Posted by: Kate | May 24, 2011

Did You Know You’re Not Wearing Shoes?

Yet another thing to file under This Doesn’t Happen to Normal People

As background, Isaac is a night owl.  He stays awake until 10:00 or 11:00 most nights, and really is pretty happy most of that time.  I keep an eye on him, and when he starts whining a little, he gets his first bottle of the evening – just milk, now, and only at bedtime, but he doesn’t seem quite ready to wean just yet – then, an hour or so later, when he starts falling down more than usual, he gets Bottle #2, with bedtime immediately after that.  He typically sleeps for 12 hours at a stretch, so it all works out quite nicely for me, since I don’t mind staying up late and I can sleep in until 9:00 and still get up and start my day before he’s awake.

Every once in a while, though, he – being a toddler – throws us a curveball.  This time, it came in the form of, “No nigh-nigh,” with precisely the intensity and emphasis one would expect from an almost 15-month-old.  The second bottle had been successfully deployed, but the child Would Not Sleep.  Which would not have been all that big a deal, except he was obviously exhausted and cranky with it.  I had a houseful of two other children and a husband who were sound asleep and needed to be awake at 6:00 in the morning, so I couldn’t just let Isaac wander around, whining at high volume and falling down repeatedly, until he finally agreed with me that it was, indeed, time to crash.

So I unleashed the rarely-used Bottle #3 upon him, despite the fact that I knew his belly was full and this wasn’t the answer… I just couldn’t come up with any better answers.  We sat in my chair, he wouldn’t drink.  We stood and paced, he wouldn’t drink.  We opened the front door so he could look outside, he wouldn’t drink… but at least, then, he also stopped whining.  So, great, put down the bottle, and watch outside.

Up to this point, it’s just another mind-numbingly boring chapter in the life of a stay-home mother with word retrieval and memory issues – that is to say, I don’t do a whole lot worth blogging about, anyway, and when I do I have a really hard time finding the right words.  But along came a little dog, as though sent from a higher power just to remind me to occasionally question my own sanity…

As Isaac and I were standing there, inside the screen door, watching the night and appreciating the quietness of our neighborhood, this little dog goes trotting through my front yard.  It’s small enough that at first I thought it was a cat, but then I realized the gait was too bumpy to be feline, plus it had a very wide, doglike collar on its neck.  It was dark in color, gray or black, and was trotting along at that pace that seems to communicate, “Ha, ha,  I escaped!  Time to explore absolutely everything!”  It spent a few moments in our yard, and then started wandering back and forth across the street without the slightest pause for traffic – and our neighborhood is quiet, but it’s only a block away from one of the busiest streets in Salem, so there was a steady flow of cars, even at almost-midnight.

Our new-and-improved Laura was still awake and upstairs (did I mention that she has moved in here?), so I handed the baby over to her and started walking down the street after this dog.  I wasn’t entirely sure what I would do if and when I caught up with it – check the collar for a phone number, first, or maybe call Animal Control?  I hadn’t gotten that far.  It was an early spring night in New England, so I was dressed in pajama pants, a tank top and a short bathrobe, no shoes.  It was maybe 55 or 60 degrees – on the cool side, but not uncomfortably so, even for those of us with Reynaud’s disorder (and thus a heightened sensitivity to cold).

It didn’t take very long for me to decide I wasn’t going to be catching up with this creature anytime soon.  It was maintaining a consistent 3-4 house lead on me, and continued its random street-crossing, to the point where I could only see it when a car drove past and the headlights illuminated this dog.  By the third car – five minutes, tops? – I was able to watch it disappear into a little patch of trees on the other side of the road, and I decided I had done my duty as a citizen for the evening.  I had tried to solve the mystery of the dog, failed, and was now ready to go back home and solve the mystery of the awake baby.

Now, that third car?  The one whose headlights finally proved to me that I was on a wasted mission and should just turn around and go home?  It also turned around, right about at my driveway.  And it was then that I discovered, it wasn’t just any car: it was a police car.  It pulled up next to me, and I could hear a male voice, so I started to reply – but quickly realized that he was talking on his radio, window closed.  So I just waited.

Thirty seconds or so go by, and he gets out of his car.  He immediately starts talking to me in that slightly-too-slow, slightly-too-loud tone reserved for people that are mentally unstable or otherwise unpredictable.  “What are you doing out here this evening?”

“Oh, I saw a dog out in the neighborhood and wanted to see if I could catch up to it, to call its owners…”

“Did you know you’re not wearing shoes?”  He pointed at my feet, in case I wasn’t entirely certain where shoes should go in the first place.

“Yes, I know.  It’s May, so I thought I’d be OK for a short walk.”

“Yes, but… you’re not wearing shoes.  Are you OK?”

“I’m fine.  You’re wearing short sleeves, are you warm enough?”

“Yes, OK.  Hang on a second.”  He reaches into his car and grabs his phone, radio, whatever, and starts talking into it.  I only catch about every third word, but it was to the tune of, “Cancel that call, not a hospital patient, woman claims that she saw a dog loose in the area.”

Wait, what?  Not a hospital patient?  Well… OK, fair enough, I am barefoot, and my pajama pants are, in fact, hospital-issued from last year, and we are only about 1/2 a mile from the nearest hospital, which does happen to contain a psych ward… hah.  Time to act just as Sane as Sane Can Be, lest I have to wake Willem to explain why I’m being transported to the ER for an evaluation.

The cop puts his radio thing away and suddenly seems to focus on me for the first time, as though up to now I was a potential threat and now I was just a mere blip on his evening.  “You said you saw a dog?  Where?”  I pointed to the area where I had seen it last.  “OK.  I’m going to go see if I can find it, and then I’ll check in with you before I leave.  Where do you live?”  I pointed again.  He drove the half-block or so to look for the dog, and I walked back to the house, now featuring Laura and Isaac on the front steps.  I explained to her what was going on, and we both laughed a little – but not too much, because that would look, you know, crazy.

A few minutes later, the cop drove back, parked in front of the house, and got out to talk to me.  He hadn’t been able to find the dog – something about the dog not much wanting to be found, I suspect, but what do I know?  So now he just had to take down my name and address, because he had made an initial call in to the station about this “potential hospital patient,” so he was going to have to write a never-mind thing that included a bit about I-talked-to-her-and-she-said-she’s-fine.  I agreed, yep, I’m just as sane as… well.  I’m fine, anyway.

We waited until he drove off, and we were safely back in the house, before we allowed ourselves to fully appreciate the humor of the situation.  Late-night dogs, police cars, escaped hospital patients… this just doesn’t happen to other people, because other people are smart enough to stay home and mind their own business.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed that story. I walk around my neighborhood all the time without shoes. Guess I should get an excuse ready…

  2. Bwa hahahahaha! Fer crying out loud!

  3. I totally would have wandered out barefoot after a stray dog too (I have). That’s a great story!

  4. what an adventure!

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