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Monday, 20 July 2009

Elinor and her Dog Stud

By Celia Jones

My first summer at Berkeley, I moved to Burnham Hall, which had become co-ed. It was there I met my friend Elinor, the feisty girl I’d heard about earlier from my high school French teacher who knew her parents - both Berkeley French professors.

Elinor turned out to be a heavy-set girl with mousy, brown, straight hair, bad skin, a raucous laugh and welcoming smile, and I felt an immediate affinity to her. It seemed such a coincidence that that summer she would be living in the same house as me.

She played the guitar beautifully and sang my favourite folk songs like Joan Baez’s plaintive What have they done to the rain? and Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Win”.

Her parents had a beautiful home in the Berkeley hills decorated like a French villa, including bidets in the bathrooms, but she chose to live in the dumpy co-op housing as there were too many conflicts with her parents, not the least of which was a recent abortion. She said this was the result of an affair with a married man, but was not forthcoming with many tasty details even when full of cheap Burgundy wine. I had developed a taste for Cold Duck, a cheap sweet, bubbly wine.

Down the street from the co-op house, just after the cinema where they showed avant garde films with Jean Moreau and Marcel Mastrioni, was our favorite expresso café. Here we’d sit for hours over a cappuccino or banana frappe, studying or arguing about how we could change the world.

One night when some friends and I went down for our caffeine fix, I saw Elinor deep in conversation with a blockheaded, leather-jacketed, rough-as-guts bikie. Before she could see us, I suggested to my friends that we go to another café, as I knew Elinor wouldn’t have wanted us to be interlopers on this other secret aspect of her life.

Elinor used to disappear mysteriously into the California bush on weekends and one Sunday night, she came home with a feral dog that she found wandering around and quickly named him Stud. Stud was quite ferocious and unpredictable and scary.

Elinor and I partnered on a co-op workshift where we had to fold and distribute clean sheets to the people in Burnham Hall. We danced to Greek music Zorba-style as we tossed the sheets and cases in the air before folding them. All the frenzied dance movements excited Stud, who barked wildly and nipped at our feet.

Elinor decided that he just needed some exercise, so we took him for a walk down to the main part of the campus. This regular trip from the dorm on the quietly residential north side of the campus to the center of the university seemed like a symbolic journey from ignorance to lively enlightenment and excitement.

On the way down, we noticed that some group, probably design students, was holding a “happening” in one of the buildings. People were always trying to outdo each other in being creative and spontaneous. This group had created a fanciful environment out of paper mache, mirrors, recorded sounds and spaghetti that you would have to walk, crawl and roll through.

It was pretty funny, especially with Stud snapping at our bottoms as we made our way through the tight tunnels. Stud, energized by the happening, took off wildly ahead of us probably in pursuit a some luckless hippie dog. (Elinor didn’t believe in putting a leash on him as she felt it was oppressive to restrain his spirit.)

Fearing she’d lose sight of him,Elinor called out in her loudest, clearest, educated voice in the middle of Sproul Plaza, “Hey, STUUUUD, COME HERE!!!” Every male who fancied himself to be a well-endowed, fine specimen of a man - and there were many at that time - turned around and looked at us.

Stud was a smart dog and knew his name; he stopped short and ran at us so determinedly that I quickly moved behind Elinor in case he was in attack mode.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Betty

http://smallpet.info

Hi Celia,

Fun story...Loved all the references to things from that wonderful era.Hippies and Cold Duck and Jean Moreau.

Escpecially enjoyed your description of Elinor and her not wanting to put a leash on Stud because it would suppress his spirit. Never mind that he was a feral dog who would bite anybody who crossed his path.

Enjoyed every word...

Hi Celia,

Great story. What a wonderful picture you paint with words. The images just flow in your mind like on a movie set.

Loved it

I love your story. My uncle had a dog like Stud only he was named Buddy. I don't think the guys would have looked if Elinor had called Buddy. Too funny - your description of the well endowed guys who thought they were studs.

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