OYM Day 55: Dogs & Babies
There are some things you just have to like, otherwise people will look at you different. And I guess there’s really no problem with being different, but I’ve always been one to prefer coasting under the radar, observing and hypothesizing, and not flying my freak flag for all to see. Just my preference.
With that being said: dogs & babies. Never liked em’. Never wanted to pet them or hold them or call them my own. Dogs were always too excited. They’d piss on my shoes, get little dog boners, and try to probe my butt or crotch almost immediately. Owners would yell things like “STOP THAT, HERCULES” or “GET OFF OF HER, OSCAR”, like some little heathen with bad impulse control.
Babies just flat out scare me. Once, in elementary school, I was visiting a friend Tabitha at her house and her mother had just had a baby boy a few months back. The baby was wiggling around on a blanket on the floor. Tabitha and I looked down at him and she told me how she wished she had gotten a sister. I wondered how long I would have to feign interest in her little brother, drooling and making strange noises, looking like a miniature grandpa. I was much more interested in ordering pizza and swimming in her pool. I had her cordless phone in my hand, ready to dial in for some Papa Johns (gross, right?) and then slip. The phone fell out of my hands and smack dab on that baby. He screamed and I immediately wanted to run out of the house and into the bushes. Tabitha’s mother walked over, picked up the baby, and kept her eyes on the TV set, unfazed. He was fine, but it sure surprised him. I didn’t eat pizza after that. I mean…how could I? I almost flattened a baby.
Babies are fragile and foreign to me. I wasn’t around them enough to understand that they were the same species as me. But even more than that, they were helpless and having one in my arms only magnified my inability to take care of myself. The thought of someone needing me to survive…it hurt my stomach and made me want to be far away. I wanted nothing to do with any of it.
As I got older and my friends started having babies, of both the human and furry varieties, I could avoid it less and less. There were dogs just about everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Chicago is one of the most pet friendly cities in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a glass jar of dog biscuits at the gynecologist’s office. And babies, well, they’re everywhere, too. Even worse, babies seem to take my friends. See ya in a year or two, pal!
Then, I read an article. The infamous phrase. But it’s true. I read an article and it said something about how when you smile, your brain associates whatever you’re smiling at with something positive. I wondered if I could smile at things I don’t like and start thinking positively about them. I could smile at steamed cabbage, slow walkers, old men, racists, round-toed shoes, Nicholas Cage, the little muscular gymnasts from Cirque du Soleil. I didn’t really need to like any of these things, though. It didn’t wield anything positive in return for me. So, I settled on dogs & babies.
I spent the next few years making it a point to smile at peoples dogs and babies, turning it into a quick-draw habit. When I walked to work, waited for a coffee, sat on the bus, or met friends at the park. A smile here, a smile there. Quick! A baby coming! SMILE. Old nasty dog at 1 o’clock! SMILE. And guys… I have to tell you. IT WORKED.
Yesterday I applied to adopt a dog. ME. I somehow hope I don’t get the little guy, but if I do, you KNOW I’m going to give it the best life. I also have a daughter. ME. Can you believe it? My kid is the cutest, most loving, curious, wiggly, mouth full of little teeth, eyes like the ocean, rosy cherub on the planet. EVER. She’s everything to me. And when I see my friends kids and meet their little babies, I say things like GIMME THAT BABY, and I really mean it. I want to hold them and buy them clothes and be special to them. You’re already writing a list of things you can start smiling at, aren’t you?!
And I kinda like dogs! FUR REAL! See, I make dog jokes, too! I stop and pet dogs. I want to know their name. I look them deep in the eye as if to tell them, I’m working on it. And because they’re dogs, they totally understand.
Not only am I in the good graces of dogs & babies, I’m getting high fives from their owners! They’d have zero idea that just years prior I was like NO, THANKS!
So, there you have it. The blog post that is about to change your life. You’re welcome.