I had plans for Jen’s birthday. We were set to have dinner at a new restaurant downtown, and after some last-minute scrambling we found a sitter we know but have never used before (we’ve gone to church with their family for years). Finn and I took the dog out to run errands, and she started complaining about not feeling good at the Home Depot, where Hazel was the hit of the store. We stopped in PetSmart to pick up a yard lead, some chew sticks, a new collar, and a better harness, and Finn looked worse. Out in the parking lot I was holding Hazel while waiting for Finn to get in and she threw up next to the truck.
I packed both of them up and got them home, where we hosed off Finn’s feet and shoes and she went inside. Then I canceled the sitter and our reservation, and we downgraded our plans for something quieter. I’m sorry, baby.
Hazel is settling in well so far, and we’re adjusting to the reality of a new creature in our household who needs constant attention. As puppies go, she’s an absolute dream. She’s able to hold her bowels overnight and make it out to the front lawn at 7AM—but not much past that. She doesn’t bark or carry on when she’s alone at night, and she’s cool with the crate overall. Now that she’s comfortable in the house she’s happier to play and gnaw on things, but she responds to “No” and “Leave it” very quickly. And she wants to walk further and further each day, even though she’s got some anxiety issues with noises and dogs and cars and people.
Finn and I were walking the dog on Sunday afternoon, enjoying the sunshine and cool air, and a truck pulled up alongside us on Frederick Road. A big late-model Ford quad-cab, easily a $60+K truck. The driver half-yelled, half-slurred something like “C’mere” and waved at us; I stopped where I was on the sidewalk and Finn stood beside me, slightly behind me. This kind of thing happens frequently where we live; people get lost and stop to ask for directions quite often in this age of Siri and Google Maps. But whatever.
The man then started talking to us in a rambling, slurring, mumbling voice, and as he began he picked a magazine up off the passenger-side seat next to him. I caught a glimpse of it and something registered and I thought, is that what I think it is? The words I could make out were something about Morseberger’s (the bar down the street in the middle of Catonsville), his daughter in Florida who doesn’t talk to him, driving around—at this point he stopped and said, “is that your daughter?” at which I point the alarm bells were beginning to ring and I didn’t bother to hide the annoyance on my face and said, “Yes?”—and then he mentioned Morseberger’s again and kept looking at me, and then the magazine, and then me again and mumble-talking. It was at this point I could actually make out what the magazine was: a girlie mag of the quality you’d find in a porno shop. And he was looking at Finn.
I snapped. I started yelling at him: “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. YOU ASSHOLE! GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!”
He actually looked shocked, and had the nerve to look wounded, like I’d just kicked his dog. Then he dropped the magazine back down on the seat, struggled to put his truck in gear and peeled out as I yelled after him, “GET OUT OF HERE, ASSHOLE!”
His truck receding in the distance, Finn looked at me and said, “Wow, Daddy, you were swearing at him. Why did you swear at him?”
Pumped up on adrenaline, I had to calm myself down a little and explain to her what I’d seen and why I reacted the way I did. When we got home we set out some food and water for Hazel and the three of us had another discussion about perverts and why they do dumb shit like that and what to do when that happens (we’ve been talking to her about this kind of stuff for years).
When she sets up the lemonade stand, we realize that anything can happen, just like it can when she walks to school. The world is full of normal people and our neighborhood is like most others in the country. But it’s the one screwball that can really mess with one’s trust in society; I can almost see how 1/2 of the population would rather sit inside and listen to Fox News tell us how dangerous the world is every day instead of going out and making it better.
I’m glad I was there with her, and I’m glad the deep-rooted politeness I’ve been taught through the years was overtaken by full-on Dad mode as quickly as it did and with the conviction I felt. Part of me still can’t believe it actually happened.
Sunday afternoon I found a $20 router stand on Craigslist and spent an hour in the car picking it up. I’ve been using my router freehand since I got it, and have found a way to get the results I need without any mounting surface. But for the two threshold pieces I’m building for the bathroom, I need a stable base to work with and the new 60˚ bit I found is too big to use freehand. This stand is only worth about $20—it’s the basest of bases Black & Decker produced about 40 years ago. But within an hour I’d mounted the router to the stand and devised a way to get it to work with the wood I’ve got—I’m going to have to build a jig for it, which I’d have to do with a $300 router stand—but when it’s done I should be able to add a gentle beveled edge to the threshold that won’t stub a toe.