Archive for the ‘Pele Trumps Current Events’ Category

October 18, 2011 started as an uneventful day when Debbie, a friend from New Mexico, and I left my house, drove past the “South Lawn,” and down the gravel driveway to Witty Road, headed to yoga at Sportime. Pele, my Portuguese water dog, sat in the back seat admiring Debbie’s pretty wavy black hair streaked with gray hair just like his. The fall palette framed the Carolina blue sky as we drove past Lake Brandt, one of Pele’s favorite trails where he hoped to stop for a long hike.

However, the “adventure box” passed all Pele’s trails and continued until we arrived at the gym. I slowly steered my compact car into a shady parking space next to an enormous shiny, black SUV.

Pele recognized the parking lot and knew this entailed a long wait. Normally a quiet dog, Pele used his muscular chest and voluminous lungs to bark loudly and express his dissatisfaction. After all, Pele was probably thinking that he does an authentic downward facing dog and could lead the yoga class.

I stepped out of the car while verbally attempting to reassure and calm Pele. With a quick upward glance, I noticed that the SUV was backed into the parking space with all the windows open and four young men watching my every move. “My dog will settle down once I leave,” I told them.

Next I opened the trunk, grabbed my light blue yoga mat, tucked it under my arm, and strolled towards Debbie, who had already looked inside the SUV. After rounding the back of my car, I too, noticed that all the physically fit guys were dressed in black and heavily armed with automatic guns. These fellows were not deer hunters.

Recalling news of President Obama’s scheduled visit to Greensboro to promote his job bill, I leaned slightly to peer into the SUV and asked, “Is Obama in the gym?”

In contrast to Pele, the men remained completely silent. Only Debbie responded. “They can’t say.”

“Well, you certainly are not sitting here because my husband is in the gym,” I joked. Laughter broke the silence, and then Debbie and I continued to the gym entrance. Pele sat in the back seat annoyed.

I watched Moni and Debbie walk away and a curious thing happened. They stood in a short line and quickly reached a civilian dressed man who waved a wand around their torsos, legs, and out-stretched arms; I assumed it was a yoga position. It was difficult to keep a close eye on them because a huge vehicle obscured my view.

I shifted in an attempt to maintain eye contact on Moni because I always keep her in my view until she disappears, and then I focus on that point until she FINALLY reappears. Instead, I glanced inside the SUV. Holy catfish, those dudes had big guns.

Like a cat, risking that my curiosity might kill me, I asked “Hey dudes, who are you? And what is the deal with those guns? Look guys, I promise I won’t bark any more.”

The secret service agents glanced at each other until one finally one submitted, “I guess we can tell a dog, especially one that looks like Bo.”

“We’re from Washington, D.C. and President Obama is working out in the gym.”

“You don’t say. I lived in Alexandria, Virginia the first four and a half years of my life. I’ve seen photos of Malia and Sasha’s dog, Bo.”

“That’s real close to Washington, D.C.”

“Now I live with Moni and John in the woods about ten miles from here.”

“That sounds like a good life for a dog.”

“It’s fun.  I chase deer and squirrel in my yard. I even killed a ground hog recently. Some times I chase the family cat, Socks, but I get scolded for that. What’s the White House South Lawn like?”

“Oh, it is lovely; there is a thick lawn, rose bushes, and a vegetable garden.”

“You should see my South Lawn. It is south of our house with large oak trees, but no grass.”

Debbie and I cleared the wand test and entered Sportime. As Debbie checked in as a visitor, I scanned the treadmills for President Obama. No sign, I figured he was sequestered in a private room. We proceeded upstairs where from the mezzanine Debbie squatted to look through the handrail and, in the weight room, she spotted a tall, slender black man standing alone. “Is that Obama?” she asked.

A millisecond later she answered herself, “Yes, it is!”

Excitedly I exclaimed, “Oh, Debbie, I should tell him how I got the rescue Portuguese water dog that he wanted!”

For a few seconds I hesitated, thinking how this important man probably just wants to be left alone and lift weights. But then I told myself that I had the best story of anybody in this gym to share with President Obama and nothing to do with current events. After all, for years, I joked that I got the rescue Porty that Obama sought and Pele almost ended up in the White House. The man himself should hear the story.

With that thought and enough confidence to fill the world, I bee lined downstairs and straight to the weight room. En route, I told myself to avoid looking around for secret service agents because they would likely prevent me from approaching the President. My timing was exquisite. I entered the weight room with my eyes focused on the back of Obama’s head; he turned to look for his next weight machine and made eye contact. From that second until the end of our encounter, our eyes were locked together.

As I walked toward President Obama, with a smile as broad as the crescent moon across my face, he reached for my hand. During those steps, I was thinking what fun I was about to have and, amazingly, not a bit nervousness. I felt as if I were walking up to an old high school friend. Dressed in long, baggy, brown work-out pants, a cotton T-shirt, and baseball cap bill cropping his sparkling eyes out-lined with long eyelashes, President Obama also had the appearance of an old friend.

“I got the rescue Portuguese water dog that you and your family hoped to acquire,” I started.

For a short second, as expected, he looked confused. I continued, “Not long before you and your family started looking for a rescue Porty, I got one from Alexandria. My Porty could have ended up in the White House, but instead I got him.”

His eyes and face informed me that he now understood.

“Oh, aren’t they the greatest dogs?” President Obama commented.

“They are wonderful,” I agreed.

“What is your dog’s name?”


“Well, it sounds like Pele ended up in a nice home.”

“He sure did, we adore him.”

My mind continued with thoughts to share with President Obama such as how I’m a botanist and Pele conducts field work with me. But, reality reared up and I felt it was time to let the President continue lifting weights.  He released my hand, our eyes shifted, and he searched for his next machine.

Only after I departed did the amazement that I had just informed the President of the United States that I beat him to a rescue Porty sink in. Back to my more timid, shy self, I returned to the yoga room and began my practice without telling any body except my good friend Debbie.

In the parking lot, Pele concluded his conversation with the secret service agents, “Please tell Malia and Sasha that my only regret is that I never got to play with them. And tell Michelle that I would have enjoyed sneaking out of The White House with her.”


Bo at work in DC

Pele at work in NC


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