Saturday, May 3, 2008

Fetid Dog Love

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened around May, 1958. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

My last two months in Taipei were tinted with fear, as I heard more and more rumors of Mainland China's plan to either invade or bomb Taiwan. I've written about this already, out of sequence, in A Cacophonous Nudge. It was right about the same time as the solar eclipse in mid-April that my father told my Mother and I that we wouldn't be staying with him for much longer. The Army was shipping out large numbers of dependents to get them out of harm's way.

Our departure was set for the middle of May. I would miss the last couple of weeks of school. Ordinarily I wouldn't have minded, but the next thing I knew our class was having a spelling bee as part of a school-wide contest, and I won, and the teacher said I did so well I might easily win the whole contest. The 1st prize would be a pair of binoculars. Oh, man, I wanted those binoculars. Stupid Army Brat life, I thought. Every time something good comes along, you have to move away, I thought.

My Mother and I were booked on a great-circle flight to Seattle by way of Anchorage.

Up to this time in my life I was lukewarm toward the dog, Koko. He didn't particularly care one way or another about me either. But a funny thing happened when they said we couldn't afford to take him back to the States with us. All of the sudden I couldn't take it. It wasn't like they were going to put him down or sell him for meat. They arranged for the the magician and his wife to keep him. But I broke down into tears in front of them and hugged the dog and told my parents they were horrible, and I couldn't stand to lose him.

I didn't know at the time what came over me. Now I get it. Enough other over-reactions of that sort have happened since. I had experienced too much neglect and emotional abandonment from my parents. Their plan to abandon Koko recalled it all.

My Father made it up to me by buying me a pair of binoculars. He figured, better buy them in Taiwan at the low prices there, than pay two or three times as much back home.

The flight seemed to take days. The stop at the Anchorage airport was notable only in the fact that it was snowing in May.

My Mother and I wound up back in Seattle living in the garage behind my Grandmother's house again. We were there maybe one week at most when we got word that Koko would be arriving by freight plane at Boeing field in a couple of days. Having seen my emotional outburst over losing Koko, the magician and his wife decided to spend their own money to reunite us.

We were driven to the airport by one of my cousins. Koko was delivered in a box with holes for breathing. One whiff, and I began to regret I'd made such a scene back in Taipei. He reeked of his own feces and urine, not having been let out of the box for the whole trip. We took him home and did all the things people will recommend, baths with shampoo, baths of milk, baths of tomato juice. We shaved him completely, and tried it all over again. Nothing worked. That was one stinky dog. He lived more than 8 years after that and we never got rid of the smell.

Still, I thought of him more as a brother from then on. My parents hadn't succeeded in getting rid of him either.

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