The Gryphon is beloved by dogs of all kinds.
Here, he shares a couch with Una and a friend's dog,
while my sister's dog, Emma, licks his face.
They call it a crush because that's what it does to you: turns your brain to jelly, pulverizes your sense. It grinds your bones to powder so you can't even walk straight.
What other explanation could there be for the foolish things I've done in the name of love? The middle-school notes left in a boy's locker, "Do you love me, yes or no?" For me, they always circled "or." The friendships I endangered with true-love confessions. The time I enticed a fellow college radio station volunteer into the record library so I could read to him what I now realize was an obsessive, dark love poem.
In all those cases, I was in the throes of a crush. The end result was to have my exposed heart squashed, my ego smashed, my hopes popped like a water balloon. Afterwards, you can't help but feel a bit like a beached jellyfish: a glistening mess filled with grit, praying for the tide to sweep in and suck you back into merciful, watery oblivion.
But the miracle of it all is this: the tide does come in. The heart regrows. Bones refasten. As unlikely as it may seem, we come back into ourselves. The frail seeds of love, sprinkled on the heart in winter, take root and bloom into unabashedly wild roses.
I'm reminded of this quote from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream:
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worse place can I beg in your love --
And yet a place of high respect with me --
Than to be used as you use your dog?
To understand this analogy, you need only look at our dog, Una. She is hopelessly smitten with my husband, The Gryphon.
Over the weekend, her usual affection, combined with a cabin fever caused by 72 solid hours of rain, bloomed into obsession. Whenever we were home, she sat at his feet, staring at him with a hopeful smile. He tried his best to make her happy: taking her outside for frequent potty breaks, feeding her at meal times.
Finally, in exasperation, he declared, "I don't know what she wants."
"She wants to come up on the couch and put her head in your lap," I told him. "And probably kiss your face."
"There's no room. I'm working." He was combining forces with two co-workers to launch an update on a client's Web site and was using his mouse on the cushion next to him.
But Una would not give up, staring at him with eyes that said, "I lurrv you!" No matter how many times he told her to go lie down on her dog bed, she kept coming back, eager and hopeful. One day, she knew, she would get to sit next to him and kiss his face.
Finally, when he had finished his work, The Gryphon invited her onto the couch. Instead of giving him one kiss and curling into a happy ball, she showered him with puppy kisses and then sat staring lovingly into his face.
I petted her and told her: "Calm down, Una. He's really here, and he really loves you." At last, she sighed contentedly and lay down between us.
It's OK, I wanted to tell her. I know exactly how that feels.
Now I know why they call it puppy love.