Tuesday Nov 05, 2002

The Man with the Dog

“Sir, are you the man with the dog?” said the pretty airline representative.

She resembled Sally Field when she had starred as the perky Flying Nun in the old TV series. We were standing near the lounge seats closest to the boarding gate. The ground crew was cleaning and refueling the plane.

I’m wary when certain people call me, Sir.

“My name is Axel,” I said.

“Mister Axel,” she said.

“No. Axel is my first name.”

She held a printout of passenger names and scanned the list. “Mister Lent, Sir ?”

“Axel,” I said.

She forced a smile.

It was four o’clock in the afternoon in Kansas City, my stopover from Los Angeles to Newark. A few people had plopped down their carry on bags and took seats in the waiting area.

“Yes, I am the man with the dog,” I admitted. I was dog-tired, but no accidental tourist. Larry, my five-pound Yorkshire Terrorist, was asleep in the nylon tote on the seat in front of me. He was a good traveler born of urbane breeding.

“Where is the dog, Sir?” she said, her pert self turning curt.

Axel. Mister Lent. Axel Lent. Call me anything but Sir. It was hopeless. Sir, as my art mentor had pointed out to me, can have an unpleasant and nasty edge.

I had left the tote loosely cinched so Larry could breathe. As if on cue, Larry awoke, stuck his cute face up, nose sniffing, brown eyes darting and sparkling through his dark bangs in the bright lights of the terminal. He resembled a miniature and debonair Ewok, the bear-like creature from the Star Wars film: The Empire Strikes Back.

The airline attendant stared at Larry in the flimsy nylon tote, then lifted her eyes. I was now the object of her suspicion.

An odd grimace formed on her otherwise pleasant Flying Nun face.

“Would you please wait here, Sir,” she said. “I have to call my supervisor.”

“Yes,” I said, feeling more numb than calm.

As “Sally” rushed off, a beautiful blonde woman dressed in expensive clothing, possibly au couture, ran up to me. The blonde kept checking her watch like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who was late for a very important date.

“Is there a Starbucks in this god-forsaken airport?” said the high-strung blonde.

I shrugged, then looked around. “That could be one there,” I said, pointing to a Starbucks signature green-type awning in the distance.

The fidgety blonde turned on her stiletto heels and peered toward the awning. Before taking off into the din of the terminal, she took a breath of relief and said, “Thanks and what a cute doggie, too.”

A caffeine rush sounded luxurious. I was beat. Starbucks beckoned. I was ready to follow the fashionable blonde for a cappuccino, but the zealous airline gal was detaining me.

I was the man with the dog.»

Note: If you would like to read the complete story, read The Man with the Dog in the writing section inside the main site gallery.

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