By no means am I a confrontational person. I don't get in random arguments with people over a perceived slight or social faux pas. Like most, I'm a fan of Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" where Larry makes it his mission to alert people to their rude behavior and thoughtless abrogation of the human behavioral compact at every opportunity. Whether it's tsking someone for cutting in line or a poor parking job, Larry lets people have a piece of his mind. I would never normally do this—except the other day I had to.
It was because of a lady with a dog, and let me tell you right now: I am right about this.
I was running through Lincoln Park on what will be one of the last truly warm nights of the early fall, and I stopped, as I always do, a little over half-way through my route. There's a drinking fountain just north of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum where I always drink some water and kind of straggle around a bit before continuing on. I have a specific method: stop running, take long, satisfying drink from fountain, straggle around, look at the clouds/sunset/moon, take stock of life, recall numerous failures weighed against moderate successes, take short, abbreviated drink to hold me for second half of run, continue on.
It's an equation of drinking fountain drinking I particularly like in a routine I particularly enjoy. And it's not even that I mind sharing my moment of psychic solitude. I have no problem waiting for other runners to share in this wonderful, publicly-supplied water; it's their tax dollars too.
Yet this evening, I stopped at the drinking fountain to take my first long, satisfying drink, and during my straggle around/ stare at the moon time, a woman approached with her dog.
I already knew what was going to happen because I'd seen it before. The lady picked up her dog—don't ask for a description because they all look the same to me—and angled its head not into the large basin of water with leaves and twigs in it that should be the drinking territory for anything without an opposable thumb, but right over the faucet.
And of course because it's a dog, it doesn't know how to drink from a water fountain. It has no idea about drinking fountain etiquette that we all learned in pre-school, such as, don't try to fit your entire mouth over the drinking fountain spout. No, that dog just started licking at the water streaming from the spout, creaming its tongue all over the faucet, even getting as far as the little button.
Because I still had my second drink to come after my straggle time, this obviously annoyed me. No way could I put my face anywhere near that faucet now that I was witnessing this. I was about to keep running, as I had when I'd seen pet owners lift their beasts to this fountain before, but my eye-roll must have been epic. It must have been insane. I must have looked annoyed beyond comprehension because before I could take off, this lady says to me, "Is there a problem?
"Yeah," I said, stopping in mid-stride and turning back, all adrenaline and umbrage. "Yeah, there is. Can't you stick that dog's head in the basin where people don't have to drink? Why do you have to let it felate the entire water-spout-thingy?"
(In retrospect, the term "felate" was probably ill-advised for interaction with a stranger, but you didn't see what this dog was doing to this fountain.)
"Excuse me?" the lady said, offense brimming from eyebrows arched to the sky.
"Runners stop here all the time and you have to let your dog lick the entire apparatus that shoots off water. It's disgusting."
"Dog's mouths are cleaner than humans," she shot back at me.
“Oh, yeah! Sure they are,” I cried, because people always bring up this stupid myth when their
"Wow, what an unpleasant person," said the lady. "He's thirsty."
"Oh, because I don't want to drink after your dog? Because there's one of us who would gladly drink from a puddle, and it's not me? But no, please, let's go to a restaurant and I'll buy your dog a steak while we're at it."
Then the lady gave me a flippant wave of her hand, turned, and walked away. It was the most infuriating interaction because I wasn't even close to being done berating her, but all I could do was turn and keep on running. Then all I thought about for the rest of the night was how I'd love to find this woman on Facebook and just send her articles about how disgusting dogs mouths are. It also made me realize my life is composed only of intervals between episodes where I am shocked and appalled by people's obsequious behavior toward the one species of animals they've decided to not slaughter in combines and eat.