Her name was Heidi, but I called her "Tigger" and "Little One," with good reasons. She was quite the tiny, little moppet as a toddler; yet full of life's energy and excitement, and she dearly loved me. She'd hug me every chance she got, but she'd do it so fast, I was never able to get down to her level. She'd end up hugging my knees and gazing up at me with the biggest smile. As a kid, I was quite tall!
One Christmas, the year was 1975, Heidi, her dad , who is my brother Greg, her mom and her older brother, Nick, came to our house in Arlington, Massachusetts. That year, she was the same age I was when I attended her father's wedding - five, and I was twelve; and that day is one of the brightest memories of my childhood.
After opening the presents and having breakfast, it was playtime until Mom's traditional big Christmas dinner. My Dad stocked up the fireplace and got rid of all the wrapping paper and most of the boxes the toys and gifts had come in. Most, but not all. As he used to say: "Kids have more fun with the box than they do with the toy!"
So, Nick played with his new truck - crashing it into its box (of course); and Heidi went bouncing about the living room, getting dangerously close to the Christmas tree. Me, I was trying to look happy at the hideous sweater Grandmother had (once again) given me, while at the same time burying the underwear Mom had so thoughtfully got me under the remaining wrapping paper. Maybe if I buried them deep enough, Dad would burn them too! Meanwhile, Heidi was bouncing very close to Bernard, who was sprawled across the floor. He was Greg's St. Bernard dog; not the most original or names, but he was always a good dog.
She landed on him and I stiffened. Not out of fear for his internal organs, she weighed about one-fifth of his body mass. I was wondering how he'd react. He lifted his massive head and their eyes met. They seemed to be considering each other quite a bit. Her tiny head was barely half the size of his.
He sat up, and sent her tumbling to the floor. It was like a man brushing dandruff from his shoulder; it took no effort at all.
She rolled up onto her knees and gave him a nasty glare. Clearly, she was not pleased! His large nose sniffed her head and body, and she giggled; her little hands wrapping about his head to give him a hug. And then, his mouth opened and he licked her entire face! His long, wet tongue rolled up and across her face, like a paint roller covering a patch of wall.
She was drenched, and she let out a squeal as her hands flew to her face. Her fingers danced up and down her face, as if taking inventory to make sure he hadn't lick something away. She got up close to him. I stiffened once more, not sure if she was going to cry or yell at him.
She kissed the end of his nose.
From that day forward, they were best buddies.
Click here for more by AJ Robinson.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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