This morning I rode up to the 44th floor, accompanied by the elevator operator and a woman with a dog.
The dog, it's struck me, was extremely well-behaved; it sat primly on the floor and stared straight ahead at the slight gap between the metal doors. Floors whizzed past, blips of light flickered, but the dog didn't blink.
We stopped at the 33rd floor. The doors opened and the woman stepped out. She patted her thigh and said, "Here Scorpio. Come." It took a moment for the dog to process the command. Balefully, he looked up at the elevator operator, then me, and then slowly he stepped out to follow his mistress.
After the doors closed I looked at the elevator operator and said, "strange dog."
"That ain't the half of it, that dog is on Prozac. She told me herself. About six months ago she gets in here and she goes, 'Scorpio is so depressed. He whines all day long. He barks, he whimpers.'"
The elevator operator paused long enough for me to take in the image.
"But all the time I'm thinking, he's a fuckin' dog. This is what fuckin' dogs do. Am I right?"
I told him he was right. He went back to imitating the dog owner.
"Scorpio is vexed. He is vexed all the time. He takes out his anger on the furniture. He eats cushions. He pulls up threads in the carpet. He chews the blinds. He shreds newspapers. He shuns the sand box in the kitchen and urinates everywhere else."
The elevator operator stopped the car at the 44th floor, but did not open the doors.
"All the time I'm thinking..."
"He's a fuckin' dog?" I suggested.
"You're right," said the elevator operator, as if the whole fuckin' dog thing had been my idea,
"But one day she tells me she's taking him to see a vet on West End Ave. Then I don't see her for maybe a week. When I do see her again, she's got the mutt with the thousand yard stare: Forrest fucking Gump on the end of a lead. She tells me, "Scorpio is on a low dose of 'Reconcile'. Prozac for dogs. You familiar with it?"
I told him it was one of the drugs I hadn't tried.
"It's like a little doggy treat. Poor bastard doesn't even know he's being doped."
"Maybe he's happier," I said.
"Hah! I got a dog. I want to cheer him up, I take him out to the park and get him laid".
He laughed like a maniac, and then we agreed that sex in a public place was probably the best medicine. He opened the doors and told me to buzz him when I was leaving, but I was already calculating the health benefits of walking down forty-four flights of stairs.