Strange Everyday Happenings

Driving down La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles the other day, I slowed the car upon noticing a Bird-riding boy attempting to cross the busy avenue. When he saw me cruising to a stop, instead of advancing toward the sidewalk, where he was headed, he changed his mind, pointed the scooter toward the front of the car instead, and looked me straight in the eye, coming to a full stop before casually rolling away to the curb. I turned to look at my husband, who sat in the passenger seat, and we exchanged a look of incomprehension at this kid’s defiance and desire to play with danger. One skinny runt daring 3000 lbs. of metal to hit him.

We kept going, shaking our heads, discussing the strange, slow-motion tableau we’d happened into. Two blocks later, I reduced our speed once more, this time to see about the commotion at the intersection. Right there, flashing red lights, an ambulance, and concerned bystanders converged on nothing less than a smashed up Bird shoved over to the sidewalk and a young rider splayed out, face-up, smack in the center of the street.

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A woman I know was trying very hard to reach me last week. This is someone who lives in a very poor part of the world. We’re not close, but we’re in regular contact because my husband and I pay for her child’s education. Why? It’s not a short story; let’s just say we like her child. The woman and her family live in a very remote part of the country where she lives, and cell phone communication is a bear. When we manage to speak, it’s a miracle. I’ve asked her to text me instead, as those messages usually make it through. But here she was, dialing my number over and over for days, even though the call dropped every time I answered. Finally, around the 30th time she tried, I was able to hear her voice, and here’s how the conversation went after I assured her that I was fine, that my husband was fine, and that all was fine with the world.

“What’s going on? Why have you been trying so hard to reach me?”

“Would you like a baby?” She said.

“What are you talking about? I said.

She giggled.

“Would you like a baby?”

“What in the world are you talking about?”

“You don’t want a baby?” She said.

Now I’m annoyed. This is the middle of my workday, I’m busy.

“No, I don’t want a baby. Why are you asking me this?”

And then it hits me.

“Are you pregnant?”

“Seven months.”

OMG. I had no idea.

“But the last time we spoke, you told me you had to send your daughter to school on an empty stomach! How are you going to manage a new baby? Why aren’t you using protection?”

“So you don’t want a baby?” She said.

“No,” I said. “I’m 62 years old. I do not want a baby.”

“OK, then,” she said, obviously disappointed. “Say hello to your husband,” she added before hanging up.

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We recently had to make the tough decision of putting our beloved dog Tulip to sleep. She was 14 years old, and walking around the house like a ghost looking for a place to belong in this physical world. There is a fine line between “taking care of our seniors” and keeping them around because we can’t let go. She had become preternaturally skinny and the blood test results indicated a litany of issues — from cancer to brain tumor to kidney failure, and that was just for starters.

After much anguish and gnashing of teeth, we made the appointment, and took her into the little room, where the vet explained that he would first administer a heavy sedative that would make her feel really good. It took one second. Her eyes registered surprise before succumbing to the intense desire for sleep. He next injected her with the lethal dose that gave her life force permission to seep from her physical body back to the limitless energetic realm, which scientists tell us was never created and cannot be destroyed. Where that little girl’s energy goes next is part of the Great Mystery.

The vet put his hand over her eyes to close them, but they insisted on remaining open. I strained to see what might still be there, but all there was was peace.

RIP, Tulip.

Carine is the author of six fiction and nonfiction books, and a longtime contributor to Huffpost, writing on issues of lifestyle, the arts, politics, and more.