The Road to Dogmascus

Guest post by Tania Runyan

I’ve clearly missed some important cultural boat, for people love so many things that I just simply don’t get. Beer, Star Wars, zombies, body piercings. While my friends devote themselves to these phenomena with cultish fervor, I look on with confusion, if not a little disgust.

But the item that used to top my list? (Allow me a moment to duck.)


Oh, how I loathed them! Their indiscriminate, face-licking, feces-chomping ways. The agitation of approaching a friend’s door to the sounds of howls and claws on tile as she attempted to restrain the beast.

Why do people do this to themselves? I would ask. Is this just more American-dream mythology, that a stinky creature requiring overpriced squeak toys and hip replacements makes a family complete?

When I was a young girl, our family owned two aloof Afghan hounds, The Countess and The Duchess, who drifted through the yard like curtains haunted by spirits. I didn’t have a personal connection to them, and they couldn’t care less about me. It wasn’t until a stray cat wound herself around my ankles that I found myself devoted to an animal, even creating place settings for her at the table.

But dogs? We just didn’t get each other. This suspicion was solidified when my friend’s German shepherd suddenly pinned me to the door during a trigonometry study session. I wasn’t injured seriously, but the fang marks in my arm were enough. I was turned off to all dogs—and downright terrified of the big ones—for years after that event.

And let’s just say I never moved on to calculus.

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Road Rage and Repentance

Driving other day, down a busy city street, one which I drive once, twice, sometimes three times a day—scanning a block or two ahead for double-parkers, changing lanes to dodge left-hand-turners and get away from slow-pokes—I had an epiphany. A manifestation. A showing. It wasn’t pretty.

An SUV rode on my tail. I called the SUV by name—that is, by a certain seven-letter anatomical term, even as I felt the pleasure of making it through the a signal turned yellow while watching the SUV get stopped by the red. Gotcha!

I actually said it aloud. And then, not even a block later, the SUV zipped past me on the left. Didn’t the driver see the double-parked UPS truck ahead? Guess not, but I did. And I’d be damned if I was going to let the SUV sneak back over at the last minute, the way more and more drivers do these days.

What is it about San Francisco? In my early driving days, some thirty years ago, drivers waited until it was their turn; vehicles filed in order—left, right, left, right, from two lanes into one; cars pulled over for sirens. No more. Is the dot-com boom to blame? Skyrocketing housing prices? Too many cars? [Read more…]