Late for Dinner

Dearest Rachel –

“You can call me anything you want; just don’t call me late for dinner!”

It was probably one of the first jokes I was ever told by my grandfather as a little kid, and one that I never really got at that age (“what kind of name is Late For Dinner, and yeah, that’s a horrible name to be called, but have you heard the names they’ve been calling me on the playground, Bapoo?” Yeah, I was being called names at that age and all. But I was a pretty thin-skinned kid. To say nothing of being a little… well-rounded for my age). It took waaay too long for me to figure out the difference between being called – as in being summoned – and being called a name.

Of course, I was not familiar with the consequences of showing up late for dinner like generations previously – like, not getting to eat. After all, that was how I got to be such a well-rounded individual back then.

But the story isn’t about me. I mean, it’s told from my perspective, because that’s the only one that I have. But – and you should be able to tell from the tags – this is about the dog.

It basically started when I was on my way home from the “office.” Did a little grocery shopping on my way before calling Daniel to let him know where I was, and that I’d be home soon. I mentioned that he’d asked about Chick-fil-A for dinner yesterday, and, since I had just walked home, I was in no state to go out and pick anything up that evening, so we just did some freezer diving, but today was different, and I was willing to cash in his rain check, if he still wanted it. After a moment or two of confusion – he was expecting that we would be invited over for dinner at the folks’ place, and I had to explain that this particular Thursday, Dad was attending the church board meeting (the first one in person since the pandemic began, and the first one he’s be able to attend – I think – since falling ill two and a half years ago), so that wasn’t happening this week – he was happy to agree to what was, in essence, his own plans from the previous night.

To be sure, I had to stop at home regardless, as I had picked up a few things that needed to go into either refrigerator or the freezer, so I did that before heading out to the restaurant. He mentioned that the old boy had been fairly little trouble – in fact, he was still out in the backyard, where he had been for quite some time without getting upset and barking. Just sitting out there under the swingset (which I think is the lowest point in our backyard, so he just follow the path of least resistance and settled in).

The drive to Chick-fil-A was more or less uneventful; I mean, there was the usual traffic on Golf Road, accompanied by certain lanes being blocked off by traffic cones here and there. It’s construction season: that’s just a fact of life around here. I got home and unpacked everything, and it seems they gave me an extra box of nuggets.

And with that, you’ll forgive me if I go into something of a long aside. You instilled in me – in us – the habit of checking the bag for any errors before driving off after receiving our takeout order. I think it harks back to that one time when I was craving Zippy’s onion rings, and you and I went to order a meal there. Everything went smoothly, they handed us our bag, we just took it and drove off… and when we got home, everything was there except the onion rings. You were so disappointed for me that you insisted I drive back there and get what I asked for – what I had craved, that brought us in the door in the first place. Meanwhile, I didn’t think it was worth the effort, and in any case, I didn’t want to make a scene. But you were insistent; you told me that you would go with me, and you would do all the talking. And you did. You were polite about it, presenting the receipt and all, at which point they apologized and got my onion rings for me. But ever since then, you made a point of looking through the bag before I pulled away, rather than have me go back like that again.

I want to point out that this is easier done when someone is sitting in the passenger seat with me, and is willing to rummage through the bag before I pull away. I can’t do that while I’m driving, so whatever mistakes are made, are made.

Anyway, this was a mistake in our favor – my favor (Daniel’s order was fine). I wonder if, at this point, the mistakes that have been made in our favor cancel out the ones where our order wasn’t quite complete over the long run. As you can see, I haven’t changed much; I still don’t like making a scene.

So when I got home, and distributed everything. Daniel had already brought Chompers back in, and the old boy was sleeping under the dining room table. While it was getting on toward six o’clock, when we would ordinarily feed him, we follow the rule about sleeping dogs, and left him to his slumber. We ate, we watched a few videos, and after a particularly dull history one, I felt myself falling asleep, so I let it run out as I stretch myself out in the recliner and allowed the Sandman to overtake me.

And here’s where things get a little incredible. Normally, Chompers wakes us up with one need or another. In this case, the legitimate need for dinner at his usual time. But no; I woke up at 10:30 realizing that I hadn’t fed him yet, and noticing that he was still asleep.

That time outside must’ve really taken it out of him.

I put together his evening meal, as per usual. However, since this was the time that I would usually give him his gabapentin wrapped in one of his treats, I simply added the pill to the top of his dinner bowl, which he gulped down with everything else. I then took him out front like I usually do at night, and brought him to the bedroom, giving him all of his usual night treats, along with one extra for the one that didn’t get wrapped around the gabapentin tonight.

I didn’t really expect him to settle down right away, and while he did for maybe fifteen, twenty minutes, he didn’t disappoint. After a fair amount of shuffling himself around, he just started whimpering. To be fair, he settled a little bit after I presented him with his water bowl, but after that, I figured he’d need to go outside one more time and get rid of everything. Which he did, and then some. So there’s that.

And now, he’s quieted down on the other side of our bed, while I write this to you. I don’t know if this is another sign of his decline; I wouldn’t be surprised. Once again, I will point out that he ate everything pretty heartily, once he realized that he still had something in his bowl. But yeah, he doesn’t have as much together as he used to. I don’t know if that means it’s time, or if it’s just one more step along that way. Wish you were here to guide me on this.

Well, actually, I just wish you were here.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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