I was walking in the door, late one night,
When my eyes beheld a frightening sight,
For on the frame of the living room door was a sign:
“Welcome to the Haunted House,” announced a child-o-mine.
That November evening, when my house became haunted (Erma-style), was only the beginning of my spooky post-Halloween tale.
The next morning, with monsters still splaying the walls of our living room, I escorted Sigourney to preschool.
Spooky Event #1: We were early.
We were early. Sigourney got dressed in a timely manner. She did not argue about going to preschool. She did not cling to her father’s leg and sob. On the way to school, she did not complain about the radio station I picked, the “inedible” items in her trail mix bowl, or that I didn’t take a “different way” to school. (She has a thing about doing everything a “different way,” which is mainly the opposite of whatever way I do it.)
We arrived at preschool early — so early that her teacher gently reminded us that the room was not technically open yet, and we needed to give the custodian, Cherwinnia, time to prepare the room.
Obligingly, Sigourney and I walked down the hallway, pointing out the fabulous preschool art hanging in the corridor. Then, from out of nowhere (nowhere being the preschool room, I suppose), Cherwinnia appeared.
“I took my dog to obedience school last night,” she said, standing shoulder to shoulder against me. It was the eeriest thing that has ever been uttered to my immediate left.
Soon after, I left my smallest daughter at preschool and headed to my office.
Spooky Event #2: The phone rings.
The phone at my desk rings. The caller ID displays:
Suddenly, Cherwinnia is at my shoulder. I feel her breathing near me. “I took my dog to obedience school last night,” she had said.
The caller ID does not lie. It is the obedience school. The person at the obedience school identifies herself as Vespera, my neighbor. She says she has my dog.
“My dog?” I repeat.
“Is your dog named Cinnamon?”
My dog IS named Cinnamon. Haunting music starts playing in the background. Actually, it’s train whistles, but in more haunting tones than usual.
This is where things went a little weird.
Spooky Event #3: My dog answers to the name Gracie.
My neighbor Vespera said she saw our beaglollie (that’s a beagle-border collie mix, for those of who you are not dog know-it-alls) in the corn field near our house. Thinking it could be her own dog, she called out, “GRACIE! GRACIE! COME HERE, GRACIE.”
Cinnamon, apparently, answers to the name “Come Here.” Or “Gracie.” Ironically, he seldom responds to the name “Cinnamon.” He did not hesitate to jump into the neighbor’s car. He did not hesitate to hop into the neighbor’s child’s lap. I can only imagine the amount of drool that the neighbor’s child endured on their drive.
Obvious Event #4: Cinnamon freaks out.
Perhaps not the spookiest part of the event, but when I asked my neighbor Vespera when I should come to obedience school to collect my canine, she said that we could leave him there a while, but that he was in a kennel and “freaking out a bit.” I left work and collected my pouty-eyed pup from obedience school and drove him back to his home/corn field.
Conclusion: Mystery Unsolved.
What did Cherwinnia know, and when did she know it? How did my neighbor find out where I work? Why was Cinnamon-Gracie in the cornfield? Why does Cinnamon chase skunks? Who let the dogs out? And which Jamberry nails set should I get Emilia for Chanukah? (Insert plug for sister-in-law’s nail wraps here.) These are the questions. So, like, hurry up and answer them, mkay?
As a post-script, can I mention here how embarrassing it is to have your obviously untrained dog being escorted to an obedience school? His time at obedience school left absolutely no mark of training on him. He still answers to the name “Gracie.” Or “Dinnertime.” Or “Stop Jumping on Me.”