I regularly find myself speaking as if I am our 12-year-old chocolate Lab, Scout.
Quarantine has taken its toll.
Scout’s voice sounds a lot like Scooby Doo, especially if Scooby Doo were voiced by Homer Simpson.
Scout, when she speaks through me, is eternally optimistic, infectiously positive. Most every word starts with an ‘R’ sound.
“How was your day today, Scout?” Lindy will rhetorically ask.
“Ranks for rasking! I rept on one rouch. Then I ricked ryself for a while. Then I rept on the rother rouch. Ren out of ren!”
Scout also gets away with saying things that I wouldn’t.
(And from here on out you’ll just have to do the impersonation with the ‘r’ sounds.)
SCOUT: You guys are having a big salad for dinner again? Wow. Must be “telling Steve he needs to lose weight” night.
ME: (Laughing at Scout).
LINDY: You do realize that you just laughed out loud at your own joke, right? You do realize that wasn’t really Scout talking, right?
SCOUT: Why are you talking about me like I’m not here, Lindy?
For years, daughter Emma, now 14, had desperately wanted another dog. A lap dog. The kind of dog I swore I’d never get.
In June, Lindy and Emma were volunteering at Paws&Claws. Lindy called. Asked me to come down with our other two kids.
When we got there, Emma held a lap dog. Doe eyed. Terrified.
She’d been found on the side of the road. No one claimed her. A 13.5 pound pit bull, Doberman, chihuahua, poodle mix.
We knew she was meant to be with us.
We named her Finch.
Finch loves Emma. Follows her everywhere.
And Finch, soon after, began speaking through Emma. Finch’s voice is, well, high energy. She’s exasperated by others. Very snarky.
She says plenty of things Emma would not be allowed to say.
Like “Not to be rude, Steve, but you really need a haircut. Unless mullets are coming back for 2021. Tee hee."
Also, Finch constantly goes out of her way to refer to me as her “stepdad.”
For months during Quarantine, Emma and I were home, together. Just us and the dogs. All day.
It was not unusual for both of us to be working at the kitchen table, holding conversations as Scout and Finch.
FINCH: Hey, Scout. Can you believe they’re lettting Emma buy AirPods with her Christmas money? How long are those going to last? I mean, she loses her damn retainer like every night!
SCOUT: Yeah. I think I’ve already eaten like three retainers!
ME: (Laughing at Scout).
We probably didn’t realize the extent of how this sounded to others until Hadley, 22, came home from college.
“What in the world is happening up here?” she said, walking upstairs. “I heard some weird voices.”
“Well, well, well, Scout,” said Finch. “It seems our voices are too weird for Little Miss College Thang.”
“Reah,” said Scout. “Rittle Riss Rollege Rang.”
I finally had to jump in. “Come on, you two,” I scolded. “That’s uncalled for.”
Hadley said “You do realize that was you and Emma talking, right?”
Emma looked up and said “What was that? I wasn’t listening.”
Then Finch said “Burn, Hadley! She wasn’t even paying any attention to you! Do you need some salve for that burn? Tee hee!”
Then Scout said something. Then I said something. Then Finch interrupted Emma. Then, finally, Hadley walked back downstairs.
Then Emma and I laughed for a while, then went back to work.
Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.