Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cupcake and the Dog in The Elevator

One day, on her way to visit a friend in a Manhattan apartment building, Cupcake was standing in an elevator awaiting take-off. She saw a woman and a dog approach the elevator. The woman stepped in normally, but the dog stopped and looked at the elevator warily, growling a little.

"Come on, sweetie," the owner cajoled, giving a little tug on the leash.

Uneasily, the dog stepped over the metal crevice and moved into the elevator, his eyes intent on watching the doors. He came and stood beside his owner, glaring at the doors. When they closed, he quietly growled again. He leaned against his owner, who bent down and gave him an encouraging pat.

"The doors closed on him once when he was a puppy," the owner explained to Cupcake. "He wasn't hurt, but since then he's never quite trusted the elevator."

Cupcake's friend's floor arrived before the dog got off, so she did see his negotition of that necessity.

As Cupcake walked down the hall to her friend's apartment, she felt bad for the dog. Afraid of elevators, it nevertheless must ride in one several times every day. Cupcake hoped for the dog's sake that one day the owner would move to a house in the suburbs with a big yard. Or at least to a lower floor.

But then Cupcake's friend opened the door, and there was much merriment, and Cupcake forgot about the whole thing until August rolled around.

That's because Cupcake feels about August the way the dog felt about elevators. She doesn't quite trust it. August has caught Cupcake in its metal jaws more than once. Always, they've been completely impersonal attacks. She can't really BLAME August. And yet she finds that when it rolls around, she is slightly uncomfortable, and wishes that, now and then, to help her endure the ordeal, God would reach down and give her a reassuring pat.

Cupcake's friend, the Renowned Psychic, says that regardless of what day calendars begin on, the actual New Year is September first. The Renowned Psychic points out that starting a new school year sticks with you, after 12 years of programming. And Cupcake agrees with her. This is partly because Cupcake used to be a realtor in Boston, where all leases run from September 1 through August 31. The Saturday and Sunday nearest those dates are called "U-Haul Weekend", and traffic moves even worse than usual as every block is impeded by double-parked vehicles with mattresses strapped to the top.

But Cupcake also reckons that it makes sense because, if school starts on September 1, it makes August like a giant Sunday night. And Sunday nights before school, Cupcake recalls, are the anxious hours when one jams in all the homework that one ought to have done over the weekend, but one has happily neglected.

However, it's not because she's scrambling to repay social order and approach justice that Cupcake distrusts August. It's that more often than not it's been a month where dogs die, or lovers make Exits Unexpected, or Cupcake realizes that her job is Beyond Bearable, or checks bounce, or meter maids go on writing frenzies, or nails break, or other dogs run away and are eaten by coyotes, or Cupcake has to admit that something she thought was a harmless little prank actually had evolved to something not particularly sensible (or sane) and potentially hurtful to someone she cared about, or mentors turn traitors, or--- damn, you name it.

Just thinking about various Augusts in her history makes Cupcake bare her teeth and brace herself for attack.

This August (so far) has been skipping by, innocent and unblemished by unpleasantness. But Cupcake nevertheless is uneasy. Her days have been passing happily-- and yet intensely, as though there's unheard background music hinting at ominousness to come.

Cupcake believes in emotional echoes. She understands it to be natural that she would remember, consciously or un, last year's death-vigil over her most beloved dog, and tearful nights post revelation of duplicity to her beloved friend. And other years, of despair that was the sickness unto death, and lovers who seemed abducted by aliens and replaced by heartless replicants, and long walks down country lanes calling helplessly and hopelessly for the little deaf one-eyed geriatric dog who had last been seen outside around the same time the coyote pack ran through howling like something out of Hitchcock--

So just now Cupcake's not much in a mood for writing. She anticipates that she'll return, happy as a package of newly-sharpened #2 pencils, as soon as September 1 rolls around.

Until then, she is growling warily, stepping over cracks, leaning against what reassuring knees she can find, and knowing that next year, she'll have to go through August yet again.


Blogger cuff said...

And here TS Eliot would have you believe that April is the cruelest month...

I love the idea of the academic calendar ruling my life. I am so much more interested in the start of another semester than I am in New Year's Day (except that NYD generally follows hard on the heels of the MLA convention).

You have made it more than halfway through this August.

5:38 PM  

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