Saturday, July 10, 2010
Welcome to Bizarro World
But today Muzzy definitely needed a morning run, so we went to Park. And after eluding the woman who teases me for wearing boots when it's not raining, Muzzy and I managed to complete almost an entire loop when there she was: the #1 member of the Coven, whom I'll call Nyoo Yawk N. NYN is notorious at Dog Park for a voice like a fog horn that broadcasts opinions about everything, but a favorite topic is the only way to raise, train, and walk a dog, i.e., her way. Nothing grills a Texan, even a non-native one, like a loud-mouthed New Yorker, and most people stay out of her way. But today she had no minions to lecture, and so I had no warning until she was on top of me and the Muzz. I tried to keep my head down, but I was in her cross hairs. Nyoo Yawk N. stopped me, pointed across the field, and then peppered me with questions like a wise guy in an old RKO gangster picture: "Are you parked over there? Are you going to your car? Do you know that woman in that car? Whose dog is that? Do you know what it did?"
I could feel only the blood pounding in my ears and the laboring of my breath. Instead of formulating answers to her questions, my eyes darted in search of an exit. I managed to stammer out answers, but they really were beside the point. NYN. had launched into a monologue about how the woman across the field had let her dog out of her car, and it proceeded first to terrorize NYN's own small dogs before it went out into the field and took a dump, which the woman did not pick up. NYN was offended in every possible way. She said, "And I waved my arms and yelled, 'Helloooo! Your dog is pooping over here,' but the woman didn't care! She just sat there in her car, and I think that is so wrong, people letting their dogs out while sitting in their cars. I mean it's just not a good thing, and the people who work here hate us because we let our dogs poop in the field without picking it up." She paused for the merest breath and then said, "So if you want to over there and talk to her about it, that would be a good idea."
I have become a deeply suspicious person in recent months. I trust no one, least of all NYN, and I kept waiting for the sucker punch. I kept expecting to hear the whistling of the anvil as it fell from the sky onto my head. And then the world tilted on its axis a little as I understood, "She doesn't remember who I am." And then came the realization that NYN was treating me as an ally. I was stunned, stupefied, but I saw my out. "Yes," I said firmly, clenching Muzzy's leash purposefully in my hand. "Yes, I will talk to her right now." I grabbed Muzzy and strode forward. As I walked away, NYN continued to appeal to me, "Because it's just not right. We need to keep this park clean for everyone."
What had just happened? Had I fallen into Bizarro world? Was I walking in Alternate Reality Dog Park? Had the world become a place where NYN makes sense? Where her bellowed entreaties to keep Texas beautiful actually fall on deaf ears? Where people ignore her without retribution? Where NYN will make an appeal to me, a lowly outcast, to set things straight? I blinked, but the sky above me was still blue, and the cicadas still sang their songs in the grass.
I went back to my car, and on seeing the offending woman and her dog up close, I realized that I knew them slightly. The dog is a sweetheart—frisky but distant, and the woman, who was just now extricating herself from her front seat, has a bum hip or knee that forces her to rely on a cane to inch her way around the trail. I said good morning. We exchanged pleasantries, but I said nothing about the dog's poop. I had run out of bags myself and thought that I'd simply put things right later by picking up an extra load when I came back in the evening. It would be my own quiet form of justice.
As I put the car in reverse, I saw Nyoo Yawk N. approach the parking lot. She seemed to hang back and watch the other woman hobble into the Park with her dog. And I thought that NYN looked like one of those giant Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons—only half deflated, with her big head drooping on the fabric stem of a neck, her mouth puckered and downturned, her arms not outstretched but sagging in what looked like defeat. Welcome to Bizarro World. I think I kind of like it. -z