“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 72: On Resisting Sentimentality

Over the years my sister, my friends with dogs, and I have bought all the goofy dog cards our various stores have to offer.  I am waiting for the year when two of us end up exchanging the exact same card; it would inevitably be a picture of, say, a bulldog smoking a pipe, or a golden retriever with a green dog in its mouth with a caption that says "I love you," or a chihuahua in a Christmas stocking.  We aim for humor, not sentimentality, but we are also alerting one another that yes, we are the dog people, and we trade in cute dog shtick.  We accept that we are in this sub-culture.  It's a convenient way to speed up the search for the perfect greeting card.

I wrote in a fairly early post about how my husband objected to the bandannas Zoe's groomers gave her as a finishing touch.  I always thought she looked pretty, but I knew what he meant.  I think even in this picture, below, you can see that Zoe is a serious dog.  She isn't goofy, and she doesn't preen.  She's being anthropomorphized with this bow as some kind of girlie-girl.  But the other underlying issue was that my husband was afraid I might not stop there.  What if I started to pose with Zoe and her pink bow and turned these pictures into greeting cards?  And then before you know it I'd be dressing her up as an elf at Christmas.  From there we might work through other holidays.  The Easter Dog/Bunny?  The Halloween Dog Ghoul?  

(See Day 24: Zoe and Cindy: Meditation on the Quilt, for the story of how Zoe got all her bandannas that my husband had removed back in the form of a quilt, thanks to one of her favorite people.)

One year for my birthday Rebecca gave me a nightshirt with down-dogs all over it (that is, dogs doing down-dog pose from yoga) which I wore until it had holes in it, and then I found the catalog she'd ordered it from and bought its replacement.  My sister has given me countless pairs of dog socks as a joke, but then I wear them, usually when I'm walking Zoe or working out.  I've given her puppy calendars, or cute baby animal calendars, and she sends me You-tube films of dogs doing cute stuff, including dancing with their human partners.

If we do all this with a sense of humor, to indicate we are laughing mostly at ourselves and how over-the-top we are, do we still have a critical perspective, or did we cross the line the minute we bought our first card of a poodle with a hula hoop and a party hat? 

And what if the dog's person is helping her canine cutie battle a serious illness?  Is it wrong to continue buying the same kinds of cards?  Is it consoling to carry on in the same way?  Or is it a sign that I'm in denial?

The story continues tomorrow.

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