Somehow one year—and this is the way things happened in those days—in the Spring, all the wives of
mid-level drug dealers in our little district emerged from their freshly painted, fully renovated, antebellum
houses with matching Afghan hounds on the ends of long fine leather leashes. Of the three that I
recognized two were also pushing baby carriages…well, top of the line, European baby carriages with
overly large spoke wheels and finely tooled brass fittings. So, I don’t know, count backward and you
discover that there was some real activity in the mid-level drug dealer bedrooms of Richmond’s Fan
District the previous Summer…and perhaps some carelessness. Of course it was nice to see that the mid-
level drug dealers were prospering.

They all had fine wives.

These fine, trim, elegant beings were perfectly suited for the matching Afghan hounds which trotted like
peculiar-looking ponies in front of them. The word noble comes to mind. Along with the word envy. But let’s
forget about me for the moment and concentrate on the drug dealers’ wives, any one of which might have
fit in comfortably, and purposefully unnoticed, Opening Night at the Met. Each looked as though she’d just
stepped out of the pages of some glossy New York City fashion magazine …but casually, of
course…decked out merely by chance.

The dealers themselves--in those very few times I got a glimpse of one—must have had a morning ritual,
rubbing the finest grade sand paper over every inch of their face and hands. Whatever the process, it
produced that unmistakable upper-class Aristocratic glow. That look appears in people who had
accumulated their wealth by more socially acceptable means as well. They also had that Yeah, I’m a rich
guy, but my superiority is innate smugness. But, their wives, Oh, those drug dealers’ wives, they were
something else. They were completely off limits for one thing. They were certainly nice to look at from a
distance however.

So, all during that Spring and Summer, you might, from time to time, observe one of these graceful
creatures strolling under the sheltering trees of Grove Avenue or down the ancient brick sidewalks of Park
Avenue, looking like a goddess, pulled through the dappled sunlight by her devoted, goofy-looking,
hounds (breathe here), and you might wonder, ‘Why now?’, ‘Why Afghans?’ But, then of course, you’d
realize, ‘Why not?’

One day, (now we’re getting somewhere) I saw two of these women standing on the corner of Park and
Harrison with their hounds and baby carriages and I realized something. I realized that, if they weren’t
sisters, they may as well have been. It was very much as if only one of them was standing there in front of
a full-length mirror. This was without question the largest gathering of drug dealers’ wives since the battle
royale, 26 inning, softball game the previous summer between the Checkered Demons and the sub-
culture rock band, Titfield Thunderbolt, an event which I observed, but in which I did not partake. (Final
score: Checkered Demons 304, Thunderbolt 27.)
When this gathering of wives and dogs and baby carriages took place I was in the park across the street,
sitting on a bench, arms-length away from a smelly old wino.
“Look at that,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said.
“What do you think of those dogs?” I asked.
“Puh..” he replied.
“Those are pretty expensive dogs…”
He rolled his eyes about and spit.
“What do you think of those young women?”
He looked. He pondered. “Too skinny.”
“Really? You think they’re too skinny? I like ‘em,” I said.
He looked again. He gave it some thought. “Too much trouble.”
“What kind of dogs are those…do you know?” I asked.
“A dog’s a dog,” he said and spit again. “They’re too much trouble too.”

So, I was wondering what kind of dogs those were, and inspired by the spirit of inquisity (in those days I
had that), I got up and made my way across the street with every intent of approaching the drug dealers’
wives and asking, “Say…what kind of strange looking animals are those?” But, as I was approaching,
whetting my lips in prep--a young woman stopped near them and asked with ringing, bell-like
effervescence, “Those are Afghans, aren’t they?” The drug dealers’ wives confirmed, in a cheerful but
overly-dignified manner, that they were indeed.

Later on that same week, I was carrying a painting somewhere, walking down Grove Avenue, under the
trees, and the most beautiful of all the beautiful drug dealers’ wives stepped out of one of the several
houses her hubby owned on that street (common knowledge), led by one of these big stupid-looking dogs.
Although I have always been shy—and by shy I mean socially awkward—she just looked so lovely that I
could not help but smile as our approach to each other narrowed. And, she caught that. And she smiled at
me. I must have blushed (though I hate to admit it). I blushed even more deeply when that dog stopped in
front of me and stuck his nose directly into my crotch. She laughed in a remarkably feminine way, placing
one hand over her mouth, and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry”, as I took the animal’s snout in my hand and, with
some authority, removed it from my crotch.

Then, me and the drug dealer’s wife just looked into each other’s sparkling eyes for an unreasonable (and
by that I mean possibly dangerous) few seconds. Then I think we both blushed and bowed our heads, still
laughing. When we bobbed up again we explored each other’s eyes for a while more, until I finally came up
with something to say.
I said, “That’s an Afghan isn’t it?”
She said, “No, actually he’s a Borzoi.”
But she said it in such a way that I was pretty sure she really meant, “Why don’t you and I just run off
together? We could have a really good time.”

That was pretty much our entire affair. It lasted 47 seconds.
My hope is that when my life flashes before my eyes, just before I make that eternal leap, I’ll re-live that
moment. I’ve come pretty close just now, by telling it.