The story about my research group member brought back memories of a particular conversation Cheryl and I had. It was during this conversation that I realized how much I lala’d Abby and how attached I was to her.One day while we were standing at the hood, I was telling Cheryl a story about my cousin’s cousin, Timmy. Timmy is on my cousin’s dad’s side of the family and so was not a blood relative of mine.
Timmy, who is about 8 years older than me, grew up in a small town east of Raleigh, Knightdale. Back then, Knightdale was a sleepy country town dotted with tobacco fields and hog farms. It is now a growing and thriving Raleigh suburb and has all the amenities of such. It is actually easier for me, an east Raleigh inhabitant, to go shopping in Knightdale than it would be to go somewhere on Capital Boulevard or Crabtree Valley Mall. As a matter of fact, I just bought my new laptop at a Best Buy in Knightdale rather than anywhere in Raleigh. This is quite a turnaround for a town that did not even have a McDonalds 30 years ago. I felt sorry for my cousins because they had to go 10 miles into Raleigh for the nearest McDonalds. The only grocery store in town was an IGA that was in a building made of cinder blocks. The poor rascals didn’t even have a Piggly Wiggly.
Timmy had a rough edge to him. He has spent a few years in prison for a host of infractions ranging from petty crimes to 2nd degree murder. He has also battled addiction for most of his adult life. Despite his sordid past, Timmy is a likable and personable guy.
I told Cheryl as story about Timmy’s pet alligator. Who knows where the hell this guy got hold of such a creature. I’m sure it was a spontaneous act given about 2 seconds of thought about the long term implications of owning such a beast. Apparently Timmy took good care of the alligator as evidenced by the animal’s healthy growth. Timmy kept the gator in the bathtub, and I have no idea what he fed it. I wouldn’t be shocked if he fed the gator live animals such as mice or rabbits. Eventually the gator outgrew the bathtub, and Timmy had nowhere to keep the pet. If I had to guess wouldwhat his next move might have been, I would have thought he would have had an alligator BBQ or made himself some alligator skin shoes or belts. Or, I thought Timmy would have built a pen in the back to keep the gator, but that may have been too risky because a nosey neighbor may have seen it and turned him in. With a rap sheet like his, the last thing Timmy needed was another charge.
No, Timmy took the gator to a nearby pond and turned it loose. For those wondering, alligators are indigenous to NC but not this far inland, mostly in the eastern coastal areas in swampy areas. Once in a while, an alligator will make its way up a river up to the piedmont area during warmer times, but it is a little too cold for gators for them to thrive around here.
For some reason, I thought that was a funny story. My sense of humor can be quirky, sometimes warped. When I laughed after telling this story to Cheryl, Cheryl responded in a stern tone and admonished me for my attitude about this. She said “What if you were walking by a lake and an alligator jumped out and took your Baby Girl. You wouldn’t think it was funny when an alligator was released into a pond then!” I didn’t argue back. She did have a point.
What shocked me about her response was that at some point in one of our previous conversations I had referred to Abby as “Baby Girl”. I’m not butch or macho, but I’m not a sissy-boy nancing around talking baby-talk to anyone outside of my home about a dog. How or when this slipped out, I do not know, but I surely said it. In private, yeah I spoke to Abby in a singy-songy way or spoke to her in rhymes. But I’m a grown man and couldn’t believe I would talk that way in public.
In a later entry, I will list all the nicknames I had for the babies. At that point, I realized that Abby was more to me than a dog or even a pet. She was special to me and will always hold a special place in my heart.