The wife and I will sometimes finish off our evening falling asleep on the couch watching Family Feud. It’s 9PM and already pretty close to my bedtime anyway. Sometimes I make it to the end of the show. Sometimes not.
We tried out for Family Feud one time. Put on clean clothes. Drove up to Atlanta and went inside some downtown warehouse looking building. Wondering through hallways under construction and finally got to a space set up for auditions. Full size pop up banners of Steve Harvey around the room.
We were coached on how to act excited. We pretended there were buzzers and answered questions. High fives everywhere. I thought we snarled at the other family real nice. But we didn’t get the call to appear on the show.
So, the other night, one of the questions was this: “If you were dog sitting, what might you be afraid would happen with the dog?”
Run away. Get sick. Chew up the furniture.
One answer got my attention: “He might die.”
My mind immediately went to a story that my oldest daughter had told me several years ago. It took place in New York City. She said a friend of a friend of a friend had told it to her. Which is not hard to believe that she might know someone associated with the Big Apple. Her passport has more stamps in it than James Bond’s.
In fact, she got held up at the Canadian border one time because her passport was interesting to the Officer checking on such things. What’s a girl from Georgia doing in places like Amsterdam and Dubai? Why would she be in Canada for just a couple of days? But I digress.
Some stories are true. Some are fairy tales. But some are legend.
It was supposed to be a quiet night of dog sitting for a neighbor. Julia had done this a hundred times. The neighbors go out of town for a couple days. She stays home with the dog for hire. He’s friendly. Quiet. Less trouble than the Jones’ two little monsters that she sits with sometimes.
She settles into the big couch for a Brad Pitt movie. The dog wonders off to the kitchen to nibble at his food dish. He doesn’t care for Brad Pitt like she does.
Two hours later she realizes that she hasn’t seen the dog for a while. No panic. He’s probably asleep behind the couch. Not there. She goes to the kitchen and there he lays on the tile floor. An odd place for him to take a nap. She calls to him. He doesn’t move. She nudges him with her foot. He doesn’t respond. She gets nervous.
Then she notices that his eyes are open. He is cold to the touch. And she about loses her mind. Panic sets in. “What the heck am I going to do?”
She calls the owners and has to repeat herself several times because she is so hysterical. The words keep coming out all jumbled up.
“Look, Julia. Calm down. Oscar was old. You didn’t do anything wrong. We can help you take care of things.”
“Take care of things! What does that mean. I’ve never had to deal with a dead dog before.”
“Call our Vet. His card is on the fridge. He’ll tell you what to do.”
This is just too crazy. The last thing Julia wants to think about tonight is having to deal with an apparent canine cardiac arrest.
She calls the Vet. Good thing in the city they have an all-night emergency service, right? She explains her situation. She tells him who the owner is and that he said to call.
“That’s fine M’am. Just bring him to us and we’ll take care of everything.”
“What? Bring him to you?” If only Brad Pitt were here. He’d know what to do.
Julia doesn’t have a car, so she’ll have to take public transportation. She pictures her and poor Oscar on the Metro Bus at 11:00 at night? That can’t possibly work. So, she digs in the closet and finds a suitcase large enough for Oscar and stuffs him inside. One with wheels. Oscar probably weighs like 60 pounds.
By the time she walks to the corner bus stop, she is breathing so hard her arms are shaking uncontrollably. She gets on the bus, lugging her suitcase up the steps. There’s only three people on the bus. Another girl who looks like she just got off work at the restaurant. Her. And a guy, who is watching her struggle with the suitcase.
He offers to help. “Where’re you headed tonight?” he asks. “This suitcase weighs a ton. What you got in there, bricks?”
How does she answer this? You can’t say to a perfect stranger that you’re carrying around a dead dog in a suitcase. She might get thrown off the bus. She doesn’t want anyone to think she’s weird or something.
“I know. I didn’t think it would be this heavy. I’m just taking some of my grandmother’s things over to my Mom’s house.”
Seemed like a good cover. The guy shook his head and looked away. She picked up a magazine on the seat and pretended to read.
Then it happened. Two stops later as they got closer into town, when the doors on the bus opened, they guy across the aisle grabbed the suitcase and ran off into the night.
Stories of legendary status capture the imagination. King Arthur and Oscar the dog, in my book, are in the same category. Totally believable. Incredibly fascinating. But hardly ever completely true.
When I first heard this story, I nearly got the bends laughing so hard. I could see it all. I even finished the story in my own head of what happened to the guy on the bus when he opened the suitcase. You’re expecting Grandma’s silver collection and you get Oscar the dog.
I did a little research. This particular urban legend has been around for over 30 years. The city changes. The name and type of dog changes. But the story is always basically the same.
And now you have it. Let the legend live on.