It was a good day for a dog walk and a good place to be walking an invisible dog. “Spenard” was where I was told I belonged when I landed in a Mountainview hostel in 1997. I have lived in a duplex apartment on the Valley of the Moon edge of Spenard for twelve years with a spinning carousel of roommates, some of whom move up and down and some of whom are of the more staid chariot types. We have all mourned not being able to have a dog in our house. We have hidden guest dogs from our landlord at times but have always been found out when the need to find a tree became clear. And so I adopted Bark McGee, an albino, six foot long, 6 inch tall dachhund.
I would like to thank #MimeSpenard for the opportunity to show Bark the light of day. He has been a housedog, licking up cheap pork grease, spilled granola and discarded body parts, (mostly hair and fingernails), for too long. I felt it important to dress well when taking a dog like Bark on a big adventure. We are both long so I opted for stripes. I cut open one of those tubular striped cotton blend scarves and slid him in clipping out holes for his legs and found some complementary striped apparel for myself. I applied some face paint to make myself look even paler to match his complexion and also to prevent more age spots. Note to self: Next time bring the face paint to the hairline so I don’t get an oval of sunburn framing said face.
Here I am.
One of my friends noted, “You look like a young Florence Henderson.” That was enough to make me decide to take Bark out next week as well. Without makeup I am usually compared to the late, great James Cromwell, otherwise known as the farmer in Babe.
Here is Bark.
Here are some of our adventures.
It was Sunday and hot. The first people I saw, barely, as I was not wearing my glasses, were calling to us from across the street.
” Archie! Archie”, they called. A guy biked over and asked if I was Archie. I shook my head and he explained that Archie was a really tall Native friend of his who was going to be a mime. He patted Bark.
His friends yelled over, “I told you that wasn’t Archie.”
The gentleman on the bike asked me again. I sort of mimed that I had the curves of a woman but then realized that Archie could just as easily have these. The biker’s pals on the bench patted Bark when we greeted them and we walked on. This was the first time that I noticed that Spenard has virtually no trees. The only thing that saves Spenard from being Muldoon is that it curves around quite a bit in remembrance of its farming past. Although once I saw a youngster wearing a “Straight out of Muldoon” tee shirt and realized that Muldoon would not be as forgiving a place to walk an invisible dog.
I walked past the windows of the Northern Lights mall and saw some joyous toddlers running towards me. Then one stopped and screamed, one of those long, loud screams like they pay you to do in the movies. The father shook his head and tried to explain the concept of an invisible dog to him. This did not help. I scooted by.
We ambled past the Spenard Road House and took in the very nonchalant crowd who barely looked up from their cell phones to greet us. I took this as an existential warning. Never check or post to social media when in public. Photo taking is okay but remember you are not a movie star, no one really cares about your changing hair or what you ate as much as you do. Enough said.
We had the most fun meeting bicyclists and other dogs. Bark, like any high spirited pup, lunges at fast moving objects and living things. I had to restrain him unless we got permission to meet and greet. The bicyclists are very thankful that you have restrained your animal and the dogs, of course are delighted to check out the smells of another collared creature.
Next stop was The Bike Shop where the helpful staff aided me in purchasing some grips without me so much as opening my mouth. We decided to follow the detour linking Northern Lights to Benson since that part of Spenard was unearthed. I remembered that I needed some Linseed oil so we stopped in at Blaines. What a wonderful source of artistic inspiration for Spenard. I have visited many times but have never caught the café open, even the drinks looked inspiring. I have yet to save my money for the water based oil paints so linseed oil it is.
It was indeed getting hot so we crossed over Benson to the pawn shop and took in the air conditioning and fine selection of inexpensive dvds. There was a nice keyboard for $59 but I did not bring a credit card. That was probably all for the best. A mom kept encouraging her daughter to come over and greet Bark but she was having nothing of it. That’s okay, Bark is not too sensitive. He embodies the ideal of giving without expecting to receive and taking nothing personally. One has to be like that when one is an extra long invisible hot dog.
Up ahead, in front of a lonely parking lot, I spied an entrepreneur selling lemonade. I could hardly restrain my measured mime footfalls. I believe I was her first customer and she took my speechlessness in stride. Real thirst trumps miming beverages and so I marched on until coming upon another speechless soul who appeared to need a beverage as well. This Spenardian was beautiful beyond belief but with ethereal nature which may be the result of hunger and addiction. She had take out food and sat on a shaded curb to eat. It was then I noticed the nature of the takeout, from the universal street side distributer. I backtracked for more lemonade to help her digest her feast. It was gratefully received and I moved on.
We next took a trip to the wild side by stopping in at Dankorage where we were most graciously carded. They had a great card game called “Drunk, Stoned or Stupid” that I will have to return to buy. It’s the first pot shop I’ve been in which actually had edibles in stock but once again I was lucky not to have a credit card handy.
On our way home we stopped in at Anchorage House of Hobbies where we were kindly directed to the upstairs where there were even more fascinating items for sale. The children downstairs were more interested in mechanicals then dogs so with some effort we negotiated the stairs and fell in love once more with Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots.
Last stop of the day was a yard sale where the proprietor insisted I wait while he got his camera which was somewhere in the house. Meanwhile the proprietress insisted that I was going to charge him for taking a photo because “That’s how mimes make a living.” I begged to disagree and had her take a photo of me with my camera instead. Meanwhile a boy in diapers tumbled out of another garage to greet Bark. He approached, Bark approached, he retreated, Bark retreated. Finally I had to pick up Bark and exchange licks to convince him that Bark was really sweet.
Me and Bark at the sale.
Please ignore the shadow. The sun does not know how to deal with invisible dogs.
Our last real Spenardian encounter was back at the bus bench where our previous bicycled acquaintance pulled up and asked if I wanted to share his edibles. I politely declined fearing that their might be sexual strings attached but mimed an empty stomach instead.
On a high note as it were, we travelled home via Westchester Lagoon where one little girl demanded that Bark sit, beg and rollover and Bark got to interact with many of his canine kind who are not very judgemental.
I learned on my trip that it would be fun to do this again with other owners of invisible dogs. Maybe we could go to the new dog park at Arctic & 30th! Despite the lack of trees, Spenard is beautiful because of its people, the beautiful sky and the lovely intersection of art and commerce. I hope that folks realize that even on a Sunday where backhoes and blockades sit upon the upturned earth like steel conquerors that Spenard still lives. Come and visit. Bring your imaginary guide dog who will free you from the fear of being a stranger in a strange land. Come with me next Sunday for another adventure. Meet at Hillcrest and Spenard at 12 noon or at the dog park on Arctic and 30th at 12:45.