Gaston is a gourmand

My dad is convinced that Gaston — my brother Matt’s French Bulldog that looks and sounds like a pig but really, truly is a dog — is a gourmand. You read that right: a gourmand. I had to look that up in the dictionary just now to make sure there are no other, less-familiar meanings to that word that I was not aware of.

Daddy meant it like he said it: Gaston is a gourmand — not just a food lover but a pleasure-seeking sensualist at that. And that’s not all. If, heaven forbid, one day Gaston were to become human, he would most likely be nothing less than a gentleman, at the dining table especially, with impeccable manners to boot.

I have no reason to disagree with my dad, perceptive man that he is. Now, I do not know the ways of dogs and I do not speak their language. It is nice having them around and I admit to feeling a measure of happiness when they wag their tails and smile at me (we have five dogs in the house, total) but I do not talk to them the way the husband and the father do. But even from the perspective of someone like me who knows very little about dogs, I do get where my dad is coming from.

The usual setting is the kitchen, where we take most of our meals. Gaston, having the gentlest demeanor and being the second smallest of the brood of five, is the only one allowed to spend his days inside the house (he sleeps in Matt’s room at night). He hangs out quietly with us while we eat, as if he were a member of the family, and every now and then it is not unusual to hear someone at the table talk to him as if he were human. He is greeted with “Hi,” asked if he has eaten or if he likes what we are about to eat, and is handed a chunk of good meat or juicy bone. But — and this is the gourmand part — instead of wolfing it down and lustily going after it as if it were his last meal (the way most other dogs are wont to do), Gaston does the whole nine yards of savoring it with all of his senses. If he were human, he would easily be one of those who enjoy long meals, and who knows, maybe even longer conversations.

As you place the meat before him, he looks at it gingerly. Then he pokes it with his nose a few times, sniffing it and turning it over (the first time I saw him do this I was half-expecting him to get a notebook and write down notes). Then he starts licking it — yes, licking it, the way we would a lollipop or ice cream in a cone, pausing in between, before taking these little bites, after which he chews slowly and noiselessly. If it’s a bone, he will even carry it across to the living room where he will enjoy it for many hours on end. Should he, sometime during the meal, still want some more he will not bark obnoxiously, or throw a tantrum, or wet my foot with his tongue. Instead, he will gently ask for more by nudging my leg slowly, every now and then, looking up at me with his sad eyes until I finally give in. Even when I make him wait just to test his patience he does not get agitated, or angry. Neither does he pretend to walk away. He just stays there, constantly, as if to tell me that he will always choose to be my friend even if I do not give him what he wants, when he wants it. This amazes me about him, so much that even if he does not have a handsome face, he is always beautiful in my eyes. And yes, I always give him seconds.

I talk about Gaston this way because today, as I looked at him being the gourmand that he is, he taught me a lesson in patience. I’ve been exasperated about the slow progress of certain projects, tired of that kind of waiting that stretches much too long, like the blackout after a really bad typhoon or a wife waiting for her OFW husband to finally come home; a waiting that makes me feel like a child in the ‘80s all over again — that period when you couldn’t wait to grow up and find yourself in the ‘90s, knowing full well that that signals when you will finally be allowed to wear eyeliner and pop your head in the foggy disco for a few precious hours before you have to finally make it home to beat your 10 p.m. curfew. All this time wasted waiting. January was just here and just as suddenly as it came, it went away. Where did it go? Hello, February. I still have some of my Christmas decorations up. I just know that February, destined to be ever so short, will fly by just as quickly. Of course it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the rest of the months will roll by summarily as well. Hay naku. 

So. There is all this waiting, and waiting, and waiting… for something, many things. Maybe what I am waiting for will come to pass, maybe not, perhaps it will but in some other shape or form. Tired of all the waiting you fall asleep at day’s end, knowing full well that tomorrow is another day, where again you pick up where you left off, and continue.

Come to think of it, we are all waiting, just for different things, but always for something. We are all the same in that. When the going gets tough it can feel like promises are made just because it is a convenient way of closing conversations and ending meetings or sometimes — and this is the worst — as if God put your list on a shelf and forgot about it, which makes you reassess what you are waiting for: does it still fall under the category of a prayer request or will it now take a miracle?

But right this very moment, I’m thinking that’s just what it is — a feeling. It does not have to be bad or good, it’s just a feeling. And the more I remember that not everything is up to me, the easier it becomes to accept what is. Keeping the attitude of the heart healthy: that is what I must work at while all this waitingis what is happening. Maybe no matter how slowly people move, how things progress at a turtle’s pace, I just have to trust that there are changes shaping up already here and there that I just can’t see yet and that I have to be patient because at the right time it will all unfold beautifully.

Times like these, I remember how Daddy described Gaston. Taking my cue from this four-legged member of our family, I will wait gently like it is some special stew or brew that just gets better with time and good intentions. And instead of rushing off to the next dream still waiting to happen, I will enjoy what is on my plate, right here and right now, licking it to the bone, rolling and playing with it, as if I were a child left to play with my favorite toy. That way, by the time it does come along (and it will, it really will), all the waiting I have already done will not have felt so long.


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