‘Excuse me, is it compulsory to walk your dog every day?’
I give the enquirer a quick once over: Severe glasses and a strict haircut. A red patent leather coat and a pair of trousers in a shade of brown that I have not witnessed since the 70s. A little out there for a 10am walk in the park, but who am I to judge.
‘Errm, what do you mean?’ I say.
‘Is it compulsory to walk your dog every day?’
She says it more slowly this time, annunciating each word carefully, possibly thinking I’m a foreigner (correct), or, perhaps, that I am a few spanners short of a toolkit (mainly incorrect).
I look around the park: fur balls small and large are darting around sniffing each other’s butts and decking any available patch of grass with their excretions, yet out of the tens of dog walkers in her line of vision she has picked me. Could it be that she’s referring specifically to MY dog? After all, being a Bulldog, he’s of a breed often considered to have a face that only a mother could love. Perhaps she’s not so much asking me a question, as giving me a direction, as in ‘Do you HAVE to walk YOUR dog every day?’ Perhaps she’s been monitoring my dog walking patters for months, waiting for the right time to approach me about this rather distressing situation, having finally picked up the courage to do so.
I say, ‘Yes, they kind of need to pee.’
‘Oh, I see.’ She says. Then continuing with ‘Because, you know, I’ve never had a dog.’
“No sh*t.” I think, immediately realising that “No sh*t” is exactly what would be required of a dog in her care.
I smile awkwardly, backing away slowly as I do so. I pull on Ramsay’s lead gently, having noticed just how keenly he’s inspecting her ‘to an acquired taste’ brown hued trouser legs, in all likelihood about to mistake them for a tree trunk.
Although a demonstration as to just why dogs need to be walked on a daily basis would be well placed, I am not sure the pants in question are in circulation anymore should a replacement be required, so I am glad when we leave the tête-à-tête without further incident.
On hindsight I can’t help but admire her ‘get up and go’ attitude. This question may have been weighing on her mind for decades, and there she was, on a bright May morning, pulling her finger out once and for all.
This got me thinking about some questions that have been bothering me for some time, namely:
- Is it compulsory to toot the horn at traffic lights if the car in front fails to move within 0.04 seconds of the lights turning green?
- Is it compulsory for a man to take (and pass) online courses in a) How to be a letch b) How to successfully lie about your height and/or age and/or marital status and c) How to take images from challenging angles prior to being able to enrol on a dating site?
- Is it compulsory to leave skid marks in public toilets out of consideration for the toilet user behind you just in case they happen to be a nutritionist concerned for the state of your ability to achieve satisfactory bowel movements?
- Is it compulsory for an owner of a convertible car to a) drive with the roof down as soon as the temperatures hit plus 12 degrees and b) blast out Craig David at a level that will cause tinnitus for anybody within a 100 yard radius?
- Is it compulsory to shake ones head and exclaim ‘you don’t know what you’re missing’ if a person tells you that they haven’t watched a single episode of Game of Thrones and have no intension or interest in doing so as it would rob them of three days and 34 minutes of their life?
Perhaps the lady in red (and brown) was right. We should not hold on to the questions that weigh down on us, but be forthright in our quest for answers.
I for one know that I will be sleeping better tonight safe in the knowledge that I have finally dared utter what has concerned me for some time.