The one excuse is the hour. The hard fact–the dog keeps hammering your arm with his nose and, no matter how early it is, when an 80 pound dog begins to pummel your arm you pay attention. Abandon the remaining caffeine; grab something from the closet; find a plastic bag; hook on the leash; open door; keep pace with the 80 pound dog hurling down the stoop. He leads the procession across the street to his preferred pee spot and then continues to the corner when you realize that you’ve forgotten your mask. Since you live in a state where mask wearing is universally accepted as a very very effective, patriotic, thing to do, you now have a huge problem on your hands.
You turn back. He prances along until he spins out the full length of his leash and then sits down in the direction of your usual route. Several seconds are spent trying to reason with him–the house is RIGHT THERE! It’ll only take a SECOND!–followed by attempts to drag him. He decides to lie down on the sidewalk.
Option: Tie him to a traffic sign pole.
First Reality: Rescued four months ago, he has a ton of issues, one of which is the perception that you, his main squeeze, is abandoning him. Within seconds, he’ll curl into a massive, quivering, ball. If trying to reason with a fairly happy 80 pound dog is impossible, consider an 80 pound dog going into psychic distress and, thus, possibly wiping out all the progress he’s made to his current somewhat assured presence.
Bottom line: Animals are not at all concerned about humans contracting a dangerous virus that rapidly sickens and kills.
Second Reality: You are going to the park without a mask.
As expected, your naked face is greeted with stares. A popular response is to make a sharp swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid you.
Option: Pull your shirt neckline up and pinch it close to your nose.
Reality: The fabric will not stretch that far.
You start frantically searching for one of those disposable blue masks that you always see on the ground. Yes, there’s the possibility of contracting a vast amount of germs beyond Covid, but that’s the price you’re going to have to pay to do the right thing. You scan the sidewalk, the gutter, the crosswalk. Not a one.
You do your Covid scream thing.
Meanwhile, the dog bounds happily into the small park filled with early morning exercisers. Really, it’s become a gym where you have your choice of social distance participation in Tai Chi, yoga, aerobics, weight training and ballet practice. The daily burpee competition is in full swing among a bevy of shirtless, already admiringly muscular, young men. You pretend you are the master and attempt to lead the dog to the less populated patches. However, per established routine, he insists on flopping his 80 pounds down on various patches of dewy sweet clover and joyfully roll around.
Everyone remotely nearby quickly scrams. And so it goes for a good half hour. Message received by all: You’re a piranha, a killer swimming about them.
You finally succeed in getting the dog to think about heading home. There’s so many new and enticing smells along the way that it seems hours before you reach your door. He scampers in and returns gleefully to his job of demolishing a huge bone. You make sure you’ll never, ever, go out naked again by hooking several masks to the leash.
Editorializing postscript: At times in my life, I’ve been known to be a tenacious obstructionist when it comes to rules and regulations. Given that, I find myself understanding a little how people, who live in an area of the country that has not experienced the full impact of the virus, may feel affronted by being told to wear a small piece of cloth over their mouth and nose. I can grasp why it would be hard to take seriously a national crisis if you haven’t personally suffered the consequences of becoming gravely sick or not being able to be with a loved one when they expel their last breath. Individualism is tattooed in American’s bones and I celebrate it.
For me, though, it abides along side an enormous pride in America’s historic striving to eventually do the right thing. You can say it isn’t fair to compare your hometown with those on the northeast/south/west coast states. You’re neighbors and community are just fine. But the fact is, it took only a few individuals to bring the virus to my hometown. My aunt is 91 years old, as fragile as a porcelain tea cup, and lives in the kind of retirement community that was devastated this spring. My sister and eldest son have serious underlining conditions that a virus would feast on. The husband and I find ourselves in the “at risk” line. The reality is that when you bet on the virus not homing in on where you live you’re putting your own people on the table.
Be open to consider this: The cold and flu season is two and a half months away and viruses have a pesky way of joining forces. Who knows how severe the season will be! You’ll surely know someone who will come down with one of them. Protect them by expressing your American individualism by picking up a mask in a pattern and style that shouts out your take on the Constitutional freedoms. Why take the chance of causing harm because of some fracas over a bit of fabric or an 80 pound dog?