Eight months have now stumbled past since Sammy came to be a provisional part of our family, then a probable member of our family, and finally a non-adjectivized fixture on the leather couch in the ‘Red Room’, where family and friends occasionally assemble themselves among the recumbent canines to watch football games and re-runs of 24.
The Samsters has become a remarkably self-confident creature. He is possessed of that well-honed indifference to norms that characterizes self-assured creatures on both sides of the human-nonhuman perforation that helps reassure those of us who read blogs and, for that matter, read anything that we still cling to our position at the top of the biological heap.
Sammy doesn’t care very much what people think. Don’t misunderstand, the Samsters loves people. He can think of hardly anything better than being adored by a pile of them while jostling among a knot of humans that happens to descend on our home for an evening. He seems to know that he makes us better, a service he renders nobly and without pathetic claims that its sublimity be recognized verbally or be commented upon on the drive home.
Yet Sammy’s ways are not determined by convention. Take night-time, for example. The rest of us have more or less come to an agreement that, the sun down and the lights out, night-time makes a splendid moment for all but the most feral activities to cease. Indeed we feign death, or at least hibernation, until sunlight or someone’s infernal alarm clock or a pronounced sense of duty rouses us and makes us do horrible things to ourselves like shaving or going to work.
Sammy is not impressed by any of this.
Enter Lucas, a friend of our sons from Costa Rica days, who arguably lives with us. Let it be clear, lest taxes come due or insurance companies feel obliged to call, that is not entirely obvious whether Lucas does indeed live at this address. No agreement has been struck, no money has changed hands, indeed the matter is by unspoken consensus not discussed at any given time or, for that matter, any time at all.
Yet at some hour of darkness on most nights of the week, it can be presumed that Lucas is asleep in what is ostensibly son Christopher’s bed, son Christopher being off at college and not in need of a mattress in these parts. It is also beyond discussion that Lucas’ laundry with a certain, relaxed regularity finds its way in and out of our washer and drier. In fact, the twenty-something man himself can with desultory predictability be discovered hunched over his computer at our kitchen table allegedly registering his existence with unnamed denizens of the outside world. When drawn into conversation, he is capable of astonishingly informed comment upon any number of topics about which he has no right to know anything at all.
All parties are happy with this arrangement, not that kind of happiness that is comprised of delirious expressions of glee but rather with that contented resignation that finds in such details a measure of testimony to how things should be.
Lucas commented this morning that he may have some insight into ‘why Sammy sleeps so much during the day’, this being a matter of pondering for my good wife—and, it seems, for our quasi-resident Lucas—in recent weeks.
‘I’m often here in the early hours of the morning’, Lucas reports. ‘Here’ with a sweep of the hand indicates his kitchen-table establishment, with its wide view of our Indiana backyard. ‘Sammy pretty much just wanders around out there for hours’, he continues. ‘He sort of stands there looking out into those trees. When I come back fifteen minutes later, he’s still standing there just kind of staring’.
Now ‘looking’ and ‘staring’ are not transparent terms for a dog whose eyes have been darkened by untreated cataracts and then surgically removed. But Lucas’ point is well taken: Sammy has not signed on to the notions of daytime and nightime that roughly bifurcate the lives of the rest of us.
My own repose of late been interrupted not infrequently by casual little barks from the backyard at odd hours.
This would be Sammy, of course, sounding off to whomever might hear, registering his modest objection to the day-night plan that seems to control us, reminding us that he was not consulted and cannot be presumed to agree.