I hardly ever wear shorts.
They aren’t practical on the farm or welcome at the office, and considering that I have no life beyond those two places, I can safely state that my shorts-wearing time is limited almost exclusively to whitewater rafting expeditions and workouts.
Well. I’ve discovered a new use for those scraps of navy nylon: Campaigning.
Fresh from yesterday’s physical therapy session, still clad in athletic gear, I set out to run a few errands about town. It didn’t take long for me to notice the less-than-subtle commentary that rippled in my wake:
“Look at her leg,” said the old biddy in the feed store’s poultry aisle. Her companion shushed her while I smiled sweetly and stacked scratch grains on my cart.
“That looks like it hurt,” whispered the cashier to her co-worker.
“Oh, my god,” said a teenaged girl in the parking lot. “Is that a bruise?”
Ahh, the perfect opening line. The girl was the first of many to direct it at me. She was followed by the cowboy with the silver Chevy, the cyclist in line at the post office, the natural foods stocker at the grocery, the guy on the sales floor at Play it Again Sports, and several more.
One after another, they asked, “Is that a bruise?”
One after another, they winced when I said, “Pretty much. Torn hamstring.”
One after another, each of them took the bait. “What’d you do?”
And one time after another, I set the hook. “My horse was attacked by a loose dog, and I fell off.”
Their reactions ranged from amusement to curiosity to indignation. A few jumped straight to storytelling or advice-giving mode. All wanted to hear more of the story. At some point during every conversation, I made sure to comment that if I’d fallen on pavement instead of dirt, I might have died. Yep, those loose dogs are dangerous. Surely do appreciate owners who pen them up.
The message, of course, was the same one I wrote to you two days after my wreck: If you cannot train your dog to stay on your property no matter what, find a way to confine it. Period. Because if you don’t, someone could get killed.
Sadly, humans are less capable of picking up subtle messages than are our equine friends. (Sorry, did I say “subtle?” I meant “glaringly obvious.”) As the strangers walked off, shaking their heads in rueful dismissal, I began to wonder if I was getting through.
Oddly enough, it was Mr. Pick-up Line who made my efforts pay off. Eying my tank top as he rang up my kale and flax seed, he asked, “You on your way to work out?”
“Mm. ‘Cause whatever you’re doing, it’s working out.”
Right. Clever. I thanked him politely and punched in my PIN. It wasn’t until I was walking away that he glimpsed my leg.
“What’d you do?” he called after me.
“Tried riding my horse past a loose dog,” I said. “But it didn’t work out.”
And it happened. The next woman in line dug her elbow into her husband’s ribs and chided, “See? You’d better chain up that damn dog before we get sued!”
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