Saturday, August 15, 2015

Multnomah Days Parade

Mom had been singing the Michael Jackson song “Thriller” unwittingly to the tune of “Beat it” all morning in an attempt to get me jazzed about the Multnomah Days Parade. When I asked her why in the world I would want to march in a parade, her answer sounded like one of those sentimental slogans you might find on a Japanese Dollar Store notebook encircled by cartoon rainbows and hamsters. “To make a beautiful memory that you will cherish always,” she said. Drinking my coffee, I wrote a to-do list, reminding myself to go to the bank and to return library books. When she saw I left out “March in the parade,” she made a point of penciling that in for me, a tad indignant that I had seemingly forgotten this important task.

Mom in her Wishbone apron.

For the “Pooch Parade” segment of the parade, she donned a canine-themed apron bearing colorful paw prints. A portrait of the 90’s children’s dog celebrity, Wishbone, was plastered across the apron’s front like a shield’s coat of arms. Ordinarily, she wears this apron for unsuccessful training sessions with our rambunctious dog just so she can easily dispense treats from the front pocket and because, well, she really likes Wishbone. Our dog is not well-trained and to her this apron does not signify anything but a pocket full of infinite treats. This is all the more reason for her to jump around excitedly and spin in circles around my mom, getting both Mom and dog tangled up in the leash.

We walked to the staging area, a place cordoned off by several fire trucks, where I had to reel in Matilda’s leash so she wouldn’t jump on costumed dogs. Matilda was one of the few dogs not wearing a costume and I had a feeling she felt disdain for the other dogs in their silly tutus and Superman getups. One dog was dressed as a pumpkin and placed on a homemade float surrounded by jack-o-lantern pails. He was pulled along the parade route like royalty, looking very handsome and dignified.

It was just like any ordinary dog walk, only with people cheering as we passed. Several dog walkers tossed candy to children watching the parade. One guy was inexperienced at tossing out candy and just dumped the contents of an entire bag of candy on the side of the road. At the end of the parade, police officers handed out free ice cream. I ate an ice cream sandwich and sat on a curb while Matilda contemplated two police horses. Nearby a Great Dane stared down a man dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier as he attempted to eat his ice cream sandwich without sharing.

Later, I took my academic degrees to my bank to have them notarized. I swear I had done this before, and luckily, the handsome Iranian bank teller was willing to help me, even though he explained that this requirement of the Turkish government for foreign teachers was not one of their normal procedures. He had a signature like a sultan and a very Persian name, which came on a personalized stamp that he used to emboss my form. It looks official to me and getting this form was one of the last things I had to do before jetting off to Istanbul tomorrow.

My to-do list finished with a trip to the Lake Oswego dog park, where there are actually two dog parks: one for shy, timid dogs and the other for active dogs. My dog is definitely active so she happily joined all the other big, goofy dogs.

I think if were a dog, I would belong in the park for shy, timid dogs, or more accurately, for introverted, meditative dogs. Last week, I had to practice the art of saying no to people, because I just couldn’t make plans to see everybody. One guy said, “It’s cool. There’s no bad blood between us,” but by his tone and body language, I could tell that there was bad blood between us, at least as far as he was concerned. I have to remember that people’s egos and the way they choose to respond to “I’m sorry, I’m too busy to hang out” has nothing to do with me and to remember that I really don’t need for everyone to like me. Sometimes you just have to turn people down.

My closest friends know I am an introvert because most of them are introverted too. I once walked to my friend Judith’s house, where we enjoyed light conversation followed by a peaceful nap on her parallel couches. I think only the closest friends can get together and just sleep. Today I noticed people out walking for Shabbat and I thought what a brilliant idea it is to have a day of rest. No marching in parades, no bothering to get together with people who waited till the last minute before you leave to try to make plans, no errands to the bank. Just rest.

That sounds like a beautiful memory I could cherish always. 

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