b Papa Dog's Blog: Profiles in Vagrancy/Babytalking

Papa Dog's Blog

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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Profiles in Vagrancy/Babytalking

Then there was the time Magnus and I woke up at a rest stop just on the Arizona side of the AZ-NM border, had some breakfast, spent our last dime tanking up the car, and headed off into New Mexico with no real idea where we were going or how we’d scrape together money for gas to get any farther. Summer of ‘92, it was. Magnus thought maybe he knew somebody in Santa Fe, but it sounded kind of iffy and his more tenuous leads had a way of not panning out (as I was later quite chagrined to discover in Oklahoma). I couldn’t think of anybody I’d ever known in New Mexico, but a ransacked brain cells long dormant in cold storage and managed to dredge up an uncertain memory. We stopped at a payphone – people used payphones back then – and I called the Less Satisfactory Wife collect back in Oakland. Les satisfactory as she was, I have to admit she was usually understanding about things like that. “Am I remembering right,” I asked, “that ‘Julia’ moved to Albuquerque?” “Julia” was the LSW’s friend from high school, whom I had met exactly once, at our wedding six years earlier. “Yes,” said the LSW. “Great,” said I. “Could you call her and tell her we’ll be there in a couple of hours and need a place to stay?”

A little further down the road we stopped again and I called the LSW back. To my surprise, not only had she called “Julia,” but “Julia” had agreed to let us crash at her house for three nights, which should be more than sufficient to get us back on our feet again. The LSW gave us “Julia’s” phone number and told us she worked at the Holiday Inn. She’d be off shortly after we arrived in town.

“Julia” and her husband, “Rich,” lived in a two-bedroom apartment with their four-year-old son. Their neighbours were crackheads and their work friends were morons. Since they’d been in town they’d had nobody to talk with but children and idiots. In an unbelievably lucky happenstance, not only were they annoyed to have a couple of strangers drop in on them to freeload, they were thrilled. We were a lifeline for them to the civilised world…people who could talk about books! They fed us til we burst and our time sacked out in their living room stretched out to a week. Our arrival was actually lucky for them in another respect…their car chose that week to crap out and if it hadn’t been for Magnus’ chariot they wouldn’t have had a way to get to work.

I was thinking about “Julia” and “Rich” this morning probably because I was babytalking to the Li’l Puppy. I could see how easy it would be to lose contact with the adult world. I mean, I go to a job and have contact with grownups all the time – but just a few hours a day of “You have toes! Yes you do, there they are! There are your toes! Daddy’s got your toes!” and you find yourself thinking that way under pretty much any circumstances. “Here’s your report! It’s all typed! Yes it is! Papa Dog’s got it here! Do you want your report? Let me see a smile!” It’s probably a good thing that we maintain a veneer of social life. It would be a disservice to Baby Dog to let her parents devolve into babbling idiots all the time.


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