Monday, March 22, 2010

Irrational Fears

Driving home last night after dinner alone, I was overcome with a fear so acute that I got a little emotional in the car. Let me back up a moment to say that I am not the biggest fan of poorly lit night driving. As anyone who has ever been bored to tears by me or devoted partner recounting the minutiae of our 10-week post-collegiate European trip will know, we drove from Prague to Essaouira in Morocco non-stop over the course of three days, meaning I have had a bit of night driving under my belt. But as anyone who has ever driven at night knows, there is a vast difference between night driving on a massive interstate/international highway, and driving through the barely lit nooks and crannies of a suburban neighborhood (see also driving through Manhattan at night which is pie).

While others may fear hitting deer on the Meritt Parkway or moose in Maine, my biggest fear is hitting someone's dog.

I can't really even put into words how absolutely devastated I would be. Last night as I wound my way through the side streets that would take me from the parkway to my garage, I played the interaction through: the absolute horror that would strike at the moment of impact, the feverish hope that the dog was merely wounded or stunned, and the absolutely gut-wrenching walk to the owner's house, begging the void that there are no children, and having to tear-stainedly admit to hitting their dog. (Even though I recognize that dogs should not be out at night roaming the streets, I would still feel entirely at fault.)

And I wonder if telling the distraught owner how much I adore dogs, how in my old age I even like and play with the small ugly ones, how I want nothing more than to be surrounded by drooly happy puppies, and that my worst nightmare is to run one over, would make any difference. I suspect not.

This would account for why, if you find yourself driving behind me at night, on the quiet streets, you would be tempted to tailgate or honk, seeing as you might want to proceed at a speed greater than the 17mph I am inching along at; I don't know if 17mph is slow enough to merely bruise the puppies of Fairfield and Westchester counties, but I hope so. I apologize for my slowness in advance.

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