Monday, June 29, 2009

The Dog Parkist: No Hugging Allowed?

Q: Has this ever happened to you at Dog Park? You are walking along, minding your own business, and you meet someone who has a sad dog story to tell. The dog has gotten sick or hit by a car or has died. The person is distraught and needs a hug, which you provide. But the person is also holding a full bag of poop. You end up giving a person a hug and getting a bag of poop flung over your shoulder. It's kind of gross, but you don't want to be rude, right?
—Huggin' and Buggin' Out

A: Huggin', I feel your pain. Like you, the Dog Parkist comes from a colder, ruder region of the country where the extension of arms toward another human being would result in the simultaneous loss of dignity and crucial body heat. Balmy Austin is such a hipster, hippie town; there's no getting away from all the shameless hugging among unrelated adults. There's hugging at church, at the grocery store, at school, at the bus stop, at children's birthday parties, at restaurants, and, alas, at dog park. Hugs that say hello, hugs that say goodbye,  hugs that say, "Yes, we slept together, but it wasn't really that great because only one of us was high, but that's okay because we are hip and cool and unsure of our sexuality anyway." Where will it all end? 

Some people do enjoy the hugging. Some are just trying to fit into the Austin scene. But sometimes people really do need a hug—especially when some unfortunate event has befallen a beloved animal. That, my friend, is when you must do the right thing and step up to the plate and deliver that hug even if it means getting smacked in the face by a dookie bag. People in pain don't think clearly. Under normal circumstances, they would remember instinctively to let go of the bag before reaching out for you. Give them a pass. It's only poop, and it's probably from a dog you really like anyway. Then, the next time your minister or neighbor or delivery man or school teacher or convenience store cashier comes swooning at you with open arms, put up your hands and say, "Hey, man, I've met my hug quota for the day." Thanks for writing! 

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