Shunned at the Dog Park

Posted: 29 November 2008 in Charlottesville, observations, other folks, queerlife

One of the hardest parts of moving has been having to make new friends.  I’ll admit, we weren’t doing spectacularly well at this before, but we were doing well enough that we had other people to make conversation with.  Did you ever take one of those personality quizzes that asked “do you usually have just a few close friends or many friends and acquaintances?”  I’m sure that isn’t the precise wording, but it’s close enough that you get the idea. I always checked the “just a few close friends” option, knowing it wasn’t entirely true.  I have a lot of close friends, but only one or two are nearby at any time and sometimes, like now, none of them are near.  I’m not sure which box D would check, but she seems easy-going enough to make friends anywhere.

We’ve been doing our best here, I’m cultivating the usual round of close acquaintances at work and find that there’s more social potential with this crowd than there was at the State Department.  Perhaps we have more in common, or perhaps it’s knowing that everyone is staying put for awhile.  D has been working diligently on friends at the dog park, important since we’ve been getting the cold shoulder since we got here.

I’m not sure what it is about this dog park, but the exclusivity was reaching a fever pitch until D broke through a few weeks ago.  No matter how hard we tried to make conversation, all we got was a barely polite smile.  I wondered if it was our obvious gayness, but this is actually one place where there are other queer couples.  It doesn’t make sense.  There are only a few dog park rules:
–Don’t let your dog hump unrepentantly.
–Pick up after him.
–Tell other people how handsome their Rover is.
–When dark, negotiate leaving so that no one gets left alone.

We follow those rules to the letter and yet we still found ourselves standing, excluded from the group.  After much debating, I think we’ve settled on demographics as the problem.  With the university being so close, there are a number of undergraduates and their dogs frequenting the park.  I forget how young 18, 20, even 21 are.  It’s hard to be both approachable and friendly when you’re not sure if you’re hip enough and everyone looks ancient.  It’s not everyone of course, I’m sure you were brilliant, sociable and comfortable at that age, but the people at this park, not so much.  Of course, there’s also a healthy mix of older folks, but we seem to fall in a big gap between the two.  So we judge the teens and then get judged in turn, but no one is making friends.

Finally, D broke through to someone who seems friendly enough.  It could be that the woman was hitting on her, but probably, she was just looking for friends, considering she’s as new to town as we are.  So we’ve been carefully cultivating the acquaintance, wondering when it’s appropriate to move things out of the dog park.  This still has its own air of awkwardness as she seems to get along equally well with both of us, but it’s kind of like we’re picking her up for a threesome if we continue on in this way.  At least we aren’t both flirting with her like Lorriane and her girlfriend are with their new friend.

So as we hear stories about how Lorraine is falling all over the hotness that is Lois (instead of her girlfriend who she is trying to make pregnant) we endeavor to not appear creepy to our new friend while still trying to get her to go out for drinks.  What are we…16 yr. old boys?

  1. Digger says:

    Dog parks have such weird personality quirks. There are three dog parks that I frequent, two within walking distance. At my least favorite, no one seems to speak to anyone. I chalk it up to the shape of the park (long and fairly narrow), which is more conducive to walkers than socializers. The next is practically across the street from me. It is very cliquish…try as I might, I have not been able to break through, despite there being people there who recognize me and who will speak politely if I speak to them. But then they return to their groups. My favorite, and the only one I have to drive to, was the first I went to here and seems by far the most open. Lots of gay folks but everyone socializes with everyone else. There are regularly parties there, and everyone has everyone else’s emails to send invites to. We occassionally socialize outside of the park with several of the folks there.

    I really wish the two more convenient parks were like that. So I feel your pain.

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