I almost talked to the dog I like today. I was hanging around 14th Street like I often do, and suddenly I saw the dog walk out from behind a planter box, and I broke out into a cold sweat. I'd spent the last hour rehearsing for this, but now that the dog was there in front of me, what could I do?
I took a deep breath and marched up to the dog, and I was so close to just holding my hand out to sniff, but then something just froze up inside me and I couldn't. The dog just stared at me for a minute with its beautiful little face and then trotted off in search of a smell.
Why am I so shy around this dog? I've talked to a million dogs, given them pats and biscuits, but this dog is different and I need everything to be perfect. What am I afraid of? Can a dog reject a person? Not in my experience.
I wonder what that dog is doing now. Sometimes I think about the dog and wonder if it needs walkies. Today at school I caught myself whistling and jingling my keys in my pocket a little bit, kind of daydreaming that maybe the dog I like would run up and be all happy and ready for walkies.
I told my friend about the dog I like, but he didn't seem to understand how important it was. I told him I was too shy to pet the dog, and he said "it's just a dog," which in a way is true, but also he just doesn't know how it feels. He told me that maybe I'm just shy, and I'll grow out of it when I'm older. That could be years, though. What if the dog is dead by then, and I've missed my chance?
I was in the car today, coming home from the grocery store with my dad, and we drove past that fence on 14th Street that I spend so many afternoons watching. I felt like my heart was going to stop if I saw the dog I like, so I tried to keep my eyes closed as we went past. But we reached a stop light and I opened my eyes, and there it was.
I told my dad to stop, and he asked why, and I told him I had to watch this dog for a minute. He was like, "you want to look at a damn dog? There's a hundred dogs on our block," and it was all I could do to get the words out: "not like this dog, dad."
So he pulled the car over and he was like "fine, go pet your dog, but make it quick," and I just said "no, no, no, keep driving, the dog will see!"
I saw that dog again. It looked so happy! It was playing with another dog, and they were frolicking around and fighting over a Frisbee. I don't know whose Frisbee it was, but I like to think that the dog I like brought it from its apartment.
I felt a little bit jealous that somebody else was playing with my favorite dog, but then I felt guilty. Do I really want the dog to be sad just because I'm not the one making it happy? If I really cared about the dog, wouldn't I want it to be happy no matter what? I think I'm just angry at myself that I still haven't told the dog how I feel.
After they had played for a while, the dog I like pooped, and it seemed a little bit undignified, but at the same time it made me feel closer to it.
I promised myself that I'd talk to the dog I like today, or else I'd never go to 14th Street again. I took a doggie biscuit and walked to my usual spot by the church. To my surprise, the dog was already there, like it was waiting for me. We locked eyes, and the dog I like slowly approached me.
It was all I could do to stammer "hi, doggie…" and hold out the treat. The dog took the biscuit gingerly from my hands with its little front teeth and gently set it down at my feet.
"Harf," it said, and trotted briskly away. I knew that it was over.
Elliot said my breakup must have been due to the sweater curse, an unexplained phenomenon where anyone who gives their significant other a hand-knit sweater gets dumped. The only way to break the curse, Elliot said, was to destroy the sweater.
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