I’ve got a house guest this week. She’s a four-legged, non-verbal, haimish redhead. She likes lazy Sundays, long walks on the beach, fishing, and retrieving projectiles. She may be named after a crusty old Bluegrass legend, but she is quite the lady. One of the best things about Monroe is how she shows her excitement. It’s a rather complicated, choreographed process, really, but it serves well in getting the message across.
She is like the superhero of hellos.
Step One: Whine.
It starts softly, with an eye twinkle. Maybe a cock of the head, a lazy tail flop. As the volume increases, the sound becomes more high-pitched, more….robust. The tempo varies. There is some tremolo action.
Step Two: Wag.
In time with her vocalizations, Monroe begins to wag her tail, casually at first, then more in earnest. Soon the tail is thrashing about, a flurry of fur, back and forth, back and forth, backandforthandbackandforth…until it seems to take on a life of its own, a life which is hell bent on moving to the left, and only the left, and so…
Step Three: Wiggle.
The wiggling begins. If the tail favors the left, so must the rump follow. Soon the whining, wagging, and wiggling morph into a sort of crab-like side winding. It is as if her back end is trying to take over for her front and lead the way. She constantly corrects herself though, so rather than shimmy around in endless circles, she ends up sidestepping forward, in full, tap-dancing convulsion.
Step Four: Grin.
Typically steps three and four begin simultaneously. Monroe is an astute observer, and knows that people often express their pleasure through smiling. And so she dutifully scrunches her nose, curls back her upper lip and bares a long row of teeth, perhaps momentarily forgetting how most other animals interpret this behavior.
Step Five: Sneeze, of course.
You know this convulsive frenzy reaches its climax when the sneezing begins. Something about the lip curl must agitate her nose, for as soon as you see teeth, you hear the first sneeze. These continue at a rate of about one sneeze per second, until she feels she has issued a sufficient good morning, good afternoon, good evening, or hey, look, it’s you again greeting.
And I have to say, at the end of that performance, I do feel pretty good about myself. Like, get-me-to-the-river-so-I-can-walk-on-some-water-all-hail-the-conquering-hero good. By comparison my head nod yo greeting is pretty weak, to say nothing of the incomprehensible groan that sounds like a lot like nooo with which I typically greet each dawn. (Or, okay, nine o’clock hour.) Even a genuine smile and solid hug seem weak next to Monroe’s rumpus parade of good cheer. So I intend to replicate it for loved ones in upcoming days and document the effects once all seizure/poisoning concerns are put to rest. Get ready to feel super special, yo.
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