Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gentle Giant

Our Chaser was a perfect example of a Gentle Giant.

She had no clue how big she was. Leave a door ajar in the house? She'd sit there looking through the crack until someone opened it wider. Thunderstorm approaching? She'd (attempt to) curl up under the desk and wind her furry body around my feet. I don't think she ever realized that 70 of her 100 pounds never made it under the wood.

And she was so sweet with little kids. Never once did she growl or bite or lunge toward tiny hands reaching for her fuzzy ears or tail.

Our Gentle Giant.....

Title: Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bite (originally published October 2008)

Death by hide-a-bed.

I always figured there were a million other things that would lead to my demise. High cholesterol. A plane crash. Using the hair dryer in the bath tub while shaving my legs.

But never in my wildest dreams – or nightmares – did I imagine this moment. My legs sticking high in the air. My torso sinking into a giant chasm.

Time froze as I opened my mouth to scream and only managed to eke out a quiet, “Oh. Dear. God.”

It began as an innocent trip with my in-laws. A camper packed with four adults, one busy toddler, two large dogs and a brand new puppy. Do the math and you’ll discover that’s a whole lot of bodies to share one small space.

But we managed just fine. That is, until night came. The dark, dark night. When the moon rose slowly into the inky black sky to bathe the world below in an eerie glow of white…oh…whatever. It was dark, OK?

Chaser, our golden retriever, had already claimed her spot at the end of the tiny sofa bed on which my husband and I would be sleeping.

“Are you comfortable, Your Highness?” I mockingly said to her as I moved her golden tail out of the way and crawled between the sheets.

My husband, Jon, poked his head out of the bathroom, took one look at the 94 pounds of dog taking up the rest of the bed and simply said, “I don’t think so.”

As usual, I ignored him. “Where’s the television remote?” I asked, patting down the mattress around me. “It was just here a second ago.” I buried my hands under the covers and began searching the area around Chaser. Her low growl told me I was invading her space. I poked her in the rear just for fun.

“Better be quiet,” Jon warned as he walked in and pointed down to the sleeping baby snuggled in the playpen set up next to the table. “You’ll wake up Little Big Guy.”

I doubted it. Like his dad, it takes a sonic boom to get him moving once he falls asleep.

Jon stopped at the kitchen counter, deciding it offered a little more space to remove his contacts than the phone booth-sized space of the camper’s tiny bathroom.

He looked down at Chaser, who was suddenly faking a deep sleep. When he turned his back, I noticed one chocolate brown eye crack open.

Just because he’s blind without corrective lenses doesn’t mean my husband can’t see. Without turning around he ordered, “Move it.”

I muffled a laugh as Chaser slowly stood up and stretched. First her front legs, then her back. She yawned. Gave a shake that started at the tip of her black nose and ended with her tail. Sat on her haunches, lifted a back paw and scratched at her ear for a bit. She was stalling like an 8-year-old avoiding bed time.

“Come on, puppy,” I said softly and smoothed the covers next to me, “there’s plenty of room up here by me.”

And that, my friends, is what is called a tragic flaw in literary circles. An error of judgment, if you will, that leads to a person’s demise. The point of no return. Elvis has left the building. The Fat Lady is singing and it ain’t a pretty song.

As she made her way up the bed, Chaser’s bulky frame joined forces with my own dainty poundage (insert snort here) near the head of the bed and gravity took us the rest of the way.

The foot of the bed shot straight up in the air.

And not just a few inches off the floor. No way, baby. This sucker shot up a good five feet, sending me and the dog sliding down toward the rapidly widening crevice that formed at the head of the bed.

Then time stopped.

And that’s the sight Jon saw when he turned around. The black metal of the bed’s undercarriage as it sat high in the air, only the tips of my toes visible over the top edge of the mattress.

He peeked around to see me clutching Chaser tightly around her neck in a pathetic attempt to prevent her from being swallowed by the dark pit under the sofa. Or maybe I was just trying to save myself.

Jon quietly walked over, but before reaching the bed he pointed to the floor and said, “Hey, you found the remote. Cool.”

He picked it up and switched the channel to a college football game. Almost as an afterthought, he reached over and pushed the bed back down to earth. Our hero.

I looked at Chaser. She looked at me. Bonded forever by our near-death experience, she leaned over and gave me a big smooch with her floppy pink tongue.

And that’s when I pushed her off the bed and onto the floor.

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