Now that Ted and I were engaged, we had two big decisions to make: when to have the wedding and whether to include the dog in the ceremony. Both answers, you’ll be surprised to note, were made with rapid—or shall we say rabid?—certainty. The wedding, we decided, would be held in May rather than September (with the idea that, if we did it sooner rather than later, we would freak out for only 5 months rather than 12). As for Rex, well, since freaking out was a key factor, and since Rex could still not be counted on not to freak out among strangers—not even well-dressed and happily drunk ones—and since none of the members of my family even liked my dog—not even remotely—well, Ted was going to have to find himself another best man.
Because Rex would not be receiving a cream-colored hand calligraphered invitation to our wedding, we were then faced with the task of finding a dog-sitter for him. The dog-sitter we’d hired to take care of him during our trip to France was, understandably, unwilling to take him again, given the number of times he had tried to escape on her (three), and the number of times he had succeeded (two). So she was out. Next, I put an advertisement up on ManhattanDogChat, but apparently Rex’s reputation had preceded him not only to the Upper East Side (where we had just moved), but even into cyberspace, for nobody, to date had written back.
“What will we do?” I said to Ted as the Big Day drew near (“near” to a pre-wedding bride can mean anything from two days to four months). “We can’t take him to Massachusetts. He’s been banished from that state—I think my sister put an all-points bulletin out on him in New Hampshire, too.”
“I'll stay home with him then,” Ted said. “You’d like that wouldn’t you?’ he said to the dog in his happy voice. “If I stayed at home with you during my own wedding?”
“That isn’t funny,” I said. Nothing, I mean nothing, is funny to a pre-wedding bride.
“Well, maybe my father will come stay with him. He doesn’t want to come to the wedding anyway. He doesn’t want to see my mom.”
“That’s not funny either. Have you asked him yet to be your best man?”
“No, not yet.”
“Well, when do you plan to ask him?” I screeched, and then Ted told me, in a raised voice, not to raise my voice at him, and Rex, sensing another Wedding Argument, made himself small and crept off to the back room.
How lucky for all of us, then, to find the very thing we were looking for staggering toward us a few days later on East 82nd Street. Desiree was not staggering because she was drunk; rather, she was being lurched in seven different directions by three separate dogs. “Well, hot damn!” she shouted when she saw Rex. She came toward us with outstretched arms. Three mop-headed bearded collies wrapped around her as she walked, as if she were a Maypole. “Now that there’s a beautiful dog!” Desiree shouted. “What kind of a dog is he? I’ve never seen such a face.” She knelt down in front of Rex and began to coo. “I’m a dog walker,” she said to us. “In case you couldn’t tell. Actually I’m a writer. But I walk dogs on the side. This here’s George, Ringo and Paul.” Rex and the other dogs sniffed one another in that bored, city way, but then they became more animated once they started gossiping about us. Don’t ever let your humans get married, man, Rex was probably saying. She’s not a writer, the Beatles were probably saying. “And don’t even ask about John.”
But anyway. Desiree hailed from Texas, and she still carried within her the grand styles and large gestures of that ostentatious state. She was an attractive, even sexy woman in perhaps her sixties who wore flamboyant sunglasses, elaborate velvet skirts and cowboy boots. Her figure—tall and robust—was the kind lesser beings had to pay money for, and she wore a terrific red lipstick she told me was called “Slut.”