This is Lucas:
Around these parts, he’s also knows as Lukey, Lukey Bear, Smoochy, Smooch, Smoo, sometimes Smoochy-smoo, and Smoocharelli. And L-train.
He responds pretty well to any of those, so if you ever bump into him, feel free to call him whichever you like best!
Anyway, I’ve written about Lucas’ fear issues before, but I didn’t write about his behavior at parties.
The first time we brought him home to my family – my big, huge, loud family – poor Lucas hid in the front hallway, cowering on his bed, and barking like crazy when anyone approached. There was one not-so-humorous moment when he cornered my poor old great aunt because he was terrified of her walker. And she’s smaller than he is. And 94 years older than he is. In people years.
When we lived in DC, we often had a lot of people over . In a group of people he knew really well, he’d be fine. He’d circulate a bit, but mostly hang off to the side and watch. But it took us months and months to even get to that point, to get him from the place where he’d cower in larger groups to where he could hang at the edge and watch.
After moving to Indiana, we knew fewer people and so had fewer parties. As we’ve gotten to know people, we’ve had small groups over and he’s done fairly well.
This past Saturday, we had a party.
All the science folks from John’s lab and surrounding labs were coming over. We worried about Lucas on and off throughout the day.
“If it gets bad, we can just put the baby gate upstairs,” we decided.
As the first guests started to arrive, we let the boys outside because the door seems to be a hot spot for Lucas. When the first small group had shown up, we tentatively let him in… and…
He ran around like a maniac.
For about 30 seconds.
Then he went and got his squeaky alligator and trotted it out for “his” guests.
John and I laughed. It was amazing. Truly, a complete transformation.
For the rest of the night, Lucas skittered around, flirting with one girl in particular, but saying hello to everyone. He ate treats from our guests. He whipped his alligator in front of people who so kindly tossed it for him. He actually was having fun!
Then, toward the end of the night, John looks at me with a look of concern and mouths, “Where’s Lucas?”
I hadn’t seen him in several minutes.
I started looking around, scooting around groups of people to see if anyone was patting him, out the window to see if someone let him out.
And then… around the corner I saw him.
In the middle of the party, in the middle of the living room, with people milling around and talking, Lucas – my darling, fearful, sweet little Smoochy – had put himself to bed.
And then I died because my heart burst out of my chest.