So I'm a little bit on the shy side. I thought living in New York beat it out of me, but it came back when I moved to D.C. It might be because there's a whole lot of judgmental people here-- the nature of the game in a town that runs a good portion of the world. Or maybe it's because I lived for many years by myself, and as the Human Male puts it, I went "a little feral".
Whatever it is, I get a little nervous in social situations. Having Alice has helped a lot-- I always have a conversation piece. Today, however, I failed miserably.
A friend of mine sent me an e-mail this afternoon, asking if I'd go with her to check out some lamps she found on Craig's List. The house was a couple of miles from my house, and she didn't want to go alone in case they were serial killers and not lamp dealers. Figuring that I didn't really have anything better to do than to potentially get killed close to home tonight, I said of course, and went home earlier than I typically do to meet her.
It ended up that the sellers were an incredibly nice young couple with a sweet little boy, so my evening plans ended early. It was a bit on the chilly side but still light out, so Alice and I braved it and went to the Dog Park.
Now that it's light out later, the Park was pretty packed. I've found that dog people go to the Park at pretty set times-- if you go at a set time, you're apt to see the same people. If you go at another hour, the visitors change. Today was a good mix of dogs we knew and dogs that were new.
So we're walking along, and a girl and her mom walks by. The girl looked kind of familiar, but so did the girl who owned the house with the lamps. She smiles and says to her mom, "Oh, look-- it's one of our neighbors!"
I look at her dog, and my first thought is that it might be Rocco-- same coloring and about the same size. But his head looks... different. And he's wearing a pink collar.
Then I think that maybe she's someone who the Human Male's run into while taking Alice out (we've cut a deal that he'll take Alice out while it's unbearably cold to me, and I'll take her out when it's stifling hot to him). But the owner looks so... familiar.
Basically, I find myself paralyzed between acting like I know her or acting like she knows my dog and has no idea who I am. Since I'm rendered extra stupid anytime I'm cold, tired, hungry, feeling fat, having a bad hair day, not sure if my makeup looks okay, wearing black, out in public, or all of the above-- as I was tonight-- I couldn't think of how to respond and just smiled.
She then starts talking to Alice by name. My mind starts racing-- I can't place this girl at all. She's referring to my dog by name, and I just figured out that her dog's female.
Thank goodness, my neighbor Laura appears out of nowhere. Laura's one of those people who's never met a stranger-- and she knows all the dogs in the building by name.
"Bella! Oh, how are you beautiful girl?" she yells to the dog.
That's when I remember her.
Last Saturday, Bella stopped by and said hello. And by hello, I mean she walked into our house and made herself at home. We talked to the girl for quite some time, too, and she was really nice (I'm going to use the Clark Kent defense for not recognizing her right away-- her hair was wet when she came over on Saturday and she, um, looked different).
You would think that when a dog you'd never met before comes over for a visit and asks what's for dinner, you'd remember her. But it wasn't the first time. It wasn't even the first time that week.
We live on the first floor of our building by the area known lovingly as "Potty Hill". So we have a lot of very friendly dogs pass by and say hi regularly as they go out or run around in the fire lane. And sometimes they can't tell the difference from their house, a friend's house, or a stranger's house, and walk right in. For example, our first weekend in our apartment, a neighbor lab came in and said hi. Earlier last week, a pug and Italian greyhound stopped in for a chat. It's really just a funny, charming part of our building-- the Human Male and I love it.
Once I could place the name and how we knew them, I could say hi to the dog and make a small-talk comment about how she hasn't stopped by this week. Hopefully the next time we run into the girl, I won't be cold, tired, hungry, feeling fat, having a bad hair day, not sure if my makeup looks okay, wearing black, out in public, or all of the above, and we can have a new friend in the building.
Everyone, please don't let me forget this time.