The Charlie Bravo Story

Aunt Geneva

Happy Charlie Bravo Day!

There’s three types of people on this planet: people who don’t like dogs, people who like the idea of dogs(unfortunately, this is the largest group), and then there’s “dog people”. These are MY type of people. These are people who somehow connect with dogs on a molecular level but cannot explain how, they just “do”; there is no try.

And then there’s my Aunt Ginnie. She is easily one of the classiest, most cultured, people I know, a retired executive secretary for one of the most prestigious companies in the United States, as well as a master gardener. She has also been a gourmet cook for as long as I can remember, although this was not always a selling point with me when I was a child. A regular PB&J was never on the menu back then, and you never knew what surprise lay in wait at her table.

An example: I was probably 10 or 12, and my cousin Brian and I were spending a couple of weeks at Aunt Ginnie’s. As an appetizer at one of her multi-course meals was orange jello with whipped cream on top, at least that’s what it was disguised as.

Have your taste buds every been totally committed to experiencing one thing only to find it was another totally opposite thing? Well, I’m sure that you have deduced by now that the appetizer was not orange jello with whipped cream, but was instead a “delicacy” known as consomme’….

Basically, chilled beef broth with sour cream on top.

Even now, sour cream is only a half step below cottage cheese on Bret’s SSOTGTMMY(Sliding Scale of Things Guaranteed to Make Me Yark), so I can only imagine what it did to my 10 year old self. I’m pretty sure that I hurled so hard my shoelaces came up.

So, what does this have to do with dogs? For all her culture and class, Aunt Ginnie has always had a phobia of dogs. Everybody has their aversions; some people are afraid of spiders, I happen to fear anything with the word “curd” on the packaging.

But, no matter where we are in life, we can all continue to learn to face our fears. At a recent family reunion, I brought Charlie along for the ride. As anybody that has been around the Charles knows, she is usually an obnoxious, mouthy, self centered diva, not fit for polite society.

But she also somehow knows when to dial it back. I’ve seen her do it when attending Special Olympics, when she’s around someone who has somehow been injured, she just “knows” and calms right down. And it has absolutely nothing to do with me, as she pays as much attention to my commands as she would a stump.

But this was one of those times. I have never seen Charlie so sedate and dignified, and then the miraculous happened: for the first time in her life, Aunt Ginnie voluntarily touched a dog. And not just any dog, but a pit bull(!) mix. I have never been more proud of both of them, reaching out of their crate.

It’s never too late to unlearn old habits, cast aside old fears and experience new things.

But I’m still never eating consomme’, sour cream, or cottage cheese…

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