Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nate is Revealed

Nate's strategy gradually became clear after we entered the stadium late Saturday afternoon, just as the sun disappeared behind the massive wall of bleachers that reached high above the football field. Thousands of people were scattered about, sitting in folding chairs and resting on picnic blankets and, for all we knew, one of these poor souls, or maybe even one of us, would be Nate's intended victim for the night.

The strategy was ingenious. Nate was disguised as a guide dog in training, wearing a smart jacket just like the 40 other dogs, mostly puppies, in attendance, while Cheryl and I played the part of trainers, though we had no detail knowledge(for the sake of deniability, I suppose) of the real plan, which we feared had serious consequence based on my encounter with the CIA agent who delivered Nate to us with such a serious face, as if he could scarcely believe that so much responsibility rested on this silly black lab puppy and whatever diabolical behavior had been programmed into his brain.

As the concert progressed, after some Dvorak and Tchaikovsky, I thought I might throw up waiting for the events to play out. Would it be a musical phrase that sets him off? Was he waiting for nightfall? And what was the plan, anyway? We had no idea. How would we get out of there? Meanwhile the other dogs sat and mostly behaved, while Nate barked and licked and generally brought attention to himself, something that we only later realized was just part of the plan. Brilliant.

This silliness continued, in one form or another, until just after nightfall when Nate became serious and still. The orchestra was playing Prokofiev, and then it struck me--of course, the CIA planning group would see this as a perfect irony. Just then Nate looked at me with his real eyes and grinned as if to say, "so you get it now?" Instinctively, I let go of his leash and he ran through the crowd quickly--just a silly dog, after all--and over to a bearded Slavic-looking man resting on a blanket with two young girls who appeared, in face and temperament, to be his real daughters. The man reached into Nate's coat and pulled out a tiny chip while the girls surrounded him with pets and hugs. It all happened in a second, and Nate came back.

Afterwards we went to Mitchell's Fish House for dinner and Nate, no longer under the pretence of his role, took a long nap at the table, not the least interested in our dinners, understandable for a dog used to eating in some of the finest cafes in Europe. Nate is off today on another mission, this time to Zurich, far away from the humid armpit we call Florida.


  1. Actually, Nate is attending the last few Grateful Dead reunion shows in California this week. The chip will be delivered there, and he will get another one. Then he's off to Zurich.

  2. Figures. Say hello to him and Garcia for me.