The heavy woman with short, blonde hair and a red face and ugly jeans says, “What a pretty puppy! Are you a pretty puppy? Yes, that’s a pretty puppy!” when I walk by with my dog that has white fur and light feet.
When I walk by, I am close enough that if I stretch out my arm I can touch her. I am pleased when she compliments my dog, even though it is eight years old and not a puppy.
Still, I am pleased. I think my dog is pretty, too. So when I have almost passed her and the small synapsis between us has nearly disappeared, I loosen my grip on the leash in my hand and let my dog walk towards her and press its nose into her jean thighs that I imagine are soft and warm and stale.
She immediately raises both her hands in surrender, and although she does not stop smiling, I see the muscles in her face that created the smile slacken, and everything grows still like she has switched off her head and is ready to remove it.
I shorten the leash again and pull my dog away from her. I keep walking, angry now with the woman who said my puppy was pretty but who I now suspect was lying, who could have thought my puppy wasn’t pretty at all, and wonder when I will forget her.