Thursday, January 21, 2010
Rubber Fishy, you’re the one
When Morgan, Bear and I left our homes in southern Ontario in search of a different way of life, we had no idea what we would find, but it was an adventure that began with a truck and a travel trailer.
As experts at leaving things to the last minute, we left in a rush and ended up taking more stuff with us than we wanted, boxes of things to go through along the way. Our great escape turned into a limping spectacle of us trying to outrun the trappings of society.
Bear brought stuff too, though hers was all practical. It amounted to a couple of bowls, one for food, the other for water, a bed comprised of a couple of thick quilts, her black rubber bone - a receptacle for the sweet nectar of the gods (aka peanut butter), and a green squeaky fish. Everything had a purpose. That dog knows how to pack.
Fishy may have seemed a luxury, but anyone who ever saw Bear with her most prized of possessions would quickly change their mind. Bear and Fishy were destined to be together from the moment she laid eyes on his rubbery, bright lime-green body and bulging blue eyes. Once she heard him squeak, there was no going back, she was completely under his spell.
Anything that unexpectedly squeaks, beeps or makes any number of other interesting noises instantly gains Bear’s undivided attention. She becomes so focused on what made the sound, a bomb could explode beside her and she would brush it off as a mild disturbance in her concentration. It’s as though she is completely baffled that such an intriguing sound could come from an inanimate object and she must, against all odds, understand it.
She is overcome by an expression that changes the entire shape of her face so she looks like a completely different dog. Her ears perk up, wrinkling her forehead which seems to grow taller and almost gives the impression that her snout has shrunk. Her face becomes flatter somehow but her mouth seems wider so you expect her to puff out her cheeks, clear her throat importantly and say something like “Well, well, what’s this? Let’s just get a closer look shall we?” It’s a scenario that seems all the more plausible when you see her eyes. They become giant black marbles, twice their normal size and flash from deep within, a shimmery kind of light that holds every question you ever thought to ask, plus ten more.
The fish wasn’t even intended for Bear in the first place. It was a gift to Morgan’s mom from her brother, a gag because she had installed a hot tub. In leu of a rubber ducky, she got a fish. It belonged to her for all of five minutes until Bear got her jaws around him.
Bear instantly loved Fishy and treated him with such gentle devotion. She carried him with her everywhere she went, cradling him between her sharp, white teeth. He fit perfectly in her mouth, as though he was designed to rest there. Often Bear would wander into a room with her cheeks in a relaxed hug around Fishy’s body, his belly protruding from between her lips like a big green smile. She had a contented look on her face as though all was right with the world as long as she had Fishy.
When Bear was excited about something she would run and grab Fishy then walk around the house working her jaws to make him squeak louder and louder. She threw her head around in a dance that sent excited wiggles all the way down her body to where her tail swayed recklessly through the air. She gave the impression of losing herself completely to wild abandon, except, if you looked closely, you would see she remained mindful of Fishy. She learned how to make him squeak loudly with the gentlest of pressure. She made Fishy’s super-soft, malleable body look solid and as though it posed great resistance to her eager jaws.
There was no question Fishy would accompany us on our journey. Within days of leaving, Fishy became our trip mascot. While the three of us crammed ourselves into the cab of our truck, Fishy found a place to ride in the dashboard ashtray. His big blue eyes stared out at us as we watched the world roll by the windows or pored over a road map, picking the most out of the way places to visit. His green, protruding fish lips curved into an almost imperceptible smile that gave him an overall pleasant and, indeed, calming expression despite his bulging eyes.
By day Fishy could be found in his dashboard perch or lovingly cradled in Bear’s mouth. By night he was snugged up to Bear on her bed, beneath her chin or between her paws. He became Bear's travelling companion, and those months we spent on the move will always be punctuated by memories of Bear and her beloved Fishy.