*Caveat. This is not really a story about my dog… bear with me. It’s important.
Derpy Dog made it through his surgery with flying colors. The first night was quite challenging. While he didn’t appear to be in much pain, the after affects of anesthesia kept poor puppy on edge and we both spent a pretty restless night.
My little dude is powerfully motivated by victuals, which isn’t unusual for labs. He didn’t let a little thing like an operation, pain meds, sedatives and nearly no sleep to derail breakfast the next morning. At 5AM sharp he was up, announcing to me in no uncertain terms that he was ready to eat. And here I had the misguided notion that for once we’d get to sleep in.
After breakfast, his routine is to go out and do his business. It was god awful early and I wasn’t at my best, but I figured we were unlikely to run into anyone on the sidewalk, right? (That’s foreshadowing kids, in case you were wondering.)
So there I am, in my pj’s and flip flops, hair a hot mess. I’ve got sleep in my eyes, a puppy with a cone on his head and a bag of poop in my hand. Elegant and poised, I was not. The neighborhood was quiet and I had thought I had gotten away with it when around the corner saunters a young man, somewhere in his late 20’s.
I put on my best please-don’t-talk-to-me expression. Regrettably it didn’t pass muster, for he came right over and asked me if I knew where Spling Street was. I swear, that’s what he said. Spling Street. I said I had no idea and took evasive maneuvers, heading between the buildings towards the dumpster with my odoriferous baggie.
That’s when I had a frightening moment – he followed me, barraging me with personal questions that I made no move to answer. In a moment of ghastly clarity, I realized my error – I had just put him between myself and the only egress. Behind me was a fenced parking lot. In front of me was the driveway to the street and a man significantly larger than me.
This story has a happy ending, I swept past him and got indoors in a blink of an eye. I have no idea what his intentions were or what kind of person he was. It’s likely I wasn’t in any real danger. However, it strikes me that we live in a society where my immediate thought was, this is unsafe.
It infuriates me when some middle aged, white curmudgeon claims that rape culture is a myth; that it “leads to hostile environments for innocent males.” It’s women that are traversing a viperous climate. I’m not a shrinking violet, I live in a relatively safe neighborhood, and still my knee-jerk reaction was fear. This isn’t a personal neurosis, but a conditioned response based on how women experience the world.
How disgusting that violence against women is so commonplace that our reflex is to suspect that every man means us harm. It’s not ok. It shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored or justified.