I love pugs. Little bug-eyed, wheezy dogs that are so ugly they’re cute. And I remember the first day I started loving pugs.
In the summer of 1966 I was 12 and had a pretty solid business cutting grass. $4 per lawn. I’d ride my bike from job to job dragging this lawnmower.
Anyway, my parents were helping me out telling everyone I was cutting lawns so, I was excited but not too surprised when my mom told me that I got a call from a librarian at the public library. This was the big time.
Now I know that library lawn. It’s ten times bigger than my regular gigs. I’m thinking $40 … a week! That makes me a man of means! That’s a new mitt and, if I save up, a new bike … with a banana seat!
I camp out by the phone and sure enough, the librarian, Miss Reynolds, calls back. She wants the mowing done Saturday morning and gave me the address. Funny, I had never thought of the public library having an address. Everybody knows whe … wait. Oh no. It wasn’t the public library but Miss Reynolds’ house. Another four-buck gig, maybe $4.50 with the disappointment surcharge.
And it was a difficult job too. The back was totally overgrown; so I had to like tilt the mower up, move forward one foot, lower it on the weeds and it almost stalled every time.
OK, this has almost nothing to do with the story but one of those cuts where I lowered the lawnmower, I pulled it away I was horrified to see a box turtle. And it was bleeding! I’d hurt a turtle! The blade just nipped the top of her shell. So I took a Band-Aid I had on my knee and put it on the turtle’s back. And she recovered. I know because every time I mowed Miss Reynold’s lawn that summer, and believe me, I mowed it as often as she’d let me, I saw my turtle still wearing my Band-Aid.
Anyway, it was grueling work and I was happy to take a break when I saw Miss Reynolds motioning to me from her back porch.
Now Miss Reynolds had a pug named Bebe. I sit down on the top porch step and Bebe is bouncing around and nuzzling me and I’m petting her and looking at Miss Reynolds and realizing that this is not “weekday” Miss Reynolds the librarian any more. This is now “weekend” Miss Reynolds. Miss Reynolds the hippie chick; hair down, barefoot, cutoffs and a peasant blouse.
OK, if you’ve never been a 12-year-old boy … there are priorities. Bikes, baseball, ice cream and, right up there, if possible, seeing a naked girl.
So Miss Reynolds is bending over to hand me a soda. I take it and say, “Thank y–o–u!” Gravity has taken control of my gaze and her blouse and as my eyes drop I realized her girls were right there in front of me. I-R-L !
The universe had given me a gift. Awarded me first base.
Miss Reynolds and I held that pose for an eternity, like a perverse Norman Rockwell painting! Her smiling, me holding a cold soda in one hand and the other petting her happy little pug like I was shining my Sunday shoes.
And I still love pugs … and turtles … and my wife … who has a degree in library science.