, but that remained a mystery for months. When I say “disappeared”, I don’t mean those four square yards of existence were sucked into some drive-by black hole. Rather, the grass dried up and it has been replaced with dry, loose dirt and a few marginally decorative weeds.
Daisy’s favorite toy of late has been a partially inflated basketball — not a real basketball, but one emblazoned with a Sprite logo and slightly undersized, which works out well for both of us. It’s under-inflated state allows me to grab it with one hand and toss it under hand or overhand between the arbor uprights or through the trees, bouncing it off patio tables and Jacuzzi cover and sometime the walls and air conditioner compressor. No damage is done. Daisy is able to grab it and shake it as if it were a small animal for which her breed has been optimized to hunt down and destroy.
Daisy and I are happy, but here comes the Mea Culpa.
When the ball lands in the aforementioned four square yards of unadulterated mother earth, Daisy does not just stop and pick it up like she does in other locations. She braces her legs like a canine Ty Cobb (Maury Wills, Rickey Henderson — pick your generation) and slides through the dirt with vigor and enthusiasm, causing a cloud of dust easily visible from surrounding backyards. I’m sure she enjoys doing this as much as I enjoy facilitating this canine pollution.
On one level, I know I should be responsible and not be creating the worlds dirtiest Schnauzer. But, I hear myself yelling, “Good, girl! Way-to-go, Daisy!”
Maybe this why women say men are like dogs. I prefer to think that I have retained (even at this twice-30-plus age) the spontaneity and playfulness of a little boy, a spirit needed for creativity. Little girls have tea parties. Little boys steal the teacups and use them to build forts in the mud. Creativity demands both playfulness and mischievousness or it will just be boring.
Time to go out to the yard, and no one tell Leia about this, OK?