I was out with Hastings, my Labradoodle, at Magnuson Park the other day when he spotted a frisky old French bulldog at the gate. They sniffed briefly, started playing together, and soon some action was going on, if you know what I mean. I thought little of it, but then a lady approached and asked point blank if my dog was “intact.” Confused but wanting to impress her, I said, “Um, sure, he likes to play around a little.” But I have no idea what she meant or why she was asking me. Have you heard this expression? Do you think she was really interested in me? She was quite a bit older than me. Was she tactless to ask?
Up Half the Night Wondering
Dear Up Half the Night,
If Hastings is “intact,” then I don’t see why you should get between him and some companionship. Do you have a problem with bulldogs generally? Or French ones in particular? You don’t sound like one of those “freedom fries” jingoists. Maybe you have some unexamined hang-ups about your dog’s sexuality?
Look, Up Half the Night, it’s spring. The season of new life and new love. That’s something I found myself contemplating while circumambulating Green Lake on one of the perfect evenings we’ve had recently. Watching the ghostly white peak of Mount Rainier sliding along behind the trees, I reflected that…Look, I’m not one to subject myself to a lot of self-criticism. Inhale only positive energy, as my yoga teacher likes to say. But if I were to make one self-observation, I might venture to say that excessive taciturnity may be an impediment to…What I’m trying to say is, I’m just not good at meeting women.
I’m putting myself out there, OK? So I hope you will also be willing to make yourself vulnerable and admit you’re attracted to this woman, and that you know just what she meant. Because that leads me to my main point, the whole issue of being intact and being tactful. You have the chance to be both. Your dog’s impulse toward the other dog is a wide boulevard, lined with spring flowers, leading to the woman in the park. See, she’s the one who brought up your dog’s equipment, so you can go with that general topic without disrespecting her gender. A benevolent dome of permission hangs over you, like Betty Friedan’s fleshy face smiling in the sky. Progressive consciousness, animal instinct, and the new season are all moving in the same direction. Surrender to this great harmonic convergence. Go back to the park with Hastings, and connect with that woman and with your own slumbering state of intactness. When you get to know that woman better, you’ll know for sure she’s tactful. Because it’ll be your tact she’s full of.
Dear Uptight Seattleite,
I’m walking down the street in Beacon Hill the other day when I see a lady across the street waving like mad. I don’t recognize her but don’t want to be rude. So I wave back. Then I see that she’s actually waving at someone behind me, and I feel like an ass. What can I do to avoid this in the future?
There’s only one answer. We have to ban waving. I don’t mean all waving—there’s no need to turn our city into some sort of sanitized Singapore. Just irresponsible waving. Non-mindful waving. If you want to wave at someone, you should first point at that person. So everyone knows whom you mean to wave at. You should continue pointing throughout the waving process, in case anyone missed the initial pointing. Point, wave, point, wave. Like that. If, despite this precaution, a stranger waves back at you by mistake, the onus is on you, as the originator of the wave, to show that their embarrassment is shared by you, and in a larger sense by all of us, as part of the human condition. Smile broadly and shake your head in wonderment at the wackiness of the situation. Spin around and wave clownishly at everyone on the street. Laugh in a maniacal, free-spirited manner. If we start from a place of responsibility, there’s no reason why waving can’t co-exist with other acceptable greeting procedures.
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