We were going to spend a weekend away.
John had booked it, had made all the arrangements. We drove north on the 101, past Santa Barbara, towards Shell Beach on the central coast. I knew the hotel was dog-friendly. I had been there a couple of months before with Lycke, our Danish au pair, and we’d taken my dog, Jethro.
So now Jethro was along in the back of my Jeep. It was raining, cold and dark, and he was whining in the back of the car the whole way there, more than three hours of driving. I pulled over several times to see if he needed to pee or something, but never got a squirt out of him.
I have two big dogs, mastiffs; this one is my love: he’s a skittish rescue who is needy and completely attached to me.
The dog’s whining was making John irritable and nervous. I was extremely tired, actually exhausted.
I had broken up with John months before and had briefly dated another guy, and this trip was one of those last spasms that relationships go through as they die. It was supposed to be the big romantic get-back-together weekend, in a beach hotel on the central coast with the dog along. I think John may even have brought along the diamond ring he ended up giving me when he asked me to marry him a week later over lunch at Ocean Seafood in Santa Monica, when I took the ring and said I would think about it. I didn’t have the heart to say no right there in the restaurant with the waiters and the other patrons watching, although it infuriated me he’d put me on the spot like that.
I drove to his house the following day and said thank you for asking, I wanted you to so desperately for so long and I’m sorry I have changed my mind. I don’t want to be married to you.
We finally arrived at the hotel in Shell Beach at least an hour late because of the rain and traffic. Jethro was being neurotic and afraid of the doors, the hallways and the walls. At home he’s a gentle giant that mostly resembles a black lab on steroids, but out of his element this jet-black, 110-pound growling dog was pretty ferocious. Room service was out of the question.
We had double massages booked, which we were now late for, but they were kind enough to wait for us. When we got back to our room the heat had kicked in, the room was warm and inviting, and the dog was sleeping peacefully on the sofa.
John wanted to take a bath in the oversized raised tub in the middle of the room. I was hungry and needed food. He, disgruntled, agreed to walk across to the restaurant next door for some dinner. I sneezed, and my eyes had that burning sensation when I closed them that signals a fever is about to arrive.
We ate in silence. Not angry silence, just the kind of silence that happens when the one who usually carries the conversation, doesn’t. I think he was irritated with me: for not feeling well, like I had ruined his plans, the whining dog, being late for the massages, me needing food rather than sex; and he had no way to deal with his disappointment.
Back at the room after dinner, I woke Jethro, fed him dinner, and took him out to pee.
When I started really sneezing and coughing, it became obvious that I was getting sick.
John ran the hot water for a bath and insisted I get in. The water made me feel soft, warm and tired, mellow and sleepy. I crawled into bed, wanting to sleep until morning.
He started pawing at me. I knew he wasn’t going to stop. I was not into him, not feeling romantic at all. I let him get on top, figuring he could knock himself out and then he’d leave me alone to sleep.
Jethro, who was snoring loudly, wakes up, thinks he’s been invited to the party, and jumps on the bed, mounting John from behind.