Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mr. White

Sweetheart, Honey, Baby and Mr. Smarty Pants are just a few examples of the nicknames I use to address my husband. He responds to all of them. But I think the most appropriate moniker ever used to describe my spouse has got to be "Snow White."

Everybody knows who Snow White is, right? She's the overly-perky fairy tale princess who joyfully cooks for and cleans up after seven sloppy dwarfs in their tiny cottage in the woods somewhere. When I think of Snow White, I immediately picture the Disney version of her. This is the puffy-sleeved, yellow-skirted, red-caped, ivory-skinned beauty who is constantly SURROUNDED by birds, squirrels, chipmunks, fawns, and bunnies. Snow White just sits down in the middle of a meadow and woodland creatures emerge from everywhere to listen to her sing and help her with the sweeping. She's just got a way with them, apparently. The same is definitely true of my Alan.

Animals LOVE my husband. I'm using the word LOVE here. If we were to visit your home today, I can confidently tell you what would happen just seconds after we stepped through your doorway. Your dog, cat, hamster, guinea pig, parakeet, and/or rabbit would completely ignore you and me and come bounding happily up to Alan. He'd bend down and perform his miracle "head scratch," thereby ensuring that for the remainder of the visit, your pet will be permanently attached to my husband's side.

The same is true for the animals that live in our house. Trixie loves me, she ADORES Alan. She's happy to see me when I come home, she sprints around the house in wild, celebratory abandon when Alan arrives. Alan tries to convince me that Trixie prefers him because HE doesn't dress her up in Halloween costumes, Cleveland Browns jerseys, and various doggie bandanas like I do, but I know better.

We have owned three cockatiels since we've been married. All of them have been CONSUMED with Alan, calling to him endlessly until he finally gives in and takes them out of the cage and places them on their favorite spot, his shoulder. Never mind that I'M the one that hand-feeds them as babies, cleans their cages, and provides them with endless treats and toys. They prefer Snow White. We have a game we play with our current cockatiel, Vegas. I take her out of her cage, place her on my shoulder and sit down on the couch. We then time how long it takes for our precious wing-clipped little bird to plot, then successfully execute, her long route to get to her precious Alan. This involves shimmying down my arm, bounding across the sleeping Jack Russell Terrier by my side (her sworn enemy!), and finally traversing up the arm and onto the chest of Alan, where she hunkers down near his chin and waits for the head scratching to commence!

Although it's painful for me to admit, I've finally grown to accept the "second fiddle" status I hold in my pets' eyes. I gather as much affection as I can when Alan's out of town and dutifully step aside when the "worshipping" begins upon his arrival back home. The truth is, I love that I married a man who is so gentle and tender, even the animal community recognizes his special gifts.

But Alan's Snow White talent is not limited to the domestic sector of the animal population. Because I am an enormous bleeding heart, we have a "catch and release" rule in our house that is strictly enforced. This applies to all outdoor creatures that have mistakenly made their way into the house and/or screened-in pool enclosure. Alan, with his tender, yet cat-like reflexes, has successfully captured countless lizards, flies, wasps, spiders and snakes and placed them back into the wild from whence they came! We had so many little sparrows that kept getting trapped in our screened enclosure over the years that Alan became proficient in wrangling, grasping, and releasing them in a matter of mere seconds. Snow White couldn't have done any better! Then one day Alan's ability shot him straight to Superhero status...

This was the day that we were driving along the congested highway in Orlando known as Interstate 4. If you've ever visited the city of Orlando and it's theme parks, chances are you've driven on I-4. In fact, many, many people drive on I-4 at any given time of any given day--it's frequently gridlocked. So we weren't really very surprised that day when we came upon a police car, driving slowly in the center lane with it's lights flashing just ahead of us. Whenever a car attempted to pass the slow-moving cruiser to the right or left, the policeman would turn on the siren and motion for them to remain behind him. A closer look revealed why. Just in front of the police car, running for all he was worth, was a small white, stocky, terrified dog weaving back and forth across the lanes, trying to evade the oncoming cars. There was nowhere for him to go but straight ahead, so the poor, panting, exhausted pup just kept running. Finally, he found sanctuary underneath a stalled truck in the right lane, so the cop stopped the cruiser, halted the traffic, and jumped out to try and extract the pooch. Soon another siren-blaring truck arrived and an EMT (his was apparently the only other emergency vehicle in the area) jumped out to assist.

The cop was the first to dive under the stalled truck, sliding on his belly to attempt the rescue. He emerged just seconds later, dog-less, with blood dripping from his freshly-bitten hand. Next the EMT tried his luck and, in less time than the cop, crawled back out holding his bleeding hand in pain. He was not amused. Neither were the passengers in the now thousands of cars stacking up behind us. Horns began to blare. The tourists were growing restless! It was at this point that I turned to my sweet husband and said, "They need you, Snow. Go work your magic!"

In one slick move, Alan leaped from our car and removed his shirt as he hurried towards the frantic scene. With his shirt in his hands, he shimmied under the truck as the rest of us watched in awed silence. All we could see were the bottoms of his sneakers peeking out from beneath the vehicle. Alan emerged just seconds later, holding the trembling dog, his shirt wrapped around it's frightened face, and deposited him in the back of the police cruiser. The crowd broke into thunderous, horn-blaring-accompanied cheers! The police and EMT gave Alan a hearty, bloody handshake, thanked him profusely and left to take the poor pooch back to the address shown on his collar tag. Everyone arrived at their theme parks on time and an exhausted terrier got reunited with his owner, all thanks to my loving, dog-whispering Snow White!

Now, when I sit around with my girlfriends and we brag about our husbands' accomplishments, they all know that it's "game over" when I tell my "Dog on I-4" story. Perhaps their spouses may be younger or wealthier than my Alan, but NONE of them, not ONE, has ever single-handedly saved a terrified mutt on a four lane highway in the middle of rush hour!! Now if he could only get the squirrels in our yard to help with the housework...

Thanks for reading!!


Unknown said...

Oh my goodness, how is it that you never told ME that story??? I've never heard of this before! Wow! But it doesn't suprise me. Alan is indeed Mr. White. :)
Great great writing, as usual, Joan. I was getting anxious for the next post. Thanks!

CentFla said...

I only wish that you told everyone that I DID have a T-shirt under the shirt I put over the dog. Can you imagine me walking around a crowded highway with no shirt on?

You're my Snow White baby!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about the shirt thing....but that is really cool, another great one, Joan


seaangel223 said...

Isn't it great to be able to see your husband as a super-hero?! Great writing Joan! Keep up the animal life saving Alan! We need more couples like you!

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