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December 09, 2016
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No jacket required

Contributed photo Community members help NACL in Highland Lake, NY spruce up for the season at the work party the theatre hosted last weekend.

I’ve never considered myself shallow, much less a clothes horse, but this past weekend, all illusions were shattered. Once again, the events schedule overflowed throughout the region, and with Memorial Day upon us, Dharma (the wonder dog) and I are busier than ever. Now that my “living stuffed animal” has eclipsed any delusion that I might have had regarding personal popularity, I’ve thrown up my hands and given in, as Dharma’s invites flood my mailbox and requests for her appearance at local celebrations ramp up.

In anticipation of Thunderbash (www.thunder102.com), the dog had been asked to attend the pre-bash party at the Villa Roma (www.villaroma.com) and DJ Paul Ciliberto grudgingly extended the invitation to me, since “someone has to drive her there.” Unwilling to be seen in the same outfit two nights running, I chose basic black and a motorcycle jacket, knowing full well that I had intentions of showing up at the Monticello Casino and Raceway (www.monticellocasinoandraceway.com) in full cowboy regalia for the seventh annual fundraiser, benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s research hospital and the YMCA of Sullivan County’s Strong Kids program.

The mixer, which included a preview of performances by local favorites Iron Cowboy (www.ironcowboyband.com) and brothers Ken and Barry Somerville (www.somervillebrothers.com) was great fun, but I was distracted by the constant barrage of requests for photo-ops with (uh huh) the dog. Even country superstar Ira Dean was so smitten with the pup that he insisted on posing with her highness. Exhausted from schlepping her around, I had to pass on my planned visit to NACL (www.nacl.org) in Highland Lake for its “work party.” The NACL leaves no stone unturned involving the community in their efforts to entertain with new, original theatrical productions and have a unique way of making work fun. I suppose if they had invited you-know-who, she would not have let me rest. The theatre’s new season promises (IMHO) to be inventive and exciting, so I might have to augment my wardrobe before venturing out.

Rodeo clown that I am, my Thunderbash ensemble had been carefully planned, with Dharma the Wonder Dog in mind, since she was to be a star attraction alongside the Eldred High School Key Elements and country staples Amber Hayes, Darren Warren, Sherry Lynn, David Allen Byrnes and Tommy Steele, with special appearances from Monticello’s Dan Braunstein (singing the Star Spangled Banner) and “Mr. Nashville” Billy Block.

Okay... back to the jacket. Hand-stiched brown suede, perfectly matching my cowboy hat and requisite snap-button sleeveless, embroidered country rockin’ shirt (attention to detail is everything!), the jacket was a given. Aside from the fashion statement, the dog fits snugly into it, allowing me hands-free access to the camera, hand shaking and baby kissing, as we make the rounds.

Imagine (if you will) my dismay, then...when I reached for it in the closet (hold the comments, please!) and came up empty handed. Mild consternation quickly gave way to rising panic as I rifled through the rack, hooks in the hallway, chair backs and the truck. Empty handed and frighteningly close to full blown hissy-fit, I desperately tried to retrace my steps from the prior dog-in-jacket events, including her star turn at Rollin’ Down the River (www.delawareyouthcenter.org) just a week earlier. Frantic calls to the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop (www.scdw.net), Callicoon’s Patty Devine (www.cafedevine.com), Stacy Cohen (www.dancingcatsaloon.com), who had given me a ride somewhere along the way, all turned up nothing, nada, goose egg.

“Oh, just wear denim,” Cohen advised. “It’s back in style, and lighter in weight” she chirped, before hanging up, undoubtedly shaking her head while chalking up my dismay to “spring fever.” Unwilling to even consider the denim thing, I paused briefly to acknowledge the folly of my hysteria over a wardrobe selection and went back to making more calls, including a pathetic message left on the “Thunderline” at 102.1—causing DJ Jason Dole to respond, unable to disguise the pity in his voice. With time running out, I considered my options, cursing my fate and blaming the dog.

Feeling slightly less than manly, I gave up—just as the phone rang. Sure that it was someone responding to my Facebook plea, I was dismayed to hear Center for Discovery’s (www.thecenterfordiscovery.org) Joanne Bitjeman laughing. “Did you look in the closet?” she mocked and as I winced, I screamed back. “I’ll look again, if it will shut you up!” I shouted, gasping as my quivering hand touched suede. Minutes before my scheduled departure, I was forced to sheepishly admit that the jacket was in my grasp. Admiring my reflection and tucking the dog inside, I made my way to Thunderbash, as the panic subsided (I know, I’m deranged). As the temperature climbed to 80 degrees, I shook my fist, cursing irony, informing the dog that it was far too warm for suede. Tossing it aside, I threw Dharma in a shoulder bag and prepared myself to “cowboy up.” Lesson learned? Doubtful.