The Truth About Mirrors

Late at night, when I’m in my office and only the halogen arm lamp above me is on, Honey will sometimes catch a glimpse of my reflection in the sliding glass doors and she’ll start barking her deep burglar-alarm bark. I’ll assure her that it’s only me, but she keeps at it, the hair standing up on her back, until I can finally snap her attention away from the reflection and show her that look, I’m right here, Honey. And she will look at me, pupils big and dark, her brow creased with worry. Then she’ll look back at the night glass casting my reflection. Then back at me. And she will huff and sigh and make this agitated noise, almost like speaking and almost like howling. And she will come over to me and nudge me with her nose and put her paw on my leg and wag her tail. Like she is so goddamned happy. So relieved that I’m there. Because, holy crap Daddy-O, did you see that? There was somebody who looked just like you outside. And that was some scary shit, man.

The funny thing is she makes this mistake again and again. Because she doesn’t get that it’s an illusion—that I’m the thing she’s seeing out there. And the fact that she gets so upset, and then so visibly relieved when she sees me … it kind of cracks me up. Because otherwise she’s a smart dog. She can sit and lie down and roll over. She can lift her front paw in the air when she’s prompted to “wave.” She knows how to fetch her leash from the doorknob when it’s time for a walk. But the whole reflection thing, it just escapes her every time.

And I love that about her. And I get it. I do. Because we all have those things that we just don’t grasp. We all have those mistakes we make, over and over.

Despite what you may have heard, I am not a dog. I walk upright. I understand the truth about mirrors. I’m a reasonably intelligent guy. And I can do any number of tricks. But I’ve got these mistakes I keep making. I’ve made them as long as I can remember, and I’ve yet to learn the trick of how to stop. And actually, if I’m going to be honest, I don’t really want to. Because sometimes I like to make them. Sometimes, I set out to make them—on purpose.

And I used to get angry at myself about this. I used to huff and howl and scream at my reflection. But all that did was make me go hoarse. And so now, more and more, I just laugh. And I drink to forget. And I resolve to myself that I will do it again as soon as I can. Because the mistakes define me, brother. The trick is learning to deal with the consequences. And I guess that’s the whole point. And I guess I kind of like that.

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