The Charlie Bravo Story

Gotcha Charlie 2024

Nine years ago tomorrow, Charlie and I met on the side of a lonesome highway, and it’s been quite a trip since then.It’s both funny and tragic; Charlie is slowing down physically, but mentally she is still The Queen.
In an effort to ensure altitude sickness on my part, Mom has recently put risers under the feet of the casa del cama. And as it’s a bit higher than Charlie prefers, some nights she expresses her displeasure by sulking away to the spare bedroom to sleep with Titus. But many nights, I’ll feel the bed move; it’s not an earthquake, but Charlie hunching her big black butt against the bed whilst giving me the side-eye over her shoulder; c’mon Dad, get with the program!
You would think that a simple invitation would be enough for Her Highness, but if you did think that, you would be wrong. Her act is my sign to get up and offer to lift her up on the bed. She will act so pathetic, making multiple small, feeble attempts at scaling such lofty heights. But she will absolutely refuse any help, instead circling away from me juuuust out of reach until she finds a spot that she percieves to be just a fraction of an inch lower. Only then does she launch her massive bulk into orbit, only to obstinately splash down directly into the spot where I had been sleeping.
And yes, we do have a ramp onto the bed, but it’s primary use is as a playground slide when Jude spends the night. Charlie views it as an admission of her advancing age and absolutely refuses to use it, much like a human would delay getting hearing aids or a quad cane with the tell-tale tennis balls on the feet.
But it’s not the height of the bed that is at issue here, but Charlie’s decision to exert her dominance. Some version of this scenario has been carried out in literally hundreds of different locations over the last nine years; tent camping across the southwest. The back of an SUV in Taos. 1960’s era classic motels in New Mexico that still sport neon signs, wagonwheel headboards and dark paneling. Vanabonding somewhere out in Bryce Canyon. Camping in the bottom of the Rio Grande Gorge, the cliffs soaring hundreds of feet above us. No matter the location, her motive is always the same; to be as dramatic as possible about securing the prime sleeping area, wherever that may be.
Then there ensues an extended period of face-licking. I cannot count the times that I have determined to outlast her, but the results are inevitable as well: a slimy face and a soaked pillow. I inevitably have to say “no mas!”, once again admitting her position as Queen.
Aye, fight and I may die. Run, and I’ll live — at least a while. And alone in my bed many years from now, would I be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell my adversary that she may take my bed, but she will never take my freedom!!!
Sorry; I just couldn’t resist using the “Braveheart” battle speech here. But the two situations, although centuries apart, are oddly similar: one man, vastly outmatched and vulnerable, standing steadfast in the face of overwhelming forces. This pretty much describes my life with Charlie Bravo from her very first night at the Casa, way back in hallowed antiquity, when Hannibal faced the barbarian hordes…
Oops, there I go again, off on another tangent; I fear my own mind may be slipping as well.
Happy Gotcha Day, Charlie!

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