You stand under the porch light at your apartment door looking at your watch. You can hear Heather inside, but you know not to enter until exactly 9:30. At the right time you turn the key and slowly enter making sure to announce your presence. Out of nowhere she jumps you.
The girl may run hot and cold, but at least when she is hot it makes up for the rest of it. You start fumbling with her clothes. There are too many of them. People should all wear Velcro body suits that come off with one pull. Your hand is all the way up her back when she stops you.
Wait for what? You think this is as good a place as any.
“I have a surprise for you.” She leads you into bedroom.
The bedroom is good. That works too. You start to untuck and unbutton as you make your way. She sits on your bed next to a big wrapped box.
“I got you a present. Open it.”
You skip the box and head straight for her. She pushes you back.
“No. I’m not your present. Open the box.”
That is when you see it move. That freaks you out and you take a step back.
“What is in there?”
Heather is so giddy with excitement you think she might pee on your bed. This might be a joke. By now you know there is something alive in the box. Don’t let it be a snake. Maybe she captured a squirrel and stuffed it in a box. Maybe it’s a snake and a squirrel and the snake ate the squirrel, which would be good because then it would not want to eat you. Slowly you lift up the top and…
“It’s a puppy!” She squeals with delight.
Inside is a little yellow puff ball with a black nose.
“He’s a lab and his name is Milo.”
“Because, he looks like a Milo.”
You know better than to argue with logic. You pick Milo up and hold him to your face so you can look him in the eye. What are you going to do with a dog? It’s so much responsibility. You don’t even own any plants because you know you won’t remember to water them.
Heather introduces the two of you. “Milo, this is Mark. He is your daddy and he is going to be the best daddy ever. He’s going to take you for walks and play fetch with you and you are going to be the happiest dog ever!”
Milo pees on your bed. You hand him to Heather.
“Did you make a boo-boo?” She starts making baby talk to the puppy.
You have never seen her like this before. As you go to fetch the only clean towel you have to sop up Milo’s boo-boo it occurs to you this is a test. Obviously, something has changed dramatically in your relationship. What is with the daddy talk? Is this thing going to the next level?
As much as you lament the fact that you only see each other once and a while you actually enjoy having your own space. You don’t have a toothbrush in her bathroom and she doesn’t have any feminine products in yours. You wonder if you are ready for this. Whatever this new phase is, Milo is the gatekeeper.
After cleaning up and playing with the puppy you pin Heather to the bed which is now just a mattress because the sheets are in a pile on floor.
“I have to go.”
She gets up and starts to straighten herself out. “I’m staying with my parents at the hotel. Then we’re all going to drive home together in the morning. I really shouldn’t have stayed as long as I did.”
You are stunned and too disappointed not to let it show.
She gives you a goodbye kiss. “I’ll be back, Friday.”
You do the math. That’s five days.
Before she leaves she asks, “Do you like the puppy?”
“I love the puppy. Milo and I are going to be best buds.”
When she leaves, Milo pees on the door. Some things don’t change.