Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dog Run

“So,” my niece, Victoria asked me Friday night, “how does it feel to hit the Big Seven-O?”

The question nailed me right between the eyes—just like everything else Victoria says it to me.

She was calling from Colorado to wish me a happy birthday, but being Victoria, of course, she had to wrap it around a brick and hurl it straight at my fragile ego.

“No,” I shouted into the phone. “I’m 61—I’ve got a few years to go!”

Victoria has this gift for getting on my nerves. She’s been doing it for years and I sometimes wonder if she was genetically hot-wired in some secret government laboratory just to bust my prunes.

Even she noted that our relationship has always had this backhanded quality to it.

“It’s the same way with torturers and their victims,” I replied.

But seriously, people, no birthday would be complete without a harassing phone call from Victoria.

In addition to this familial abuse, my most wonderful sister took me to dinner and then to a production of Eugene O’Neil’s Long Day’s Journey into Night in downtown Brooklyn.

And on Memorial Day I’ll be having dinner with my sister and auntie, so except for the shockingly high age number, this year’s birthday is shaping up very nicely.

I put an extra effort into keeping out the negativity out of my head for 24 hours, a tough, but worthy goal. I even refrained from posting hostile political messages on Facebook, which is nearly impossible for me.

My Ears Hear a Symphony

As part of my recovery from my nasty fall in December, I take a 40-block walk around the neighborhood most mornings to build up my battered knees.

I always see dog owners letting their pets roam around a field in Shore Road Park, but on Thursday I spotted this one four-legged fellow that I can’t get out my mind.

He was a black and white mutt and as he charged by me I saw he had a chew toy in his mouth. Periodically he would drop it, run away, and then turn to get down low and stalk the thing as if it were his prey—which it kind of was.

I got a kick out of watching this guy making things happen. He wasn’t waiting for his owner to throw the toy for him. He was taking care of everything himself. I think there’s a lesson in there for me.

As I watched this happy fellow bouncing around, I thought of a song by Bob Dylan—with whom I share a birthday—called “If Dogs Run Free.”

Up until last week it was my least favorite track from the 1970 New Morning album, an LP I loved so much when I was a teenager that I played it every single day for months.

I always skipped over that particular tune, though, because I didn’t enjoy the scat, jazzy beat poetry thing that Dylan was going for in this song.

It actually made Rolling Stone’s top ten worst Bob Dylan songs list, but that pooch in the park last week brought it all together for me.

"If dogs run free," the song asks, "then why not we, across the swooping plain?"

Dylan goes on to tell us to “just do your thing, you'll be king” and that true love “can cure the soul, it can make it whole.”

Words to ponder as I march toward the Big Seven-O.


Jay said...

It's amazing the lessons dogs can teach us. I've learned so much from mine over the years. Lessons on loyalty, love and loss, patience, courage and refusal to be defeated etc, etc - everyone knows about those. But there's also the fact that dogs really do live in the moment. They're capable of such spontaneity and joy. It's easy to lose that, once we become adults, and I'm still working on getting a little of that back. Maybe I'll manage it by the time I hit the big seven-oh!

Ron said...

Happy Birthday, Rob! And got to see Jeremy Irons (who I adore) in Long Day's Journey Into Night!!! How wonderful! I googled it on You Tube and watched a short video clip of the play.

I'm 62, so I've got a year on you. Isn't something to think that we're in our 60's!?!? Funny though, because I still fill like I'm in my 30's!

Have a great time celebrating your birthday with you sister today!

Happy Memorial Day, buddy!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, thank you so much for the birthday wishes!

Yes, we saw Jeremy Irons and had a fabulous time. And you're so right: it really is something to think we're in our 60s. I like your approach though, with that 30s feeling.

Have a great day, buddy!

Rob K said...


What a brilliant observation about dogs! We can learn so much from dogs. They live in the moment and are not burdened by the terrible weight of regret or shame! And, by the way, I've learned a lot from you!

Take care!

Bijoux said...

Happy Birthday! I just hit the double nickel and I'd be pissed if someone told me I was close to 60! Lol!

Rob K said...

Hey, Bijoux, thank you so much! And Happy Birthday to you as well!

Gotta love that Double Nickel! Well, maybe not love, but it beats 60!

A Cuban In London said...

Happy birthday! :-) And you got to see Jeremy Irons. You, lucky bugger. :-)

Greetings from London.

Rob K said...

Thanks, Mario! I am indeed a lucky bugger!! :)