You’re welcome?

If you have small children, you understand one of the only moments of your day where your thoughts can flow uninterrupted is before they get out of bed.

That’s why I’m up at 6 a.m. every day during my summer vacation walking the dog.


On this particular morning, I was noting the paradox between noisy bustle of nature and the silent sleepiness of the neighborhood. (That’s right. When children aren’t whispering about snacks and play dates in my ear, I can actually come up with words like “paradox.”)

The sun was rising above the rooftops, and shades were still drawn in every house. Inchworms played Tarzan from webby ropes in branches. A flock of crows watched from the treetops, gossiping about us at full volume like Korean ladies in a nail salon. Flattened frogs dotted the pavement—remnants from last night’s amphibious parade across the rainy streets.

Suddenly, the foreboding low-pitched whine in Rosie’s throat warned me that inchworms, crows and frog corpses weren’t our only company.

Within moments, she was dragging me along—she, the ecstatic escape prisoner; and I, the futile ball with chain—careening out of control down the bowling alley of the street.

Up ahead was an elderly gentleman with his Dachshund, both with matching grimaces on their faces.

Rosie stopped short of the duo, her hair standing up on her back in a neck-to-tail mohawk. She lunged so hard my shoulder and its socket almost had the most unamicable divorce.

I smiled my best it’s-time-to-make-small-talk-with-a-stranger-at-6 a.m. smile, and said, “Do you mind if they say ‘hi’?” (Translation: “Is your dog due for a rectal exam?”)

I sensed some hesitation.

“… Otherwise, we might be following you home,” I attempted a giggle, which came out like the insane laughter in Salieri’s head during the final second of Amadeus.

The old man nodded and grumbled a response. Within seconds, Rosie’s mohawk melted into the furry pool of her back. Round and round the dogs circled each other, tails wagging out of control, Rosie’s snout so far under the dog’s tail I feared the old man and I would have to grab hold of her and yank it out.

I smiled at the old man and forced another giggle. If a full cavity search between dogs isn’t an ice-breaker, I don’t know what is.

But the ice was so thick one could drive a cement mixer over it. The old man pulled his dog away, and between us was a silent stretch as I searched my library of social graces for a departing comment.

“Well…thank you,” I stammered.

He nodded once more, then headed away.

And as I stood, leash in hand, it occurred to me that I’d just thanked a man for letting my dog probe his dog’s anus.

Sometimes, being socially awkward is entertainment.