My most faithful readers may recall my fascination with racquetballs: blue, bouncy, and perfectly sized for my hound dog jaw. Back in 2011, when I was still but a wee pup, I loved to chase them, carry them around, and, most of all, chew on them until they broke in two, and then chew the two parts until they broke up into little pieces that I could eat if there was nothing better around. At the time, I didn’t know the balls came from Charlie, years before he moved to Seattle and became my pal. Charlie sent me lots of those balls, and we used them all the time until Mike took them all away and replaced them with the nearly indestructible Visi-Balls that we’re still using today (and losing at a much lower rate!). Mike put the blue balls in a plastic bag and hid them in the closet until he finally gave some to Merrie and donated the rest to the Seattle Animal Shelter.
Even so, I must have had a premonition about the balls, since I wrote in 2011, “…it won’t be forever. I foresee more chasing of bouncy blue balls in my future, sooner or later.”
That day finally arrived. When Charlie came over for a walk last Sunday, he arrived with two of them, a blue one AND a black one, and he brought them both on our walk. When I chased the first blue ball and got it in my mouth, however, there was only one thing that could make me let go of it: the black ball. I tried to get both of them into my mouth at once, but I just couldn’t get them to fit. So while I couldn’t carry both, I made damn sure I wasn’t letting go of the one I had, not with Mike around. He hates the bouncy blue balls, which get wetter, slimier and muddier than the purple-and-white ones we usually fetch with. Most of all, Mike hates the whomping sound the ball makes when I hold it tightly between my teeth and gnaw on it. Which I do, like constantly.
On our hike last weekend, with me being reluctant to let the balls out of my grip to fetch, we did a lot of walking, me strutting along with the ball in my mouth, gnawing on it as I sucked in air. Mike remarked to Heather and Charlie that I was “Walking to ‘Gnaw-lins,’ ” mimicking the title of the 1960 Fats Domino hit “Walking to New Orleans,” or “Nawlins” in the local patois.
I’m not sure if Heather or Charlie made the connection. I know it flew right by me! Sometimes Mike just feels compelled to throw in some musical reference to remind people he’s a music Hall of Famer.
When we got home, Charlie went out to his car and came back with more of those racquet balls and a clear plastic cylinder to keep them in. I saw him leave them for me on top of the television cabinet, and the next day I parked myself in front of it and danced all over the living room, but Mike refused to put even one on the floor. By the next day the cache o balls had disappeared, although my nose tells me exactly where it is: in the back of the hall closet, high on a shelf above my Kong Wobbler. Out of sight, but not out of mind. I know Mike is going away next month, and I will make sure to let Heather and Charlie know where Mike hid them. I can see myself strutting to Gnawlins again soon.