I get greetings in the street all the time and this, I’ve long accepted, is not an outcome of anything specific to my being as a person, nor does it have much to do with my being as a person as it pertains to being a person walking in the street as the greetings happen overwhelmingly whenever I’m out walking with Lou.
To be completely honest about it, the greetings are overwhelmingly for Lou with – at most – a few offhand hellos and hi theres for me. I am oddly appreciative of this, since it at least relieves me of that great social burden of Small Talk with Strangers. I get to be less polite; I get away with a not insignificant rebuff of my own.
Nothing or nothing much for me? Moving right on along!
Tit for tat.
Lou was with me the day at the Farmer’s Market with the encounter with The Man.
The St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market is a well-kept affair, refuge to bleary-eyed suburbanites, their dogs and children alike. It’s a fine place to take the in-laws, if they’ve never been there before or haven’t been there for a Good Long Time.
It is a quaint but not without a certain flair; quaint, but not unassuming.
A double negative kind of place, with a petting zoo and buggy rides in the summer and year-round kettle corn.
You can get kale there, and baby chickens.
Meat and cheese. Sorry. Meats and cheeses.
The Man was seated just outside the food court doors on a decorative, undoubtedly handcrafted bench. He was clutching a bag of dog treats (you can get those at the Market too!) and scanning the passersby with his big, watery eyes. He saw Lou as we walked by and said hello to Lou, and as he said his hello to Lou, he reached deep into the bag, extracted one brown toasted treat and offered it to Lou, stopping just shy of Lou’s inquisitive doggy nose. It was a fluid, graceful motion, a well-practised almost instinct.
Lou backed away from the Man’s outstretched arm and open hand and retreated to his fallback position behind my legs. We backed away from him, intentions clear.
But the Man was not deterred.
Head up, big, watery eyes set to motion again, scanning, scanning, Lou and Lou’s rejection apparently totally forgotten, it didn’t take The Man long to find them: other dogs, other owners, many of whom were at first rather pleased by the attention and then rather perplexed by the situation.
For the Man, he had dog biscuits, LOTS of dog biscuits (possibly even expensive ones), but no dog. Neither doggy hide nor doggy hair.
And no words spared for human ears; none so much as wasted. He addressed the dogs and the dogs alone with man-sized, childish glee – “Hello little boy! Hello big girl! You a good doggy, hmmm?” – big watery eyes lighting up, for instance, when a little brown and white shih tzu pulled violently away from its wary owner and accepted a biscuit with manners that even by dog standards seemed voracious and sloppy.
The dog was happy, the man was happy, the owner, who knows? I was happy Lou refused the biscuit.
Which leads me to wonder.
How many inevitable rejections occurred that day? And for whom?
But for whom?
Looking at it from all sides, I cannot not conclude that that depends on who was really in control after all.
Dogs and all.