Speaking of dogs, it is a splendid fact of nature that just as Mr Tabubil adores dogs, they adore him right back. An evening stroll with Mr Tabubil is like walking with a politician out kissing babies - he advances and coddled moppets and furry monsters of all shapes and sizes smile and drop in their tracks and roll over for a belly rub.
On the rare occasions when the connection isn't one of brotherly hallelujahs, there is still a spark - instantaneous and fierce.
The other night (all good stories start like this) we passed by a little corner store. Outside, tied to a lamp-post by a stout leash, was a dog. It hunkered at the bottom of the post, staring sullenly out at the world, and there was a species of mean, sordid, pissed-off-edness of disposition in his eyes that said his owner was in for a barrel full of trouble when he came back out.
"Oh look at the poor thing!" Mr Tabubil said. "All tied up and abandoned like that!"
The Poor Thing gave him a black look, and a low rumbling started deep in its throat.
I backed up. "He looks like a mean one to me."
Mr Tabubil gave me a reproachful look. "What are you talking about?" He said. "Look at those sad little eyes! Listen to that pitiful little moan!"
The Poor Thing bared a tooth.
"Er." I said. "Er. I don't think-"
"Hey buddy." Mr Tabubil coo'd. "Are we feeling lonely? Are we all alone out here?"
He hunkered down and stretched out a hand, and the Poor Thing lunged at him with a snap of teeth that came within half an inch of taking Mr Tabubil's hand right off. He jumped back in a hurry. The dog shot him a look of pure filth and started shouting:
"Oooh! Look!" It barked. "I've found a bastard! Bastard, Bastard, Bastard, Bastard, Bastard! Call the Carabineros! I've caught a bastard!"
People were starting to stare. Me - I stepped smartly around the lamppost and left them to it. Half a block later, Mr Tabubil caught up with me at a run. Behind us, the dog was still barking - loud and self-righteous, and all of it lies. If he'd been human he'd have been the sort of sod who starts fights in bars with bottles, and afterwards, sits in the gutter with a nasty expression on his face saying "Who, me? He was the one that said-" while they cart everyone else away in an ambulance.
"I knew I shouldn't have touched him." Mr Tabubil panted. "That dog had crazy eyes."
"I think we should move a little faster now. He's still barking."
Three city blocks later, the dog was still going:
"And your Daddy is a bastard, and his Daddy as well - ! Bastards all of them! And you, mate - you come back here and try that thing with your hand again! Oooh, yes! I'll show you-!"
Three blocks after THAT, he was still shouting at the top of his range, telling the whole damned evening world all about Mr Tabubil and all his antecedents, going back all the way to the flood, and before that as well - as far as that dog was telling it, there was a Bastard in the Garden of Eden alongside the Snake, and he looked just like my husband.
We were walking more slowly now. Slowly and just a touch ostentatiously, with the faces of those whom butter never melts in the mouth and of those who would never stoop touch somebody elses' doggie, no matter how it begged and wheedled.
"Crazy eyes." Mr Tabubil sighed, shaking his head. "Tabubilgirl, a memo: Never touch the crazy eyes."
In the far distance, we could still hear the Poor Thing shouting. "Bastards all!"