Last night, in Dreamland, I addressed the Annual Meeting of the Arbuthnot Society, comprised of blank stares atop black suits, white shirts and red power ties. I pitched an idea which gained no traction: the notion I could string together sentences to form a story. I had five minutes to prove my point. So I recited my story of Sherlock in the elevator.
This morning, emerging from Dreamland, I took inventory: two hands, two feet, two cats, one dog, Chicago, May 24, 2020. Sherlock’s birthday…he would have been nineteen, almost unheard of in dog years. And unheard by Sherlock, for on January 14, 2010, Sherlock began his sleep with angels.
Sherlock was my first Seeing Eye dog. We took late afternoon walks in the old neighborhood, Sherlock off-harness and off-duty. He would pause in the open doorway of the Ravenswood Pub until that old rummy named Mickey tottered over with a biscuit. Only then would we continue ‘round the block.
A month after Sherlock died, I tapped my way to that doorway and peered, unseeing but seen, as a female voice, laced with sloe gin and cigarettes, called, “If ya wanna drink, ya gotta belly up to the bar.”
“Thanks…I’m just looking for Mickey.”
”Mickey isn’t with us anymore, sad to say.” That was all she said; her meaning was clear.
They tore down the Ravenswood Pub and put up a six-flat. My wife and I moved out of the old neighborhood and now I’m preparing to sell the house we called home for ten years. “Life is change,” sings Jefferson Airplane, “how it differs from the rocks.” In less than one year, I’ve lost my wife and my brother to cancer. And in less than one season, we’ve all been changed by the virus.
This morning, my inventory includes gratitude for times given, melodies of verses sung and smiles at memories held. I laugh out loud at the vision of that call-to-arms, up-the-organization Jefferson Airplane concert with Persian rugs and hookahs on stage at Beloit College on July 2, 1967, where high school buddy Scott and I wore polka dot shirts (his white on blue, mine blue on white) while Davey sported snow white stretch Levi’s, a poofy-sleeved shirt and a powder blue ascot. Three cool cats dressed for the revolution.
I raise my head from my pillow, pet the cats, pat the dog, put my feet on the floor and, with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye, greet the day.
“She Has Funny Cars” by Jefferson Airplane, from the album “Surrealistic Pillow”
“Good Shepherd” by Jefferson Airplane, from the album “Volunteers”
“3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds” by Jefferson Airplane, from the album “Bless Its Pointed Little Head”
“Water Song” by Hot Tuna, from the album “Burgers”