“Hey Charlie … how do you want yours?”
It was Harold, wearing his dumb-ass New York Giants apron and his New York Yankees oven mitt. Last year, I had to listen to how he got his end-of-season steal on his blah-blah-blah gas grill with the griddles and grates and multi-position and self-igniting whatever.
“Medium rare, Harold.”
“Steak or burger?”
“Surprise me.” I hated char-broiled, dried-out barbecue, though I always overate and despised myself afterwards. This time I intended to slip whatever he put on my plate to Roxy, their fat-ass Labrador Retriever, who’d eat her own shit medium rare.
I couldn’t gracefully ease away, so we shot the breeze for a couple of minutes gabbing about Aaron Judge, the rookie phenom with the Yankees … not that I really cared, though I often listen to sports radio through the night when I had trouble getting back to sleep.
He spatula’d the burgers onto a couple of buns, then slid them onto a paper plate. “Here ya go, sport. Ketchup, mustard, all the fixins’re over there.”
He was already slurring his words. I mean, I knew he drank, and usually to excess, but this was early, even for him.
I went over to the pool – “Ya know it costs me a goddamn fortune to keep it cleaned and maintained … and heated” – and I sat down next to my wife Ginnie, who was discussing The Secret Wife with several of the women who were reading it for their book club. Ginnie’s salad bowl – she never ate meat outside our house – looked a lot healthier than the burgers and buns I was balancing on my plate.
Moments later, Roxy waddled over and nudged her nose against my elbow. “Nay nay, shit head,” I mumbled. Last time, that nudge-move made me drop my burgers and all the fixins onto my lap. I quickly became the center of hilarity as Harold’s wife Angie apologized on her knees with a wet dishrag. I’m pretty sure she was doing a bit more wiping than necessary on the front of my shorts, while Harold stood pointing and chortling.
Then, I had driven home to change, and toyed with the idea of not going back. I’ve done that kind of disappearing act before, and I had the perfect opportunity. I could’ve called Ginnie on her cell and feigned a stomach ache or other malady, but I’d never hear the end of it. So I resigned myself to dealing with more of the get-together bullshit and returned to the party.
So now there’s this idyllic suburban tableau on a balmy June afternoon, there’s superficial talk about a book I’d never ever bother to look at, and there’s this pig-dog slobbering next to me, waiting. And because sometimes I couldn’t control the urge, I eased the burgers out of the bun, looked around and surreptitiously flipped them into the pool. Roxy followed them in with a splash and made them disappear in two quick swallows.
Harold came running over shouting, “Hey! Get the hell outa there! … I told ya … I’m warnin’ you … get the fuck outa there!”
Roxy dog-paddled furiously into the deep end, meanwhile leaving behind a stringy trail of diarrhea. She’d probably already gotten handouts from other guests. But Roxy obviously couldn’t climb up the ladder and she couldn’t pull her way up onto the deck. And so she started panicking and hyperventilating.
“Oh shit … oh shit …” Harold jumped into the pool and had to grab the squirming, wild-eyed dog around her body because there was no collar to grasp onto. She became ever more frantic as he wrestled her over to the edge.
“C’mon, gimme a hand!” A couple of already-half-sloshed men got on their knees to drag out the bedraggled Roxy, who, once standing, shook off all over them, their wives and their designer sarongs.
I was racked with laughter. I couldn’t stop shaking though I did cover my mouth. I laughed even harder when I considered that it was too bad that none of them had fallen in.
When I finally composed myself and dried my eyes, Ginnie leaned over to me and whispered, “I saw what you did, Charlie. But I love you because you make me laugh. You certainly are one rare son-of-a-bitch.”
Rev 3 / June 18, 2017
June 2017 Copyright © 2017, Lloyd B. Abrams