People have been asking what it’s like to face a possible death situation. Well, when you know it’s coming, you have to deal with it. We all die sometimes. What is terrifying is to be in one suddenly, without expecting it.
Some years ago my partner Jerry and I were invited to a small private party in McLean VA (we were visiting DC at the time), and ran into the host in a gay bar. He made jewelry for a living (very bizarre stuff) and called himself “Mad Dog” (which proved providential). The party was for the next evening. We took a very expensive cab ride there.
His house could have been used as a substitute for the Bates home in “Psycho” It was an old wooden clapboard, two stories high, isolated on a little rise, spooky to loot at. Our host met us as the door, naked except for an apron (he’d been cooking for the party---I hasten add this party was not sexual in nature, Mad Dog was just strange). He then introduced us to his rather large Doberman Pinschers: one was a gigantic bitch and the other her somewhat smaller son (still of intimidating size). I am an animal lover, but with strange pets I’ve learned to let them come to me. Not Jerry, who was immediately petting them and bonding. The dogs did cozy up to me after awhile, and I showed them I knew how to pet a dog so he doesn’t want it to stop.
Other guests arrived, and the party then moved to the basement, which was finished and large and, as it happened, a great place for a party. The stout basement door was carefully closed to keep the dogs upstairs.
The party went on for hours, and eventually I was worn out. I asked Mad Dog if there was some place I could lie down, and he said, with enthusiasm, “Oh, there’s a waterbed in the Master Bedroom! You’ll love it!” In the days when I was married, my wife and I had had a waterbed, so it sounded good to me. We made our way to the first floor, and then climbed steps to the second. The door to the bedroom was half open, and when he stepped into the room, Mad Dog saw that both dogs were on the bed, and as he yelled at them, they jumped off and tried to look innocent of any rule violation.
With gratitude, I climbed on to the bed, feeling it bounce under me, and Mad Dog said the party would be over soon and he’d send Jerry to me. He left, and I was alone with the dogs.
He hadn’t been gone two minutes when I realized the dogs had taken up positions, one of each side of the bed, both were making very strange low guttural noises while staring at me with intense concentration.
It terrified me. If those dogs attacked, no one two stories below would hear me no matter whether I yelled or screamed or just died noisily.
For a few scary moments I just listened to their keening, numb with terror, and then I started thinking. The dogs knew who I was and that their master was my friend. They couldn’t be in the habit of attacking visitors, or he wouldn’t have casually left them with me. What could be going on in their canine brains?
Then the obvious answer hit me. I smiled, patted the bed, and said, “OK, come on up.” With great relief (on all our parts) they leaped in the bed and snuggled up to me, happy as puppies.
But I am here to tell you that you cannot sleep with two large dogs on a waterbed. The male started licking himself, which set the bed whirling. Then the female decided to change position with equal results. The slightest movement banished any thought of rest or sleep.
So I climbed from the bed, bid the dogs good night, went to the basement, collected Jerry and got a cab home.
Mad Dog sent me a handsome bracelet, for which I returned my thanks. But I can still get goose bumps when I think of the moment when I thought I was about to become dog meat.
“Bears,” February 23, 2010
“Recidivist: A Criminal Who Does It Again,” September 10, 2010
“Mary Beth and the Gay Teddy Bear,” September 25, 2010
“The Day Jerry Left,” October 30, 2010
"Parakeets and Me," February 5, 2010
"Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad," May 19, 2010
"Milking Cows," June 8, 2010
"Teaching English to Cats," August 6, 2010
"The Purring Heart," November 23, 2010
"The Dogs In My Life," April 18, 2011
"My Parents and Dummy," May 13, 2011
"Two Cat Stories: Mama and Barney in the Wild," July 9, 2011
“Snowbirding, My iPhone 5, and the Coming Crazy Cat Trip,” December 5, 2012
"Barney Cat and the Big Mammal Nightmare," January 7, 2013
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013