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Part 1: CRYING OVER SPILT WINE

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Crying Over Spilt Wine...

Whoever said dogs are just furry people was dead wrong.

You need a total lack of inhibition to squat and take a pee in the middle of the sidewalk. And sniffing someone's rear end in friendly greeting is an act of absolute honesty and trust.

People aren't like that.

And there's something so innocent about the unconditional devotion of a living creature that launches itself at you like a hairy missile, regardless of your looks, your job, your ambition and your finances.

Trouble is, I used to hate dogs. I'll admit it up front. Big slobbery dogs, miniature runts, pedigrees, handbag-sized rodents. It didn't matter.

During my innocent childhood I was traumatized by Brandy, a ginger haired chow-chow resembling an oversized teddy-bear, who presided over the next-door neighbour's doorstep. Out of the blue one day he took a run at me and decided to taste a piece of my left buttock. Then two weeks later, while petting my Auntie's cocker spaniel on the head, his canines suddenly clamped around my wrist like a pair of enamel handcuffs. I was off dogs for good after that.

The rest of my adolescence and early adulthood was punctuated by various dog attacks; a random ambush by a black Labrador, while delivering charity flyers, ended my philanthropic career, a small Bichon with a liking for LuluLemon sweats terminated my training for the Vancouver marathon, and an annoying greyhound with a wet nose killed any hope of romance with his muscle-bound owner; suspicions about personal hygiene are close to the surface when someone's dog has its nose implanted in your crotch. But dogs love me – they won't leave me alone and the more I give them the cold shoulder, the more they come back with wagging tails, goo-goo eyes and hot doggy breath.

So – anyway - I was thirty two and happily living the average single life. On the surface, everything seemed to be chugging along nicely; I had a nice one bedroom condo off Granville Street, a great job designing interiors for the exploding Vancouver condo market, and a one year old titanium grey SUV with satellite radio and endless Sinatra on tap.

But a dark and empty void now existed in the part of my life where a sexy, fulfilling relationship should be. My bedroom screamed obsessive, virginal neat freak with its powder pink walls, white lacquer cabinetry and fuchsia satin pillows - so much for asking Jake, our senior designer, to do a makeover.

After Brad and I broke up, I purged the whole apartment. How could I possibly have known Jake was in his Retro Fifties Glam phase? When he led me in – blindfolded – for the grand reveal, my eyes ached from the excess pinkness of every surface, and the sheer number of Marilyn portraits in black and white, in orangey sepia tones, pink with fuchsia highlights or multicolor a la Andy Warhol. Her kittenish eyes followed me all around the room, daring me to be even one millionth as sexy as she was in her billowing white halter dress.

My standoff with the Marilyns came to a head after a lonely night in front of my new fifty-six inch smart TV. I polished a bottle of cheap Merlot while watching The Notebook for the eighth time, then found myself poised with black Sharpie in hand, in front of the three-part Marilyn portrait Jake had artfully positioned above my dining room table. I had a vague memory of screaming that she too had been a failure in the man department and what's more, bleach had turned her hair into a nest of faded straw. Next morning I woke up with ink-covered hands and on the way to the kitchen, skidded to a halt at the sight of three Marilyns all with large black moustaches, black-rimmed glasses and bushy eyebrows. Not a flattering look for her – even in her Arthur Miller phase.

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