I’m one of those annoying adults who only follows the rules that aren’t stupid. My trustworthy dogs, out in the woods, clamped onto leashes? Stupid rule. Not following it. Besides, their galloping ahead introduces me to wonderful people. Like the kinds of teenagers who don’t use Proactiv or attend Youth Group, who like to hide whatever they’re up to in the woods. Or, who like to hide themselves from the adults who don’t like them.
One day, the pups are barreling down the path when I see two teen boys walking toward us. Because I’ve been reamed by ramrod-straight adults in the past–There is a leash law, you know!–I call out, “They’re friendly!” I could’ve saved my holler, though. The guys–clad in scungy jeans and black t-shirts–are bending over to say hey to my dogs, at dog-level. When I catch up to them, the one kid smiles up at me. “They’re cool dogs!”
Now, I’m so used to the fury of leash-Nazi grownups, his words leave me stunned. So stunned, I forget my cheese-filter. As we part ways, I call out the corniest thing ever: ”Hey, thanks. You’re good kids.”
This time, I stun him. He and his friend stop, spin around. “Really? You’re the first person to say we’re good. Most people say we look evil.”
So that’s what they walk around knowing adults think of them. That they’re evil. I’ll tell you something, and I know this for sure: if you stoop down to pet some random dog who just came roaring up to you, you’re not evil. Not even a little bit.
Today, same trail, the dogs peel off to investigate what’s going on up there, by the side of the lake. It’s three teen guys, zero fishing poles, and a cardboard box that says ICEHOUSE. Just standing around, liking the feel of a sunny, breezy day on the lake. I keep my eyes on the pups, making sure they don’t pee on anyone’s sneakers, and give my line: “They friendly.” I get a pleasant chuckle, but no reply.
Feeling weird about interrupting their little party, I say, “Okay, dogs, let’s go.” But the dogs have gone deaf. “C’mon, dogs!” in the happy voice. Not a move.
“This is weird,” I say, finally looking up at their faces. They’re wearing that helpless smile and them red, red eyes. They’re stoned to the beejezus, and I scared the sweet shit out of them. To them, I’m the cops. My dogs are drug sniffers.
As I start clearing the hell out of there, to put their minds at ease I say, “They won’t leave! They really like you guys! Come on, dogs!”
There’s another chuckle as the dogs break free of their trance and follow me. We’re ten steps away when one of the guys responds.
“Hey, you wanna beer?”
In other words, “Hey, thanks for not judging us. Hey, thanks for getting it. Hey, thanks for not thinking we look evil.”
I didn’t look back as I called my “No thanks, dude.” I didn’t want ‘em to see my corny, grateful smile.
God, do I love them teens.
Leave a comment logged in to post a comment.You must be