I was walking Otis the other day past the Langham, a hotel across from Trump on the Chicago River. Strolling down the sidewalk my mind somewhere else I heard a guy yell, "Is that a goldendoodle or a labradoodle?" It's a question I get 10 times a week. People ask about my dog, most of the time as a vehicle to talk about their dog. It's fine. I'm content to pass a few minutes exchanging pleasantries with fellow dog people.
(The only time it went wrong was on St. Patrick's Day. People in line for the bars when I took Otis out at 7:30am were nice. But by 3pm I couldn't walk 50 feet without someone yelling "Can I pet your dog!" I tried to pretend I didn't hear them, but that didn't work, so instead I'd look at them and smile and say something like, "So sorry! In a rush to get to a party!" One guy got me good. His friend asked, "Is his name fluffy?" I smiled but didn't say anything. His friend said as I was walking away, "Is his name asshole?")
Anyway, this guy outside the Langham in his leather jacket and newsboy hat was talking to me while smoking his pipe, and a lady with a mane of silver hair walked over in a long silver and black fur coat smoking a cigarette. They were together and told me about their golden doodles. After a few minutes I said something like, "Have fun in Chicago, got to get going." And while walking away I was thinking about the first thing I noticed about them. The smoking and the lady's long fur coat, and I wondered what people's first takeaway is when they see me walking. Our first takeaway is based more on personal prejudice, I would argue, and my noticing something like a huge fur coat says more about me than them. I pondered what someone's first takeaway of me would be. Probably my beard, and if they added a second (and it was towards the end of the day) it'd be "the guy with the beard who smelled like beer."
Just then a woman trotted up to me on the sidewalk and stopped to talk to me. Short of breath and with wide eyes she said, "What did Paula Deen just say to you?"