ESSAY ON THE HAPPINESS OF A DOG
It was Tuesday, I think. About half past one in the afternoon. It had been two (unnecessary) hours since the call started and my back was starting to fuck me up. In the street, a “se cooompran colchooones...” truck was threatening to creep into my boring talk about KPIs and investments, so I decided to mute my microphone and lay down on the couch for a moment.
Let them do whatever they want, I thought. As I felt I was in a space that was not mine, Coco interrupted her nap and got up lazily to give me a few indifferent sniffs, as if to say what the hell, what are you doing here.
I scratched her head and was about to go for her ball when something caught my eye. Right in the place where until a few seconds ago I had been lying: a stain. A fucking spot. Shit, you peed on the mat again. I got up not for her ball, but for a rag soaked with floor cleaner. I brushed and dried with fervor. As if the spirit (and hysteria) of a old lady had taken over my body and the only possible exorcism was to leave my mat free of piss. Immaculate.
It must have been five minutes. Maybe ten. When there, on the floor and amidst notes of synthetic lavender, an eerie silence began to fill me with anguish. Shit. The call was over. Had anyone noticed my absence? No way.
I’ll check the meeting summary. I got up. I took the rag to the kitchen and seeing that I was officially on my lunch break, I decided to quickly go to the ATM. Before another remote meeting forced me to nail my buttocks to the dining room chair for another two hours.
With sunglasses, headphones and a good dose of paranoia as accessories, I set out to make the quickest ATM visit ever. I crossed seven streets, two sidewalks and a roundabout. All without pausing. Without getting closer than 10 feet to anyone. And when I saw someone coming towards me, I got off the sidewalk. To hell with it. In this day and age, one would rather die run over in the street than die of coronavirus in a hospital. FUCK IT. With all capital letters. Two blocks before reaching the ATM, the old iron truck was taking away a refrigerator. Its former owner was sending it away with a nostalgic look on her face as she scolded what I guess was her husband. If my beans are spoil you will see. I told you it was already failing.
The husband gave me a nervous chuckle. Shit, I thought. It takes a lot of bad luck to have your fridge break down in the middle of quarantine. When I got to the ATM there were two women in line. Mmta madre. I lined up. But not lined up. I mean, I was in line, but between me and the lady in front of me, there was room for at least 4 people. No way. I preferred someone to skip in line than get the virus. The virus AND DEATH. The sun was blazing. There I am, walking in a hurry, all to get here. Finally the second lady passes by and when she is at the ATM her phone rings. Her phone rings and she answers! No mame, ma’am. After mentioning something about some milanesas, she hangs up and gets ready to go on with her transaction. Or so I would like to think. Because the lady stares at the screen for several seconds. Just like that, without doing anything. As if from one moment to the next the message would appear: WE DID A SEARCH AND IT TURNS OUT YOU DO HAVE MORE MONEY. OUR APOLOGIES
Mmta madre. The milanesas lady finally comes out of the ATM. Before going in, I fill my lungs with air and hold my breath as long as I can. I don’t want to. Two minutes later I’m outside. On my way back, neither the old iron van nor the man with the nervous chuckle are there. Karin Park is playing in my headphones when I see a girl with a mask walking her dog on the sidewalk. Stop, Ramsey, she says impatiently. But Ramsey doesn’t look at her. He just lifts his paw and drops a few drops of pee on a tree. On a tree and not on a mat, Coco.
I open the door and Coco greets me ecstatically. It seems as if she hasn’t seen me for hours. Her tail is wagging non-stop. As if propelled by a spring. Between jumps and scratches she escorts me to the bathroom. I wash my hands for the umpteenth time that day. And it is here that I am struck by the following thought: I have not seen my dog so happy since the beginning of the confinement. I mean, I don’t doubt that she loves the fact that I’m locked up with her. But somehow, I think she’s more driven to finally have me home than to have me home. Even if for that, I have to get lost for a while. A trip to the ATM, at least. I don’t deny it, the idea seems a bit absurd to me. But also, terribly logical. Ironic, yes, and even a bit cruel. But even more: it seems human to me. A chillingly human notion. After all, we too had to lose our freedom to value our routine. To miss it all. A day at the office. A trip to the movies. A hug.
Or a dog’s happiness has very human chords.
Or ours has a very animal soul.