My sister has a lot of work drama. She’s the only nurse in a doctor’s office with mostly women. In my experience, a workplace with mostly women breeds a lot of work drama. Her workplace is not an exception to my experience. I get to hear all about this work drama as my sister offloads it onto me like a dump truck. I let the words wash over me without sinking in and nod in agreement or disapproval while playing Candy Crush Saga on my phone. While both of us were raised with manners and would normally find distracted candy smashing during a conversation the height of rudeness, it doesn’t bother her. She’s told me that she doesn’t really even care whether I listen or not; she just needs to talk and I let her.
I rarely have work drama of my own. If I do, it’s a sentence or two. My boss is a jerk. My coworker fell asleep at his desk again. I don’t get paid enough. Today, I found a decapitated cat on our front lawn.
One day, my sister said to me, “You don’t have work drama; you have dog park drama.” I thought about it and it’s true. Rarely do I come home from work with work drama, but I tend to come back from the dog park with stories. My sister has only been to the dog park a few times, but she knows most of the people and dogs anyway, because I tell her about them.
A few weeks ago, there was a fight. The dog park has the occasional dog fight, usually over dog toys that some idiot brought in. You’re not really supposed to bring personal toys because dogs fight over them. There are plenty of communal tennis balls littering the park. This fight in particular was not really so much between dogs, but owners. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
There’s a huge black dog that goes to the dog park who is aptly named Demon. He’s not fixed and causes trouble wherever he goes. Just having him in the dog park causes a commotion. Even if Demon is not personally involved, just his presence causes dogs to get all riled up. What’s worse is that Demon’s owner cannot control her dog.
This particular day, Demon was there and got into a fight with a big white husky. The husky was bleeding. An uninvolved man, not the husky’s owner, decided to put Demon in-between the entrance gates and separate him from the herd.
Demon’s owner, still far away from the action, lumbered over and started yelling at the man who had touched her dog. “How dare you touch him! Don’t hurt my dog!” Yadda yadda. She finally got face to face with the guy who segregated her dog. I was far enough away that I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I gathered that they were yelling at each other.
She let Demon out of dog park purgatory and he went right for the white husky again. That’s when all hell broke lose. By hell breaking lose, I mean her tenuous grasp on sanity. That broke lose. The man walked away from her snowballing craziness and rightly so, but it was too late. He had already poked the beast by segregating her dog. She followed him.
You’ve all seen a Bruce Lee movie, right? If you haven’t, go watch one now, because Bruce Lee is a total badass. I’ll wait.
OK, so you know that calm, cool, calculated way that Bruce Lee could look? You know how he could simply twitch a muscle and instill pants-peeing fear? Or the way that he could move his appendages so quickly that his arms and legs became a blur of impending death?
Got it? OK, now imagine the absolute opposite of that. Imagine an older woman who thinks she is that, yet she is not calm, fast nor in possession of fists of fury, but she’s going for it anyway. Imagine flailing limbs creaking and cracking under the unexpected strain of having to move in a way that hadn’t been required of them in decades. Imagine flying high kicks that aren’t so much flying, high or even, in fact, kicks, but are more like the tepid leg movements of a newborn horse.
Got it? In the painfully prolonged and awkward encounter that I couldn’t look away from, she did manage to knock off someone’s hat and punch an innocent bystander’s shoulder before she fell unceremoniously to the ground. She did a very good job of seeming to need the restraint that her friend was providing, though I would imagine all it would have taken to spurn her less than furious attacks was a slight breeze. This insanity went on forever or at least three minutes of laughable high kicks and flailing limbs, whichever is longer. At one point, she even tried to rip off her shirt like a professional wrestler. Fortunately, she didn’t get very far. The shirt was far too strong of an opponent.
That’s my drama. And it’s damn hilarious.
Last October, I wrote about a newcomer to the dog park who was too nice:
“There’s a lady at the dog park who just started coming in the last few weeks. She’s very nice and friendly. Yesterday, I walked into the dog park and she waved and yelled my name while I was still twenty feet away. I involuntarily cringed.
She is too goddamn nice. How can you dislike someone for being too nice and too friendly? Well, if you’re me, it’s apparently very easy. I really can’t stand her. She seems needy to me like the new kid at school who is trying way too hard to make friends so she doesn’t have to sit alone at the lunch table. ”
Sometimes, I scare myself with my prescience. In October, I said she seemed like the new kid at school who is trying too hard. It turns out, that’s exactly what she was. Since she arrived, there is a new social order at the dog park. She has taken over.
I’ve been going to the dog park for nearly three years, which makes me kind of like a Junior in high school. Friendly lady is still a Freshman and she’s no longer friendly. She came in, ingratiated herself to everyone, gained some followers, took over and became a roaring bitch. There are three picnic tables at the park. She and her crew have taken over the picnic table I always sat at. They have crap positioned all over it so that, in order to sit down, you’d have to ask them to move their stuff. You are only allowed at that picnic table in a public park if you’re invited.
Formerly-friendly lady had a falling out with one of her first followers and told her that she wasn’t allowed at the table anymore. She told the outcast to either use the other end of the park or use the dog park at a different time of day. She was no longer allowed at the table. What. The. Fuck? This is a public park. It’s a public park for dogs. It’s a dog park, yet some people insist on turning it into high school version 2.0. I hated high school the first time around and I’m damn sure not going to play those games now that I’m an adult.
I’m courteous with everyone and even friendly with a few, but I don’t typically hang out with my dog park friends outside of the dog park. In fact, I’ve never done anything with any of them outside of the fence. Going to the dog park is kind of like going to work in the sense that you don’t get to choose who else goes there and you don’t want to hang out with those people outside of your required time together. I don’t want to be in high school again. I just want to exercise my dog.
Yesterday, just to be annoying, I moved some of formerly-friendly lady’s stuff without asking and sat down at what used to be my favorite picnic table. I faced outward so that my back was towards her. I could feel the daggers of her eyes on the back of my neck. I sat there for a couple of minutes on principal, to remind her that we were not in her back yard and that she has no power over me. I got up and walked away without so much as glancing her way.
I wouldn’t have been capable of such an overt act of rebellion when I was in high school, which is exactly why I did it now. It felt damn good. Screw your social hierarchy.