I don’t believe in omens. I can walk under ladders while a parade of black cats cross my path, if that’s what you want me to. I can break mirrors all the doo-dah day without a care. In other words, I do not consider myself a superstitious person.
However. Yet. Although. But. When thing are going too well…I cannot help thinking something is sure to go amiss. And if you should happen to call my attention to how well they are going, I will likely respond (silently or aloud) with the yiddish incantation poo poo poo, which, loosely translated means don’t give me the evil eye by calling attention to it. Or, as we say, “Don’t give me a kinehora!” In Italy, it’s called malocchio, the evil eye, and in Turkey it’s nazar, but it all comes down to a belief that calling attention to wonderful things threatens them. I think it is related to the Greek concept of hubris, in which excessive pride or confidence inevitably leads to a downfall. There are amulets to ward off the evil eye, but no one has quite figured out how to eradicate the belief within ourselves that if things go too well, it means sometime soon (imminently, dangerously) it will go badly. The worm will turn. The other shoe will drop. Of this, I am an unwilling believer.
So, I rescued a dog on Friday. After a long, seemingly fruitless search, and some sudden twists and turns, I found beautiful Steffi, a 13 pound, 3 year old Maltese (and maybe terrier) dog. She’s white with touches of pink, and she doesn’t shed, making her “hypoallergenic” and her coat is softer than feathers. I went to see her at the spca. They said that she had been returned from a previous adoption days earlier because she was too shy and was hiding from her new family and wouldn’t eat, so they warned me to approach her cautiously. But within five minutes, she was reaching her paw to me, and by the end of the day, we were home. She explored the house adorably, and found her “spots,” including next to me, snuggled against me on the sofa. She did not eat that first day. But she slept in the little bed I had for her. The next morning, she ate out of my hand, and by the second day, she let me put the food from my hand to the feeding dish. She is housebroken and walks beautifully on a leash. We had a great walk, and she lounges behind me as I write. She is a perfect little dog. So what could go wrong? All day, as I took congratulatory phone calls from friends and family for my good luck in finding her, I could feel the self-congratulation slowly curdling into something like a certainty that it couldn’t, could it? Would it last?
That’s when my friend, J, stopped by to meet Steffi, and this sweet, gentle, quiet little dog found her voice. And what a fierce one it was! She started barking and growling at J as she drove up, and kept at it when J came into the house. It took a while for her to settle down and it reminded me that this little dog has been through who-knows-what? in her young life. And now she is ready to protect her new turf, and me. So we’re going to have to work on it, together.
No one and nothing is perfect. And honestly, that’s a relief. At least I won’t have to wonder when the other shoe will drop because it just did.