tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana
thefourthvine

[Poll] Tuesday in the Park with the Earthling. And Strangers.

Ever since I realized, back in college, that I was dropping social cues with the kind of consistency most people reserve for breathing, I have maintained two mental lists, and I spend at least a small part of every day going over them: Social Cues Dropped (But at Least, in Retrospect, I Know What I Was Supposed to Do or Say) and Social Clues Dropped (No Clue What Should Have Happened.) I am pleased to say that the second list is generally shorter these days than it used to be. (The other one is much, much longer. But this post is not about my oddities.)

There is also a third mental list that I update less frequently. It is probably best titled simply WTF?, although I think of it as Other People's Mistakes.

Today, I had an interaction that I am tentatively slotting into the third category, but I'd like your opinion on it.

Because of an unexpected appointment cancellation, I took the earthling to the park rather later than is usual. After some time on the swings and the playset, the earthling went into climb-every-mountain mode and began slogging up the highest hill in the park.

At the top of that hill is a stone bench and table. When we got there, there was a man, middle-aged and normal looking, sitting on the bench, and a dog, one of those big silky collies that always look dignified even when they are running into trees, sitting at his feet. (This one did not, while I watched, run into a tree, but I will never forget seeing a collie do that. It changed my view of them forever.) When we got near the bench, the earthing experienced summit sadness and began refusing to go in any direction that was not further up, which was problematic, since we were as high as we could go. Observing me negotiating with the earthling, the normal (looking) man leaned over and said to me, thoughtfully:

"You know, I think my dog is the love of my life."

"Yes, dogs are wonderful," I said, most of my mind on the earthling.

"I've never felt this way about anyone else," he said.

"They're really wonderful," I agreed, starting to feel like I was joining a conversation already in progress.

"She's sure better than any woman," he said, sort of chuckling. Then he paused, and in a low, more personal tone added, "Or any man."

"...Oh?" I said.

"I really do love this dog. I mean love this dog," he continued. "People can't understand that, but it is what it is and I don't regret it." He paused for a second, then added, "I just wish people were open-minded. That's what I always say: keep an open mind."

"That's, um, nice. You have a good day, now," I said, and scooped up the earthling and carried him, protesting vigorously, toward the car.

So, my question to you people is: was that as weird as it felt at the time? And if so, when did it go off the rails?

Poll #1480467 Weird or not?

Was that conversation weird?

Totally not. I've had that conversation, like, five times this month.
2(0.3%)
Um, a little bit, maybe, but I have weirder conversations every day.
6(0.8%)
Yeah, it was weird. I mean, he probably was just expressing himself strangely, but seriously, dude, choose your words with more care.
118(16.6%)
Totally bizarre. Really, people should restrict those sorts of confessions to the internet.
193(27.2%)
...I'm sorry, I'm still all distracted by wondering exactly what that man's relationship with his dog really is. What was the question?
390(55.0%)

If you thought it was weird, where did it go off the rails?

First thing he said. Who opens a conversation that way? What happened to "hello"?
281(39.7%)
Second thing he said. No talking about feelings at the park, mister.
142(20.1%)
Third thing he said. Your relationship history is something you should reserve for people whose first names you know.
126(17.8%)
Fourth thing he said. Did he, um, mean what it sounded like he meant?
158(22.3%)
I repeat: I really don't think that was weird.
1(0.1%)
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