Maybe it is my quick response towards a dark sense of humor that prompted me to smell dogshit when I first entered the CARE4Paws event on the westside campus at Santa Barbara City College. Yes, there were also smiles on the faces of happy people as they stroll around with their dogs. Volunteers were putting up colorful tents with bliss; guests treated themselves to free cups of water as they stood under the blistering sun. The music, a soft rock melody that traveled through the wind and caressed the faces of people, was the sort of tune I listen to when I write in the dark solitude of my room.
I was there, eavesdropping on a conversation a striking and beguiling woman was having with a couple of tv reporters (I think that’s what they were), as her little black dog took a nap a couple of inches away from my left foot; I had been bitten by a dog yesterday, but I still had the audacity to be here; there is something wrong with me.
The reporter complimented her on her hat. She said,” oh, I’m hiding a multitude of hair down here!”
A multitude? I thought to myself, hearing a word nobody uses on a day to day conversation. That’s my kind of woman.
Volunteers and other people walked around with shirts that read “stay pawsitive.”
Pawsitive. I could not help to smile at that.
I was here, waiting for my Rotary Club friends. We were supposed to volunteer, from 11 to 4. It’s 11:20. I’m the first person here. For someone who doesn’t like dogs, that’s kind of impressive.
As I was typing on my phone and looking at random photos on social media, I overheard the woman’s conversation with the reporters. Her vocabulary continued to mesmerize me, and it wasn’t until the reporter asked the next question, that I learned who this woman was.
“So, how’s your writing going?” The reporter said.
Of course, I thought, she had to be a writer.
“Oh, It’s going great,” she said, and went on, talking about her business, her books, and the things that she does.
I decided to strike up a conversation with the beguiling woman. I realized she’s old enough to be my mother, but that never seems to be a problem for me. She was cute, and I was gonna make sure I talk to her.
The reporters made their way, the woman turned back and caught me smiling her way. “Hi!” she said, her voice was enough to make me feel something inside.
“How are you?” I said, putting my phone away into the darkness of the pocket in my jacket.
“I’m great! She said, her Caucasian, perfect face positioned right in from of mine. I couldn’t help to steal a look down toward her breast. I’m a man, what did you expect?
“My name is Gabriel,” I said right away, stretching my hand in front of hers. Then I went right ahead and spilled what was brewing up inside my head. “I knew you were a writer the moment you use the word ‘multitude.’”
Her smile only became more prominent. “Did you?”
I nodded. “Yes, ma’am. That’s not a word people use on a regular basis.”
She had questions of her own, brewing in her head. “So, what do you do?”
“I’m a writer, too, but I am not as famous as you are.”
She chuckled, appreciating my comment. “Well, I am not that famous, dear, I am more of a local writer. What about you?”
“Well, I am not famous at all,” I said. “I do have a job, managing a local restaurant.”
“It is,” I agreed. “Guess I’m not in a hurry to be famous.”
“You shouldn’t be,” she said, “Enjoy the process.”
We talked for about five more minutes. I told her I came to the event to volunteer with my friends from Rotary, but nobody was there yet. “I have this propensity to come too early,” I admitted. “It might not be such a good idea.”
“Probably no,” she said, the smile still on her face.
After a moment of silence, I said, “Do you have a card? I would love to talk to you again.”
She gave me one of her cards, we said our goodbyes, she left, and I continued waiting for my friends under the blistering sun.
Thirty minutes later and nobody came. I was looking at a bunch of little canines running and jumping hoops inside a walled area in the middle of the place as the announcer said who the dogs were, their names, their breed, and how old they were.
Then I turned around and saw Shannon.
Shannon is friends with one of my Rotary friends, Diana. She was wearing one of those ‘Stay Pawsitive’ shirts, walking around, directing people, telling them where everything was. I approached her and asked about Diana.
“Oh, she’s not coming today. She is at another event with Rotary over at Chumas.”
“I thought they were gonna be here,” I said, slightly dissapointed.
“They have another event with all the Rotary members.”
“But I didn’t hear of that,” I said.
“They didn’t tell you?”
I thought about it. “Guess I wasn’t paying attention at the last meeting.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “Guess nobody really cared for paws, right?”
So I went away, getting my phone out of my pocket, checking my emails, and realizing that yes, I was not paying attention at the last meeting. There was another event going on at Chumas.
“Oh well,” I said to myself as I left. “I guess I am gonna spend my day off writing and editing the book I’m working on.”
The takeaway of this day: Life is unpredictable, and we just have to move along with it. Who knows, maybe you end up striking up a conversation with someone.