When Charlie wants to go for a walk he sits close by and does a whiny sort of a noise. It’s not a bark, but he knows what he wants and he wants it twice a day. Just after breakfast, and just before supper. It also happens to be when all his friends are out for a walk as well.
It happened again this afternoon. I was sitting at the computer, tapping away when he sat down beside me. “Okay,” I said. “In a minute. I just have to finish this thought.” About three thoughts later, he became more persistent. He started scratching my leg, so I hit control-s, put on my boots, coat, and hat, grabbed his leash and out the door we went.
When we got to the hydro pole at the mouth of the driveway, he stopped and lifted his leg. He was looking straight at me when he asked: “what was that all about, finishing a thought?”
“Oh,” I said, “I was in the middle of writing something, and I wanted to get it down before I stood up. Now why don’t you stand up properly and let’s get going.”
“Huh,” he said. “Now we know where I sit in your pecking order. What were you writing it for? That Facebook thing?”
“No. It’s something for the writers’ club. It’s a little reflection on why I write. I might even post it to my blog”
“Huh,” he said. “I could tell you why. If you want to hear it, that is.”
Oh Jeez, I thought. What’s coming next? “OK,” I said, “I’ll give it a shot. Tell me.”
Charlie stopped on the sidewalk, sat down, tilted his head and looked at me. He does this when he’s thinking. “It’s all about buckets,” he said at last.
Oh Jeez, I thought, I should have known better. I tugged on his leash. “Let’s go,” I said. Charlie planted his feet into a snow bank and refused to move .
“Wait a minute,” he said. “You write because you can’t sing. I’ve heard you. You can’t carry a tune in a bucket.” Oh Jeez, I thought, this is on the edge of becoming nasty. “And not only that,” he continued, “You’re no artist. You couldn’t draw water if I gave you a bucket.” Oh Jeez, I thought, this just slipped over the edge.
I pulled on his leash again. “Let’s go,” I said. “If you’re going to talk like that, we might as well keep walking.”
Charlie drifted back into his private world of sniffing posts and plants and patches of snow and I drifted into my private world of ignoring posts and plants and patches of snow. You know, I said to myself, he might be right.
I have been writing one thing or another since my high school days. That was when I had a teacher who always said encouraging things about my essays. It wasn’t always what I wrote so much as how I wrote. I was encouraged to keep doing it, and I did. As I think back on it, my writing has had a common purpose. To convince people to adopt a particular point of view. That would be my point of view. So if I want to give them an idea of it, I can’t draw them a picture, or sing a song. I have to set down words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs.
We reached the end of the block and were waiting for a car to go through the intersection when I looked down and apologized to Charlie. “Sorry for getting snippy,” I said and told him what I’d been thinking.
“That’s nice,” he said. “How did it work out? How many people did you convince with all those columns over all those years?”
We had crossed the street and were walking along the edge of the park. “I don’t know,” I said. “Probably not very many. The ones who already agreed with me continued to do so. Those who disagreed also continued to do so. The ones in the middle stayed there.”
“Why can’t you take a hint, then,” said Charlie. “Why not write something that will make a difference?”
I gave his leash an extra sharp tug. “Maybe I will,” I said. “Maybe I’ll write a book about the dog who talked too much.”
Charlie stopped suddenly and looked across the street at a ginger cat. He started barking.