I was sitting on the wooden bleachers on a Saturday in spring waiting for my name to be called to try out for a baseball team when I noticed a neighborhood dog approach. He was a beautiful Irish Setter by the name of Red.
Something was different about him. He was covered with something green. People in the stands began to make comments. “What is wrong with that dog? What is that on him? Is that some kind of horse medicine?”
I was already nervous that morning to be the first girl in my community to ever try out for a baseball team. Up until then, only boys were allowed to play on these teams. This was in the early days of women breaking into the sports that had typically been reserved for boys. When I signed up for try-outs, the whispers in my small town had begun.
When I saw Red, my stomach sank. I didn’t know the details; but instinctively, I knew that my big brother Stephen was involved with this dog’s new green color. He was always up to some kind of prank. Oh my…what has he done now? I kept quiet.
The next Monday, I was sitting in my eighth grade social studies class taking a test. My teacher, the school coach, asked me to step outside of the class. Confused, I followed him into the hallway. He asked me a series of questions.
“Where do you live?”
“Lynbrook,” I answered.
“Ummmm hmmmmm. And what color is your house?”
“Green. Why?” I answered. (Why did he pull me out of class to ask me the obvious?)
“Ummmm hmmmmm. And does your family have any extra paint cans around anywhere?”
“I don’t know. Why?”
“Well, I guess you have seen my dog!” he said.
I dropped my head. “Yes”, I answered.
“Do you know who it was who painted him? He asked.
“My brother?” I answered, guessing. I was a good guesser.
“Yes," he said. "And I heard that it was your idea” he accused.
“What?! No sir! I didn’t even know it happened until I saw your dog on Saturday!” I answered.
“That is not what I heard!” He continued. “I was told that you told your brother ‘That dog sure would look funny painted green!’ And then both of you painted him.”
“No sir! I’ve never said anything like that! I haven’t painted anything! Whenever it happened, I was probably over at Cindy’s house. That is where I hang out.”
“Well, I heard that you were involved; that it was your idea. Now, I love my dog. If he annoys someone, I wish that person would just call and tell me; not paint him green. I don’t know how we are going to get this green paint off of him!”
We returned to the classroom. I was very upset that I was being accused of something that I didn’t do. I was also upset about what my brother had done. Sometimes his shenanigans were so embarrassing! I finished my test.
When I arrived home, I advised my entire family about the indignity of being pulled out of class by my teacher in the middle of a test to be accused of something that I did not do. That is when I found out the whole story.
My dad had built a new storage shed. He had installed a new door. My older sister Maresa was an aspiring artist who was taking art lessons. Sometimes, she would set up a table, easel and her oil paints and canvas outside to paint. She did this while my father worked on his shed. My brother Stephen was in and out in the vicinity. Maresa got the great idea that she and my brother could use her oil paint set to paint graffiti on the inside of the newly installed door. My dad gave the permission and that is when they commenced. They were using both brushes and their fingers to paint the door. I was over at my friend Cindy’s house at the time.(She happened to live next door to the coach who owned Red.)
Maresa and Stephen had oil paints all over their hands. That is when Red ran into our backyard. Maresa looked down at her paint-covered hands, at the dog, at her hands and then up at Stephen with a grin on her face. Then she said, “That dog sure would look funny painted green.” Of course, Stephen laughed and they both began to pet the beautiful red dog. My dad glanced over at what they were doing, snickered and went back to work.
That is the story of how the red dog became green. In the end, my parents paid the vet bill for the green paint to be washed out of the dog’s fur, my dad admitted that he probably shouldn’t have allowed them to paint the dog, (but he said it while smiling), the teacher was required to apologize to me for the accusation, I made a B on my test in spite of being upset by the teacher in the middle of the test, I didn’t make the baseball team and life went on…..
copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins