Schott's Vocabulary the other day made me smile. The word of the day was Avatards, which fans of the James Cameron movie Avatar use to refer to themselves. Schott noticed that the word—self-selected by the film's admirers—is neither politically correct nor complimentary. (Avatards were, apparently, deriving their nickname from the more virile one chosen by fans of the Twilight series—Twihards.)
Naturally, I thought about a moniker for folks at the Dog Park. As you know, I often refer to regular Park attendees as Parkers, even though I have horrible memories of a boy with that name who tormented me throughout middle school and high school. (He had acne and a squeaky voice, and became a born-again Christian. One time he turned to me in French class and asked me how, if I hated Christians so much, could I listen to Bach? Huh?) But Parktards, I like that one. In my mind, however, a parktard is not a desirable label. Parktards are the ones—both human and canine—who just don't get how Park works. You know who I'm talking about—the dog that doesn't know how to play and all the other dogs find annoying; the old guy who hits on the women under 30; the owner who doesn't let his dog play because he's teaching it retrieval skills and screams when it gets distracted. Tsk. What a parktard. Try it in French. Oof! Quel parktard.
Another interesting phrase I stumbled across appeared in an article in The New Yorker a few weeks ago. Fen Montaigne writes about his time tagging along with American scientists who study the dwindling colonies of the Adelie penguin in Antarctica. The phrase was global wierding, which refers to how species can get out of sync with the environment because of the changes wrought by global warming. In the case of the penguins, the loss of sea ice around their breeding grounds has made it harder for them to find enough to eat. But because the birds are hardwired to breed at certain times and are unable to adapt, either by moving to new breeding grounds or changing their breeding schedules, they are certain to become extinct. Again, I see an application to Park. We are experiencing clashes with the good people who work at TxDoT because of park wierding. Because of seasonal changes—late sunrises, early sunsets—we are showing up at Park when employees are making their way to and from their cars. We are out of sync with our environment and the price we pay is not extinction (though it could eventually) but random visits from Animal Control and snarky e-mails on the Park listserv. Fortunately, now that we have passed the winter solstice, the sun will be more and more accommodating of earlier mornings and later evenings, and soon we won't have to show up while workers are at the office.
So be patient and bring your leash. There have been more reports of tickets issued by Animal Control. One Parker received a ticket last Wednesday, around 2:30 pm. She asked the officer why Animal Control did not come out at 5:00 pm, during "prime time." According to the Parker (I heard this story third-hand), the officer shrugged and said, "We can't be bothered. Besides, we get off at 5 o'clock." So there you have it. Our tax dollars at work—between 9 and 5. Unless—the officer's comment was a ruse to make us all feel relaxed about walking leashless in the evenings and then WHAM!, Animal Control shows up in force for a clean sweep. Run for the creek. (And don't be a Parktard.)