You choose. Which beginning to your day would please you most?
Rosy fingered dawn illuminates your quietly snozzling, comforter-ed self. Eight quiet hours (no bathroom disruptions) after your eyes closed, they open lazily. It’s 9 am. You’ve no place you have to be. Everyone’s left the house already, without so much as a sound. The day stretches obligation-less ahead. In the distance, Bach is tootling softly, conjuring images of well behaved but eager satyrs and charmingly shy but desirous nymphs gamboling in the yard out back. The book you were enjoying when you dropped off is ready to hand, so you fluff the pillow and take up the volume, your morning’s activity plan well begun.
I hope that’s how it is for you.
Or, the giant dog breathes heavily in your face. It is barely six hours since you took to your bed, and your bladder has had its way with you, trimming the six to maybe five. Your eyes open inches from the Niagara-like cascade of drool that descends from Diesel’s flopping jowls (called fweys in our family). He wants (no, demands) out. You say, Moll, Diesel wants to go out. No answer. It’s pouring, and it’s deafening, plus the wind is screaming, and the lights are flickering. Sigh. Heave. Diesel steps on your bare toes in his 180-pound enthusiasm for the great outdoors. You slide the door open. Gusts of wind-driven rain greet you and Dees. You are dumbstruck. Diesel blinks and stares out but won’t go. Finally, sufficient synapses close so that you move to slide the door closed. Diesel pokes his head between door and jamb. You widen the opening. He stares some more but does not advance. The rain is now puddling on the floor. You move behind the hairy, slobbering behemoth and shove. He collapses like a telescope. How can he do that at his size? It’s time to wake the kids. It’s time to make the lunch. Diesel decides he’ll begin his day later and resumes immediately his snoring, stretched out, dreaming, drooling rest upon the sofa. You advance on the children’s rooms. Rise and shine, you say. Get out, they say. You find your way to the kitchen. Yesterday, you thought you’d make a prosciutto, mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil sandwich, a sandwich that would not attract the sort of scorn from their peers that the children have told you they must endure when their lunches are unpacked at school. We can’t even trade your lunches dad, they say, no one will take them. This morning, you think, the hell with all that. Peanut butter and jelly it is. Get up Al, you holler. Stop it, she replies. Get up Critch, you scream. Don’t you ever do that again, he answers. It’s nearly 6:30. They’ve got to make the 7. Critch is in the kitchen. Al has not descended, and her CD player is turned up so loud that the paint is peeling off the walls. You pull foul weather gear over your PJs and head for the car. Got to leave at 6:30, and it’s 6:29. You start to blow the horn. Suddenly, the pent up inner man finds his own melody. You honk and honk and honk. You try the panic button. The children, faces grimly hostile, clamber into the car. You, a broad smile on your face for the first time this morning, move the gear shift to drive. Morning children, you say.
More or less, that’s morning for me. We have no neighbors, except in summer, so I never gave a thought to the 6:30 horn medley, but it turns out my inner man’s escape has had a neighborhood-wide effect. Moll ran into Sheila Muldaur the other day. Sheila lives not so far away to the east of our house. The intervening distance is a hodgepodge of marsh, brambles and tortured scrub oak, about none of which am I enthusiastic. And, it turns out, I’m right. This characteristic Vineyard vegetation is not even useful for veiling the occasional inner man’s breakout. Sheila is very pleasant, but also sleuth-like in her amiable way. Does Doug ever blow the horn in the morning to hurry the kids out of the house and into the car on the way to the 7 am boat, she asked Moll. Moll, staggered, replied truthfully. (She always tells the truth.) He does, she said, has he disturbed you? Well, yeah, says Sheila sweetly, I’ve heard it and some of our neighbors have too, we wondered what was going on.
Which leads me to the point of all this, and that is, first, thanks to Sheila for alerting me to the misery I have caused, and second, I apologize to her and to all those friends and neighbors who’ve had to listen to my stirring music-making when perhaps they were experiencing another sort of morning, on which they had no reason to be stirred. I have forsaken the horn. From now on it is the cattle prod for me. I don’t think screams carry the way horns apparently do.