I have a dog. Her name is Brenda. Actually, her full name is ‘Brenda, from Accounting’. Why? Because dog owners feel obliged to engage in some sort of small talk while our hounds are sniffing each other’s buttholes. The standard, “I really don’t give a fuck” question most often asked is, “So, what’s her name?” I thought a fun response would be, “This is Brenda, from Accounting.”
Turns out, it was more than a “fun” idea. “Brenda, from Accounting” often leaves unsuspecting strangers with a quizzical look of bewilderment on their face and fumbling for something to say in return. From a spectator’s perspective, the entire interaction is very entertaining.
My favorites though, are those that are coherent, not on an Ambien-induced coma stroll, and clever enough to “get it”. They fire back with: “Oh, this is Muffin, from H.R.” Or, “nice to meet you Brenda. This is Lou. He just transferred to catering and, over there, the one peeing on your bike is Jake, from State Farm.”
I’m always surprised, almost on a daily basis, by how many dog-owning individuals have absolutely no sense of humor. Dogs, and animals in general, are amazing creatures that can provide so much joy and happiness to our lives if we let them. I always feel a little sad whenever I come across a person who seems like they could be having so much more fun in life, if they just let go a little.
I love to laugh and a sense of humor has always been, in my opinion, one of the four sexiest traits a man can possess. The others in no particular order are: ass, eyes and lips. However at the end of the day, a man with a sense of humor, and the ability not to take himself, or life, too seriously will be the keeper of my heart.
Brenda is a rescue dog, so her exact breed is unknown. She seems to have herding instincts and her coat is a shimmering copper color infused with an abstract array of white blobs. Weighing in at around 55 pounds, all things considered, my best uneducated AKC guesstimate would be that she’s some sort of Border collie mutt.
I know that some dog owners obsess over bloodlines and other K-9 bullshit, and maybe the ‘perfect’ parent would be more aggressive in discovering their dog’s lineage but, honestly, I don’t care what breed she is, or isn’t. The fact that she is the kindest, gentlest and most affectionate pet I’ve ever owned is enough for me and more than I deserve.
I think that rescue animals somehow know that they’ve been given a second chance at life. Balk if you must. I’m not asking you to agree with me and, unless you’ve never owned a rescued animal, it’s a hard argument to sell, but I think they know. There are days when I catch Brenda, from Accounting looking at me and she knows that Daddy’s got her back.
Brenda and I are as close as any Daddy/daughter K9 relationship can be without being illegal. It’s been said that she’s a chip off the ol’ block. She is very popular with the boys in the neighborhood, just like her old man. ‘Atta girl!
I knew that naming my best friend ‘Brenda, from Accounting’, was going to cost me a little, in sideways glances, ‘overheard’ comments or just the everyday ritual of shady, two-faced cunts who love to grope you up the front before stabbing you in the back. We all know one or two of these types and the best way to handle them is to kill them with kindness.
Queens be damned! Even on our darkest day together, nothing could replace the amount of joy and selfish amusement I get with Brenda and our doggie introduction gag. People go ape-shit when they are thrust out of their regimented and rehearsed way of being, and are caught off guard and forced to think on their feet. Some look as though they are having a mini-stroke, all the while the devil on my shoulder is about to shit himself from laugher.
After two solid years of working the bus and truck circuit of dog runs; puppy playdates and the occasional after-work spa sessions, our act had grown stale. My self-amusement had begun to wane and at this point it was too late for Brenda to switch departments. She will always be ‘from Accounting‘. Brenda, has always been popular but I knew we had to shake things up a bit if we were going to keep our top billing (free bacon) at the Tenth Avenue bodega. We needed fresh material; a new buzz to keep my bitch on top. Time to push my self-amusement.
Now, every June, for the last four years, I dye the bright white sections of Brenda’s coat fuchsia, in honor of Gay Pride. Not baby doll pink, or rose or ruby mist, but FUCHSIA. I mean, the bitch glows.
Some might classify the same color as “Hot Pink” but what self-respecting homo would say ‘Hot Pink’ when they could say “Fuchsia”?! Seriously.
Without fail, when we hit the streets that first week in June, Brenda is a superstar. People light up when they see her trotting down the street and I get immense satisfaction watching the sidewalk traffic do doubletakes and erupt into laughter. At the very least, she puts a smile on people’s faces.
Girls and straight men snap the most pictures of her and Brenda has graced more than a few Instagram pages over the years. In my Gayborhood, the gays will be gays and either love the idea and the camp value of it or hate it and rip me to shreds, hissing to each other like snakes in a pit when Brenda and I stroll by. Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.
I will concede that it takes a certain personality and mindset to walk the streets of New York City with a bright fuchsia dog in tow. Before we leave the house I need to make sure I have my ‘game face’ on and my personality in check. I want to appear friendly and approachable but also have the confidence to exude a force field around that lets people know “I love my dog and I don’t give a fuck about what you’re thinking” Here’s why:
Two weeks ago, while walking home, we passed a group of about five adolescent boys, presumably from the high-school down the street. I thought I had smelled pot a few yards back and now I was certain. It was a Friday, after-school and judging by the clouds of smoke they were cranking out, they were getting ready for the weekend.
Normally, when we pass a group of high-schoolers one of two things happen. Either they all whip their camera phones and try not to let me see that they are taking pictures of Brenda, or the group will start to giggle and collapse within itself as they cackle and say whatever it is they say to each other.
Not that day. That day, as Brenda strutted past this group, there were no phones or giddy laughter. In fact they were quiet, No one said anything. Except for one, and all he said was; “Faggot”.
I stopped dead in my tracks. I’m not sure why. After a moment I turned around so I could face the young men. I don’t remember making the conscious decision to approach them, but reflexively my body started walking towards them. Two of the five boys took off running. Of the three that remained, the ‘Alpha’ of the pack, the name caller, became obvious as he stepped forward. He was the one I zeroed in on.
“Do we know each other?” I asked.
“Nah man, I don’t know you, “ he said.
“Well, I’m pretty sure that you just called me faggot. So unless I’ve sucked your dick, what makes you think…?”
“You got a pink fucking dog, bro,” a second one chimed in.
“Actually, the color is fuchsia. And it’s the same color as the bandanna you have wrapped around your ankle.” I quipped. “So maybe there are two gay guys here.”
“Fuck you. That’s my girl’s bandanna, man. I ain’t gay,” he exclaimed as he began to bounce around as young men do when they get embarrassed and don’t know how to harness their energy.
“Well, I am. So what?“ I asked to no one in particular.
“So what?” I asked again.
“Huh?” The Alpha asked.
“I’m gay. So what?” I asked, this time a little more emphatically.
“So, nuthin’, man,” the wing man muttered.
“Exactly. Nothing. My personal life has absolutely nothing to do with yours,” I said.
Just then, Brenda, from Accounting began to bark. It startled the young men into gear, exciting Brenda in the process. I tugged at her leash dramatically, as if I were barely restraining a vicious beast. The truth was, it was past her dinner time and Benda doesn’t like to be kept waiting.
“C’mon, let’s get outta here,” the wingman suggested.
“Fuck this shit,” the Alpha replied as the three of them began walking towards the opposite end of the corridor, lighting up a blunt in the process.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this incident lately. Approaching a group of teenagers with harassment on their minds can go all kinds of sideways. And I’m not sure what I was hoping to accomplish in doing so. I was determined not to be confrontational but I wasn’t backing down either. I think I approached those boys because I wanted to see for myself the young faces of prejudice.
The real crime in ‘Hate crime’ is where it begins – at home. Hate is not something any of us are born with. It is a learned behavior and it begins in the same place where it could end, at home. Children are sponges. So why are we surprised to hear words like “fag”, ‘dyke”, “chink”, “slut” come out of the mouths of six-year-olds, when they are simply repeating dialogue regularly heard around the house?
By the time you read this, World Pride will have come and gone. But if the past fifty years have taught us anything it is that we need to take pride in who we are as individuals, every day of the year. That pride begins at home too. Supporting our children’s interests and curiosities, despite how different they may be from our own, instills confidence and security in them. Those are the traits we want in future generations. Being an adult has responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to secure a future for those who come behind us. A future that is tolerant, welcoming, productive and conducive to living a life free from hatred and bigotry. It’s up to us.
It’s important that Gay Pride doesn’t expire on July 1st. Now more than ever we need to keep the drive alive and lead by example. Be the change you want to see in our world and above all, be proud of who you are. Recognize your self-worth. Make choices that will make your child, brother or sister proud of not only who you are, but proud of who they are. We can make America Great(er) if we want to. It’s up to us.