I have a huge marshmallow where my heart should be. I've been on the waiting list for years for a stone transplant (even a couple of small rocks would do), but those with stones don't tend to spend much time thinking about donating to those less fortunate than they. Thus, I'm stuck with this marshmallow that's constantly leaping at the chance to do things that those with stones, or even normal hearts, would label "insane." I'm especially vulnerable during the Christmas season, when my marshmallow seems to push the "high" button on its radar detector for something that will make the season memorable and meaningful.
That's why my marshmallow skipped a few beats last December when I read an email sent to me by my boss. An animal shelter based in Maine had chosen to rescue a rejected and heart-worm-infected dalmation who was living in North Carolina. They needed volunteers to drive her different legs of the long journey up the east coast, and no one had volunteered for the slot running through my neck of the woods. After its little imitation of a child on a school playground, my marshmallow then became the secret agent, convincing me we were co-conspirators against my brain, sneaking around it to quickly type a reply that might as well have said, "Oh boy! There's nothing we'd rather do than spend a precious Sunday afternoon driving all over God's creation for such a good cause." Then, my marshmallow spent the next few days as a fleece sweatsuit, making me feel all warm and fuzzy and good about myself for doing something so noble.
Unfortunately, this warm, fuzzy feeling was ruined by a re-visit to that email and a click on one of the links that took me to sites where all kinds of poor dogs needing homes were on display. One little dachsund described "himself" as needing a very special kind of human to care for him, one who would get joy only out of knowing a good home was being provided for him, because he suffered from encephalitis, which meant he couldn't provide the sorts of things most dogs provide for humans: he didn't want to be held or petted; he couldn't see well; and he would be hard to train.
Where the hell was my brain? I needed it to control my marshmallow, who was already looking for a nice nook for this little guy in our house. Forget outrageous vet bills. Forget the fact I travel all the time and couldn't give him the attention he needed. Forget the fact that dogs, unlike humans, are lucky enough that they can actually be "put down" when they're in this sort of condition, and wasn't it inhumane to be keeping the poor thing alive? Quite obviously, he'd been spared for the sole purpose of making me feel guilty for not leaping at the chance to bring him into a safe and loving environment, and I should be quitting my job and devoting my whole life to his care.
Finally, my brain walked in from its Mensa meeting, or something, and grabbed the mouse, shutting off the computer. It told me to stay away from all those dog sites and not even to entertain the notion of showing them to Bob, who has two marshmallows where his heart should be. It reminded me that to adopt any dog, let alone an encephalitic one, would be enough to cause it to have a stroke. Having one dog that was shuttled back and forth between NYC and our house was bad enough (Bob was still in school at the time, and we had a student apartment), let alone two. I didn't argue. I knew encephalitis was probably a sensitive subject.