Borrow the Dog


It has to be said that the dog in question was way brighter than I was.

If she fancies another dog she simply ‘shakes a tail feather’ and it’s on.

Sadly, I’m not a dog.

It’s trickier if you are human.

I’d been trying to find an original way to strike up a conversation. 

I couldn’t come up with anything original, so I reverted to a classic — walk a cute dog and females will at least smile at you, probably strike up a conversation. Dogs make men seem less likely to, well, I don’t know, do whatever it is that females don’t like. I’m woefully ignorant of such things.

So, the plan was hatched with only one glitch — I didn’t currently own a dog.

Used to — when I was young, but my apartment building didn’t allow dogs — must do something about that one day when I get the time.

Fortunately, my third best friend, William, had a beautiful standard poodle — black of fur with a cheeky smile and fun in its heart. Her name is Gladys, and she commands and demands attention — just what I needed.

Gladys likes me, which came in handy. I think she understands me, which is more than I do.

I remember the year, 1952, but not the exact day. You know how it is, you plan a campaign, but you have no clear idea of when success might come and when it does, you are so deliriously happy you forget to write down the date because you think this wonderfulness will go on forever — the folly of youth.

Then you are less young, and you wish you had stopped and written down every delicious moment.

I’d staked out what I thought was the perfect spot, just in front of the iron fence that had surrounded the small park for more than a century.

I tried to look casual — maybe I was preparing to light a cigarette, or I was writing a poem in my head. Perhaps I was just lost in thought. It didn’t matter unless someone asked me why I was lingering on this spot. No one asked.

“What a beautiful dog,” she said. I was so busy looking casual, I’d missed her approach.

She was immaculately dressed, perfect accessories. Her scarf was a few shades lighter than her outfit. Her curves were exquisite, and her gold earrings were bold. I wondered how she managed to keep her beret in place — another one of those secrets that females pass down through the generations. I didn’t ask, and I don’t want to know — some things should remain secret.

“Yes, she is,” I said, but you put her to shame, was what I was thinking, but I thought it better to say less at this stage.

“How old is she?” asked the vision in maroon.

“I have no idea. She doesn’t belong to me. I’m walking her for a friend, he’s not well.”

I figured that this gave me essential points — a man who is thoughtful and considerate of his friends. It had to provide me with an edge.

“Nothing serious, I hope?” she said. She wasn’t looking at me, she was patting Gladys, who was enjoying the attention while trying to look aloof.

I was handsomely dressed — she was fierce company, so I had to create the impression that I was in her league. Impression only — not actually close to her league, but my father always said that I should play against superior players and drag myself up to their level.

I mentioned a cafe nearby that had outside tables, and wasn’t it a beautiful day, and hadn’t Gladys taken to you — if you don’t have anywhere else to be?

She hesitated before saying she had a few minutes before having to be somewhere, she always left early for appointments.

Gladys stepped up just when she was needed by looking directly at the vision in maroon with a complimenting scarf and matching gloves.

I tipped my hat, and we walked with Gladys between us.

She was late for her meeting, and I was in a daze which lasted for the rest of my life.

Some days are better than others, and planning and preparation are never wasted.

Oh, yes, and it pays to have a dog. 

The Emerald Green Dress.

Jack Vettriano Painting 107

She bought that dress to please me.

It’s my favourite colour, and I love to see her wearing beautiful clothes. To complete the effect, she designed and made the necklace and earrings.

I work too much, travel too much and spend too much time away from her.

She’s patient, but for how long?

Fortunately, my job requires me to attend a lot of social occasions, particularly fund-raisers. We get to dress up and spend some time together. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I have the most beautiful wife. She has style and grace and something that is never applied to a male; poise.

She feels the cold, that’s why I’m putting my coat around her shoulders.

The first time I did that we were in Paris. 

We weren’t rich then, just a couple of kids who had worked hard for a few years; lousy part-time jobs while we studied. 

We lived on tinned soup and anything we could scrounge from the cafes we worked at. 

We were happy. 

Hungry, but happy.

Paris was our dream. 

I dreamed of being a writer and had visions of sitting in cafes that Hemingway sat in and writing a novel that the publishing world would fight over.

Her dream was different. 

She wanted to be a model. 

She wanted to be the model that famous painters fought over. 

Her dream became a reality, but mine didn’t quite make it. 

The war intervened and when it was over a bloke I fought alongside, who had saved my life on more than one occasion, introduced me to equities trading. 

I became rather good at it. 

Money always wins.

My novel sits in the bottom drawer of my desk at home.

She walked away from her modelling career to come back here and be my partner.

Sometimes I think I detect a kind of sadness in her eyes. Nothing too obvious, just a slight yearning.

There are paintings in important collections that feature her scantily clad beauty. Prominent artists still seek her out.

I drape the coat around her shoulders, and instantly, we are back on the West Bank in Paris. Young, poor and with our lives still in front of us.

I like making money, and I’m magnificent at it, but I don’t want to lose the lady in the emerald-green dress.

I wonder how long I can keep this up before someone steals her away? 

Like my work? Then buy me a coffee?