Morning Dog Walk in Paris
Part of the Paris Time Stories in progress
By Matt Carlson
Olaf, a mix breed of Scottish terrier and King Charles stood 70 centimetres tall on his four brown paws, while pulling on his leash. His owners Chloe and Albert were taking him out on his morning walk in the light rain; at this precise moment they were at the corner of Arago Boulevard and Cordeliers in the 13th quarter in Paris. He could see the two little white Jack Russells coming towards them and strained to get to them faster.
“Good morning”, they said to the trio arriving at the same tree: one of many ‘pee-pee tree-areas’ aligned in a row along this section of the street. Foebbe (after Phoebbe Bouffay from the TV series Friends) and Fender (after the famous guitar) were accompanied by their ‘two- footer’ Elledge, a recently arrived American.
“Good morning”, was the reply. The 3 dogs sniffed in constant motion, trying to get the best nose to butt-hole position. Those butts had a lot of interesting information.
Chloe and Albert were retired flight attendants from Air France, had travelled extensively and loved America and Japan.
“We love Los Angeles”, they said practically in unison. Chloe continued, “For thirty years we flew back and forth, especially LA, we just love it. Monica Beach, Newport”… She fluffed her blond bangs with her manicured fingertips, eyes reflecting genuine kindness and curiosity.
Albert continued, “We’d move there if we could, people are so much nicer. In ’83 we did the marathon in New York: people were cheering us on it was wonderful. Here, we did one and people were like: ‘what are you doing that for?'”
They guffawed while looking at each other, smiling at the memory.
Elledge had a hard time imagining them even walking fast as they were quite hefty, especially Albert who seemed to be battling to keep his tummy inside a stained t-shirt. Chloe was nicely dressed, but there was something mysteriously undone about her. Elledge quickly dismissed the thought – it wasn’t the time to analyse.
She continued, “We love Japan too. We went there all the time; I even studied the language”.
Elledge was only half awake. The cat, Ninja from the apartment had awakened him and the dogs early in the morning. What had it been doing exactly he didn’t know (a lot of strange noises from clawing inside her cat box to knocking things over) but certainly it had been trying to awaken everyone in order to get fed and be tended to.
“Thats nice”, he said. “I’ve never been to Japan”.
The conversation carried on as Foebbe and Fender did their business while Elledge (already an expert in the art of picking up dog-doo) quickly rolled excrement into a small plastic sandwich bag and dropped it into a nearby trash container.
The conversation would have lasted longer, but the two Jacks sought to be picked up and held, a sign that that they were cold.
It all ended up with more smiles and tugged leases, mostly for Olaf who wanted to stay with his new friends. Chloe too, though she said nothing about it longed for adventure, anything that would take her out of a monotonous life; she would have preferred to keep chatting with the stranger from the states. Thats why she had loved being a stewardess: one was always moving around and meeting new people, doing new things, visiting new countries. Today her life was at a standstill.
Moving off in opposite directions, it had been a typical dog walking moment in Paris, or any where for that matter. Dogs were that safe space and commonality that allowed total strangers to speak to one another, to break the ice. Chloe hoped that they would meet up again as did Albert – the chances were good as they all lived in the same neighbourhood.
Chloe’s life nowadays revolved around going shopping for groceries, doctors appointments, walking the dog three times a day and of course, taking care of Albert, her husband who was becoming needier all the time. She loved him and doing repetitive chores was no big deal, but there had to be something else in her life. Before everything rotated around work schedules, flights to exciting countries (even though most of the time she only passed through maybe even just for the weekend), sometimes that was enough: a whiff of a new culture, a different language, that unknown something that added spice to your life. She had never known what that element was per se; she had never allowed herself to think about those things very much. It was easier to accept the status quo in life, follow the flow. She just knew that she needed change, regular change.
“I want to stop at the pharmacy my allergies are acting up again – it must be the chestnut trees in bloom”. Albert said and sneezed inadvertently adding to his case. Chloe bent down with a doubled Kleenex and swiftly confiscated Olafs newly born stool lying there on the sidewalk. The dog excitedly back peddled his back legs as if on a skateboard, happy to be rid of last nights digested pâté with rice. Albert and Chloe laughed lightly at the sight shaking their heads – humans never did that after a good bowel movement. Maybe it was worth a try.
The light drizzle suddenly became a hard rain as they hurriedly reached the Argo Pharmacy on Arago Boulevard; Albert, always the gentleman quickly opened the door for his wife and Olaf. Chloe was thinking she wished she’d brought her umbrella for the occasion as she pulled a hanky out of her purse and did a quick look over of face & make up in the pharmacys mirror. No damage done, but then who was looking? While her husband chatted with the pharmacist (a common friend) she looked over the new organic section of products. Maybe there was an answer here, perhaps she could get back into shape and lose weight. It certainly couldnt do any harm! She’d never been one to do diets or dieting. Once she had put on weight, she had accepted it. Her husband was the first to get fat and in time she began sharing his newly found couch-potato antics with Pringles, salted nuts, sodas (to sweeten up a salted throat) special sauces with increasing amounts of meat, breads, pastas, finishing up with ice cream and patisseries. And she did love her vanilla ice cream with strawberries for dessert. Every night.
It had all been so easy, letting the walls of healthy eating habits fall down to the ground, so to speak, and with that Pandoras box of eating freefall, a new inner tube of fat had surrounded her waist, her thighs, adding to her already round buttocks. Even her feet seemed to have put on weight.