I’m very busy right now writing Island Magic, the next in my Sleight of Hand series, but I wanted to take a break and tell you a story (almost entirely true, I swear) about something that happened to me this weekend.
First of all, meet Freddy, my Yorkie. He’s my life coach, my best friend, and, at times, my muse. Or at least he lets me bounce ideas off him when there’s nobody else around to listen. Freddy doesn’t say much, but he does let me know when it’s time to take a break, and I’ve found my walks with him can help clear the fuzzies out of my head better than just about anything else.
On one of these recent walks, Freddy and I are walking along minding our own business when a woman we’ve never met suddenly greets us with great enthusiasm.
I admit, I wasn’t sure she was talking to me. Freddy’s the one who attracts the most attention on our walks. And even I am bad about looking at the dog before I look at the owner most of the time. However, this woman not only waved and called, but actually crossed the road to speak to us. Okay, I’m bad with names but I’m not bad with faces, and I was pretty sure I’d never seen this woman in my life. I shot Freddy a suspicious glare and he protested his innocence by barking and sniffing the woman’s feet.
“Oh my, she’s getting big, isn’t she?” The woman laughed at Freddy’s antics.
Okay, that settled it. The woman didn’t know us. Freddy’s all boy except he’s been snipped and doesn’t really think of himself that way anymore. But what was the harm in letting the woman call Freddy a she? It didn’t bother me. It didn’t bother him. And we didn’t know this woman anyway.
In spite of this, we chatted a good two or three minutes before I finally made motions to leave. At this point, the woman taught me a valuable lesson. Making a face, she said in a confidential voice as if talking about something shameful, “You know, there’s a little boy Yorkie in the neighborhood too.” She peered at Freddy as if afraid he’d grow little boy parts. Then she nodded, satisfied. “But she just looks like a girl.”
Honestly, I could have sunk through the ground right then. Half of me wanted to own up to the fact that I’d basically lied to her the entire time we’d been standing there discussing Yorkies. The other half was terribly afraid she’d be mortified by her mistake. Escpecially after she’d pretty much let on that little boy Yorkies were something distasteful. I managed to make my escape much more gracefully than normal, however. “Well, after they’ve been fixed, it really doesn’t matter much, does it?” I laughed and waved and fled, Freddy in tow.
Being who I am, of course, I made the whole incident up into something quite philosophical by the time I got home. If I’d gently corrected the woman in the beginning, I might have avoided that particular awkwardness, and, I wondered, were there other aspects of my life I could apply this to? If I start out right on other things, will it finish up better? I’m always telling my kids that we follow rules—even those that we see other people breaking—because we don’t want to make the people around us feel badly.
Maybe I need to follow my own advice sometimes.