Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Dog is My Wingman (Just Not a Very Good One)

I don't date. I never really have. Of course, I find lots of men attractive. In preschool, I used to chase a little boy around the playground singing "Stop in the Name of Love." Once, when my mom took my best friend and I to the grocery store with her, we saw this little boy and my friend and I went into the empty checkout lane beside the one my mom had chosen, pulled down the microphone, and started singing "Stop in the Name of Love" over the grocery store speakers.

But, I tend to have unrealistic expectations for people. I don't have a typical type. Some athletes are nice to look at--and I know that lots of them are smart, but after I dated a lacrosse player who got a concussion when he tripped over a bench on the sidelines, I haven't had much interest in dating an athlete. Successful professional men are closer to my type, but I'm not really cut out for all the networking and socializing that comes along with that life. My ideal guy is someone who is exactly like Professor Bhaer from Little Women (a little older, smart, very patient and understanding of my independence) and also willing to drive a really big truck and live on a nice piece of land out in the country. If he's also into craft beer, baseball, and dogs, that's a big plus, too. Basically, I want a sophisticated, cowboy-English professor. Apparently, those are hard to come by. (This only encourages me to want to check out the Cowboy church I noticed on the way home from agility class a few weeks ago.)

Also, I really like love having alone time. The thought of having to check in with someone else before I go somewhere, buy something, plan something nauseates me. The thought of having to see someone else every single day when I get home from work is suffocating. I love being able to go where I want, when I want. I love waking up, deciding that I want to go on an adventure, and grabbing Barley's leash and hopping in the car without seeing what someone else wants to do. Once, when I was 16, I went over to help the boy that at that age I was naive enough to think I would one day end up married to with his trigonometry homework; when I walked into the house, I don't remember exactly what I saw--I think it was just him in casual non-school clothes sitting at the dining room table--but I remember thinking, "Oh God. This is what every day for the rest of my life will be like if I get married." I decided then and there that I'm in no hurry to commit to someone else.

I'd also need to buy a significantly bigger bed before committing to someone else.
Plus, I hate small talk. I hate getting to know other people. I'm not good at those sorts of conversations because I hate to feel like I have to work to connect with someone else (cue Billy Currington's "Like My Dog").

So, someone has to seem pretty special before I'm willing to work at a relationship and reign in my independence a little bit. That doesn't happen often.

But that doesn't mean Barley doesn't get me into awkward situations with guys regularly.

Sometimes, she keeps me from getting to know them. Once, an attractive biker at the lake slowed down and started chatting with me. Barley nipped at his tires. He quickly pedaled away. Recently, a guy who looked like he could at least be an educator--maybe a science teacher--who also was a little rugged and outdoorsy started chatting with me on the trail. Then it started to sprinkle. My diva dog doesn't do rain and started dragging me back down the trail towards the car.

Other times, she draws attention that I usually am not interested in. For example, this week, we were out walking after agility. It was a beautiful evening and there were a ton of people out with their dogs.  I usually just pull off to the side, turn my back to trail, and work "watch" with Barley and give her as many treats as she needs to stay sitting and calm. Between me being turned away from the people and the sight of our "I Need Space" leash, people usually say hi and keep moving, or comment on how well behaved Barley's being, or completely avoid us. I try to say hello or mention that they have a nice a dog, just so I don't seem like a total witch (that's the Southerner in me coming out). So, this week, a man--who actually I wasn't sure if he was a man until he spoke and androgyny is really not my type--was walking his pug. The pug was on a flexi and it didn't seem that the guy was interested in keeping the dog in close. I pulled off the trail very early and started working with Barley. The guy walked by, said hello, I said he had a cute dog. I kept focusing on Barley. Then I noticed the pug was stopped a few feet behind Barley. I looked up. I gave Barley another treat. Then the guy said, "So, are you just taking a break?" and it was clear from the way he said it and the way he looked at us that he thought we might take a break and chat with him--in the middle of the path when we were in a park where there are a ton of benches overlooking the river that we could have stopped at. I had to say, "No. She's just not good with other dogs," which caused him to look flustered, say "Oh. Oops," and walk away. Awkward.

Barley thinks anyone who wouldn't want to talk to us is crazy.
Then on the way back to the car, a cute park ranger was walking back towards his SUV. Barley has a thing for guys in uniform--I don't really, but she likes to try to visit every cop we ever see--and she started trotting with a little more pep in her step, her tail was extra curly and wagging, and she was staring him down. He looked at her, laughed, and stopped getting in his car. I said,"Hi, how are you?" He said, "Good, how are you?" and then after I replied, my hatred of small talk reared it's ugly head and I kept walking to the car. Maybe Barley needs to watch 101 Dalmatians, so she has some ideas on how to prevent me from walking away when she finds potential father figures for herself.

Today's awkward interaction involved walking past the bath house at the lake and seeing a young man peeing behind it. It was clear from his stance what he was doing, so I made sure we looked every where but at the bath house. Then he suddenly yelled at us, "Oh! I'm so sorry!" I can't blame him--for some reason, Ohio thinks that people who use their parks don't have to use the bathroom between Labor Day and Memorial Day--I thought my bladder was going to explode a few weeks ago because a bathroom--that I was so very excited to see--was locked and there were no leaves on the trees yet, so there was no hope of finding a private spot in the woods (which I have yet to have to do, but I was on the look out for a good woodsy spot). But again awkward.

Plus, who wants to look at awkward boys when it's such a pretty day at the lake.
So, Barley's trying really hard to add some male influence to her life, but not very successfully. 

Soth says he's not interested in making more room in bed, either.
Until she masters the art of being a wingman, I'm perfectly content with browsing the aisles at Barnes and Noble and Tractor Supply Company ;)

We're participating in the Barks and Bytes blog hop hosted by Heart Like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs.

Heart Like a Dog


  1. Thank you for joining the blog hop. That sure made me laugh, my but you were a tenacious child!

    I find most people are fairly friendly when I'm walking with my dogs. But like the guy with the pug, I'm finding a lot of people are clueless about dogs. In the last two weeks we've had three encounters with off-leash dogs in the street! It got to the point where I called Animal Control to see what would happen if Delilah were to hurt one of them because they were stalking her.

    Not that you asked, but I think if you are happy with your life then it's a perfect life for you. I love getting to know people, but that's me. But yes, having just celebrated my 24th wedding anniversary, I can see what you mean about coming home to the same person day after day. I'd say I was okay the first 15 years or so, the last 9? Meh.

    1. Most people at the park we were in are awesome when they see me pull Barley off to the side and say a quick hi without stopping, which is why we go to that park so often, but I had to kind of laugh about the poor pug guy! I guess my nonverbals were not clear enough signals that we weren't trying to stop to chat!

      I'm glad that you've called Animal Control! What did they say? Our trainer said that since there are leash laws in our county the off-leash dogs would be the ones at fault if something happened, but it probably wouldn't hurt for me to get the specifics from our animal control office, either.

      And thank you! I love my life. I think part of my problem with small talk is that I've never had to learn how to do it--I was in school from pre-school through grad school and always had classes, books, afterschool activities as built-in conversation starters; then I started working at a school and had students and lesson plans to get conversations started, so when it comes to meeting people outside of school, I have no idea how to make those conversations work! After I get past "Hi. How are you," I'm lost! And it's not even so much the idea of coming home to the SAME person every day that bothers me; my parents have been married over 30 years, my grandparents have been married several decades longer that than and I think it's beautiful, but the thought of having to share to space with somebody else and not having a spot that is all mine 100% of the time freaks me out. Maybe if I had a clubhouse with a "Girls Only" sign on the door, I could handle marriage ;)

  2. LOL - Barley likes men in uniforms! Love your post. Let us know if you do decide to check out that cowboy church.

    1. She is so goofy! I will definitely let you know if I decide to check it out. I'm so intrigued. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a cowboy church, so I kind of just want to see what it is.

  3. "I think it was just him in casual non-school clothes sitting at the dining room table--but I remember thinking, 'Oh God. This is what every day for the rest of my life will be like if I get married.'" Haha! Awesome post, Beth :-)

    If I were single, Memphis and I would be lady-killers. I can't walk him within the vicinity of the college without being stopped by freshmen girls wanting to pet him. Though to be fair, neither can Veronica, so maybe it's just Memphis :-)

    1. Haha, Memphis is a handsome pup, so I can see why the freshman girls go crazy for him! Hopefully he attracts better people for you and Veronica to chat with than Bar picks out for me!

  4. Thanks for joining our hop. Sorry I am a week late. I was out of town and let me tell you there are no rest areas in Wisconsin (or none that I saw), so I completely identify with the lack of bathrooms I have been married a long time. I never thought of a dog helping, or hurting, with meeting Maybe should have tried it.

    1. I'm just getting caught up after being out of town, too, and we also experienced the lack of rest areas along our route! Even when we did come across a few, several of them were closed (and always at the most inconvenient time!). As for meeting people, I think picking out such a weird looking dog who looks like she's smiling at everyone we see and has a huge, plume-y, curly tail just tends to attract attention--whether we want it or not! :)