Saturday, November 24, 2012

No Man's Time

The dog has been restless all weekend. Just now we were sitting in the living room, reading and/or sleeping in our chairs, and he was circling around us, his toenails going clickety clickety clickety, his cold nose prodding our arms at intervals while he made little whinging noises in his throat. This kind of behavior generally presages the onset of, say, a tornado watch or a camera or, lately, someone chewing bubble gum -- this is his newest phobia -- but just now none of the above was happening.

Now I'm sitting on the leatherette sofa in the hall between the study, where the shorter people are watching Enchanted for the forty thousandth time, and the kitchen, where the college girl is making cookies, with flour. I make note of this because earlier another girl made cookies without flour. Once the college girl, when she was not much older than the other girl, made a cake without flour -- at least, it started out without flour, until she remembered that she had forgotten, fortunately not too late to dump the flour in, give the mix a stir, and pull it out later no worse for the strange timing of the ingredients. Anyway, I'm on the leatherette sofa with the dog curled into a hound knot under my left elbow, which is maybe what he wanted all the time. The rug in the living room is thin, the wood floor hard, and he knows better than to lie on the couch when we're there to see him do it.

One child is absent at the moment. We last saw him at a wedding at two o'clock this afternoon, and while we hope that he is having a nice time at the reception, to which some friends kindly drove him, we do hope that eventually he will come home from it. Surely the bride and groom can't still be there. Then again, when Aelred went back for Confession at four, they were still in the church having their pictures made, so maybe it really has taken them this long to cut the cake, drink the champagne, and -- if my own wedding experience is any indicator -- not realize until months later, when they watch the video and see the camera panning down long tables groaning with eatables of every description, that there was anything more on offer than cake and champagne.

We got married in Lent, the strangeness of which didn't occur to us at the time. It was spring break, that was all we thought about, and if we didn't get married then we'd have to wait till the summer, and we didn't want to do that. We were engaged for seven months, and that, in my view, was about six months too long. Once you decide to get married, I felt -- and still feel -- you ought to be married, not hanging around in limbo showing people the ring on your (obstinately unmanicured) finger and opening boxes with blenders in them. At least, that's the introvert's view of engagement;  also the impatient person's, and the legal adult's. The couple today had been together since they were fourteen and sixteen, and while they might have known early on that they would spend their lives together, they could hardly have done anything about it in the ninth and eleventh grades. I thought seven months was a long time, but they had eight years to deliberate. Meanwhile, I find it ironic that every year my wedding anniversary, that soonest-possible time that we could have gotten married, given all kinds of variables that I won't go into here, falls in the season of sacrifice and self-denial, and we have to carve out a private little feast day in order to celebrate it. I'm not at all convinced that we don't enjoy this yearly celebration in the midst of penance far more than we did the actual wedding, though we enjoyed the wedding quite a lot.

Tomorrow of course is the feast of Christ the King and the end of the church year, though we still have a week of no-man's-time on the liturgical calendar to get through between now and next Sunday, when Advent starts. I went to pull some appropriately colored tablecloth out of the drawer for dinner, which was turkey stew, which isn't all that regal anyway, but what with all the cooking and eating and wedding-guesting I've fallen behind on the laundry, and the only thing left was a red cloth that I pull out for the martyrs. There being a lot of martyrs, this cloth is looking a little faded these days, and I suppose if I thought about that for long enough, I'd come up with some insight about its metaphorical rightness, but what with all the cooking and eating and wedding-guesting, I've been a little comatose this evening, so I just don't know, except that there is such a thing as being feasted-out. Fortunately for all of us, the kingship of Christ doesn't depend on the kind of party we throw for Him. Even as He is king of earth and sea and sky, so is He king of the faded red tablecloth and the leftovers.

And then it's into that week, the between-time, the reprieve, when it isn't Advent yet but will be before we're ready. The time lies fallow between Sunday and Sunday;  still, I can almost feel its restlessness, waiting to start to wait.


Margaret said...

Beautiful, Sally! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I find it strange that our dogs are behaving in a similar manner. We're blaming a lot of it on our college girl being home. She travels back to school this morning. Then also the thoughts on marriage, I agree with totally and we ended up with an anniversary in Advent for much the same reason! May God continue to bless and keep you all close to Himself! Love, Margie (PS I gave Mark a copy of your book for his birthday, he was delighted!)

steve said...

"This kind of behavior generally presages the onset of, say, a tornado watch or a camera or, lately, someone chewing bubble gum -- this is his newest phobia"

Many years ago Trudy had a cat with a similarly arbitrary-seeming set of neuroses. Petrified by certain ceiling fans, incognizant if others. About cardboard, also, he was ambivalent. In its planar form he found completely uninteresting. Boxes he loved, tubes, he loathed with a pluperfect purple passion. Christmas trees he found irresistible, until someone sent us wind chimes as a gift, which, we discovered, terrified him. We used them as an ornament for many years.

Sally Thomas said...

Ha, yes, cats. I have known plenty of cat neuroses, but fewer dog ones, so this dog's really amuse me. Watching him fret and pace and slink away under the table because someone in the house is chewing gum makes me laugh, possibly because a lot of gum-chewing in my immediate vicinity makes me want to do much the same things. Mine, here, is the laughter of self-recognition.

He also loves beads and anything bead-like. We've learned to put our rosaries safely away, and also to protect any stuffed animals with beady eyes. Our youngest has had a number of her cuddly inanimate friends blinded by the enthusiastic ministrations of the dog, so now she blockades her bedroom door with a dollhouse to keep him out.

My mother once had a cat who was mesmerized by the breakfast-room skylights, until it rained, at which point she wanted desperately to go outside, to get away from the noise. (this cat, I believe, was either a sister or a niece of those ones of yours . . . one of that famous family, anyway)

Anne-Marie said...

My in-laws were married on the last Saturday before Lent, because in those days weddings during Lent were verboten. They traveled that day to a resort that catered to honeymooners, and on that afternoon the resort had a sort of orientation meeting. The host, in order to plan the menu for Friday (because this was also in the days of obligatory Friday abstinence), asked how many of the couples there were Catholic, and something like 80% of the hands went up.

I once attended a wedding held in Lent at which the bridesmaids wore purple satin. It was the bride's favorite color, but we teased her for being liturgically correct.

Sally Thomas said...

Well, we weren't Catholic at the time, so there was none of that -- as far as we were concerned, it was just plain ol' March.