23 October 2009

A boring story about a walk on a day where something seemed terribly wrong.

When I was walking the dogs in the morning, the fog was thick and dense and it was hard to know what time it was. The sky was light, but it wasn't changing and it could have been any time at all. Everywhere we walked, the air seemed the same, heavy and cold and the sky like a closed off box. Usually there is this heavy duty vibe of all magnificence and grandeur when I walk along the cliffpath. This day was all magnificence free, like when you thought Princess Diana was going to appear and instead it's just the guy that strums his guitar with a rabbit on his head. I don't know if it was the air, but the dogs acted docile and drugged, and trotted obediently in a little row the whole time. No one pulling. No one running. No one barking. Just trotted in a row. For a little while, I thought maybe they were sick. Like barfing coming, inevitably, sick. Then I thought just good behavior. But I think it was that something just seemed a little bit quiet, in a funny way. Not ha ha funny. Like in a way that if you think about it too long, would make your skin crawl, or your little arm hairs stick up all prickly. Was just the dogs noticing that, and made them walk cautious, and a little quiet, too, because they didn't know exactly what was wrong with the day.

I passed some people, and most of the people I passed had a scowl on their face. I walk around a lot. There's different rules about your face and what you do with it when you walk, about how you make your face look when you walk by a person. Different rules for walking at night, than in the day. Different rules for walking by the sea, than in the forest. Different rules if you're on the street downtown or on the street by your house. Different rules if you're a thin haired lady with a bald spot in baggy purple shorts and shirt matching ensemble from TJ Maxx than a teenager hoochie mama with so much hair streaming along behind. Not sure who made up these rules, but today they got screwed up.

When you walk real early, you pass a lot of old guys walking alone. Old wrinkled up faces, walking along side the sea. I always crack a smile at those guys, wonder if they have a wife and she can't walk or they don't have a wife and maybe this is it. Walking alone by the sea. Sometimes they crack a smile back and sometimes they don't. They don't break any rules, either way. But usually the some of the old guys, look sort of tough but walk pretty slow, crack a smile at my dogs. It's early. They can be a sight. But no smile cracking in the morning today. Every old guy I passed. The old lady version of the mens, usually easier to get them to say a word, maybe even stop and pet a dog. But no old ladies even out this day.

The usual walking ladies were out, in black tights and lovely baseball caps that are maybe even bedazzled and various waterproof pieces of outerwear, frequently plugged into ipods. Usually we do a quiet smile at each other, I think it's code for we are like each other, you and me. We're not very young and we're not very old and we know we are lucky to walk along the sea right now. Sometimes they walk and sometimes they run. Sometimes alone and sometimes in pairs. Sometimes even with a dog. Dog ladies always smile at other dog ladies. That's a rule. Knowing we are a lot more alike than we ever knew before, us and our dogs. Today though, almost all of them stayed downcast with the eyes. Against the rules. I wasn't mad because I sort of got it. Something wrong with the day.

Up ahead, I could hear a couple guys fighting on a park bench. Belligerant, asshole sounding fighting. It was early. Which could actually be really late depending on when you think night starts and ends. They both had on super large hoodies and the loudest yelling guy was waving around his cigarette, his ass plunked solidly down on one end of the bench. Other guy I see stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. Other end of the bench. When I was close enough to hear cigarette waver start really going off, "Don't f*&king talk to me again! AGAIN! Unless you have something f$%king good to say. F*&ker!" I made sure to look down. Because that's a pretty good rule. When it's drunk yelling going in endless circles, best to look down, and don't scowl or not scowl. It didn't ever end, as far as I could hear, just faded away behind me as we kept heading east.

It still didn't hurt my feelings that walking ladies and old guys did the same look down at me that I did at the yelling guys. Maybe some days it would. But today, I just knew that everybody knew it was a bad day.

I think usually, I look pretty ok when I'm walking. You know, like in the face. It's hard to scowl when you have such good dogs, dogs you can't help looking down at and think, damn. These are like the best dogs ever, and walking with them, that's a good time in life. There can be all this other crap, but the whole time I'm walking I can look at any one of them and blow my mind of luckiness that they are my dogs. Even running into the Crazy Orange Parka guy. Barely. I guess I did have a scowl when the Crazy Orange Parka guy rode by on his stupid sitting down bike. I used to see that guy every day, now I walk different places and different times and I don't have to see him as much.

I hate his parka and I hate his bike and I hate the way he wears thick wool socks under his sandals. I hate his nose skin and I hate the way his voice sounds when he rides up next to me to talk at me.

He rides up alongside me and goes, "So I saw a good joke in the Santa Cruz Sentinel today."

He always has a joke. He thinks it's a joke. A joke is better than his long story about dog bites or dog mace or interview poll about an opinion. Something that takes a long time. A joke is short, and I just stare at him. He's riding that stupid sitting down bike slow along side me and the dogs. I raised up an eyebrow, if he could see it under my shades. That was supposed to mean, get your stupid joke over with, Crazy Orange Parka guy.

"They predicted overcast weather today."

I laugh like this. Ha. Ha. And look away, which means, ride away on your stupid sitting down bike. It must not have been cold enough for him to put his socks under his bike riding sandals.

It's hard to explain, how just looking at that guy can put me in a bad mood, and how listening to him talk, for even a second, can make it worse.

We took the long way, just because, and ended up by the school at dropping kids off time. I just needed to cross one thin street. Not even a busy street, except, I guess, when it's time to drop kids off. SUV's and mini vans just kept going by, over and over in front of me. Not leaving a space for one lady and 3 small dogs to get across. They wouldn't stop. Had to get those kids to school. Never seen so many of them on one, thin street.

Finally, scowl on my face, I step out in front of a car. I don't even remember what. Either SUV or mini van. I swear, that's all that kept driving by. They stopped, I thought to smile and wave, but I don't think I did. Just walked along, 3 dogs trotting quietly, just behind my heels and we kept walking down the street. No dogs tried to go after any squirrels. I was starting to think, by now, light still not changing and only knowing the time by the bells from the church, that something happened somewhere, something to make this day like it was. Underground bomb testing. Someone dropped poison down from the sky. President got murdered. There's no more Santa Claus.

We just break into a little trot. Call it a dog trot. And keep going the last few blocks until we're home.

1 comment:

Mary Schultz said...

Not boring. Actually, quite suspenseful, not to mention insightful. (Hope the guy on the reclining bike doesn't read your blog. Or, maybe hope he does!)