Friday, March 07, 2008
We have occupied our current home for a little over twenty-five years. Longest that either my wife or I have ever lived anywhere in one place, together or separately.
When we arrived here, we had a dog, and save for a brief period when she dug out under the fence and ran away, never to be found, have had a dog or three and assorted cats since. The last cat has been gone for a while but one will step up to replace him. One always does. Word goes out on the cat vine: Hsst. Vacancy down near the corner ...
When I am at home and not on the road, I walk my dogs through our neighborhood, at least once each day. And since Jude is on a diet to drop a few pounds, I have been upping the walks to longer distances and more of 'em. (If he is going to jump in agility, he needs to be lean, to save wear on his joints, even though his maximum jump need only clear the bar set at eight inches.)
This morning, having gotten up early, secondary to fasting-sleep, and after three cups of coffee and still no food, I took the pups out.
A block west of my house, to the south side, the mostly-shared wall condos that make up the area called Crystalbrook lie across the road from the creek where the ducks and geese hang out.
I like walking in there because there is almost no traffic; most of the inhabitants of Crystalbrook being retirees who don't seem to drive much. My mother-in-law used to live there before she moved back to Louisiana.
So there we were, tooling down the middle of the street, when a woman came out of her condo. She was older than I -- hard to believe, I know, but either that's true or she had a very hard life -- wearing a blue flowered house coat. With her arms crossed, she glared at me, and in a voice that could cut glass said, "Do you live in this neighborhood?"
Technically, residing a block away via the nearest cross-street, I do, but I knw that she meant Crystalbrook, so I said, "No, ma'am." Polite to my elders, that's me.
And she said, "Then why are you walking here?"
Understand, my dogs were nowhere near her yard, and I carry plastic bags to clean up after them if they poop.
Several answers sprang immediately to mind, some of them including Anglo-saxon terms considered impolite in mixed company and allowing as to how the query was not any of her business. But now and again, even an old pig finds a truffle, and what I said instead was, "Because the dogs don't get as much exercise riding in the car."
I confess I was rather pleased with myself. Sometimes you get these verbal assaults, and you fume, and only later does a clever response present itself, too late to fling. But fasting does sharpen one's wit. I thought it was a nice, clear, literal response, ab lib, bam, gotcha!
To which she said, "There's no need to be rude!"
And on a roll now, I said, "No ma'am. We didn't need to have this conversation at all, far as I'm concerned. You have a nice day." Whereupon I walked away ...
(And let's be honest here, I didn't really hope she had a nice day at all. I hoped Ezekiel would come down on his Wheel, haul her off for Judgment, and she'd get sent to see the Prince of Darkness.)
This hasn't happened that often, people coming out to say stupid stuff, but it has a few times. I was asked a similar question, back when I waked the German Shepherd Dogs, in another neighborhood. Once, I had a voice blast out of a bedroom telling me in no uncertain terms to get my dogs off the the speaker's lawn. A woman once rapped on her kitchen window at me and wagged her finger when my dog stopped to pee on the base of the plum tree across the sidewalk from her yard. And one time, with both dogs on a leash, a fellow coming from the other direction said, "You know, not everybody likes dogs." as he drew near. To which I replied, "How sad for them."
Takes all kinds, I know, but to be honest, there are some kinds I could do without ...