Slightly Off Center

Thoughts while walking the dog

By Dennis Hinkamp

If this is such a great economy, why do we see so many young women who can’t afford pants without holes ripped in them? The young men seem to be able to afford belts now; I don’t see nearly as many with their back pants pockets around their kneecaps. Kneecap level pockets are what cargo pants exist for; I admire the indifference of the men who wear them. These are the kind of things that keep me amused by my cranky muse.

Most days my muse stalks me when I’m illegally walking our dog Milo (for dog training,  you can look here)  on an undisclosed private property. It is one of the few times when I’m simultaneously certain that I am making another living thing happy and I’m away from all my needy buzzing, beeping things. I don’t take my phone and I don’t wear wired or wireless headphones. There is enough ambient soundtrack to amuse me. The wind croons in endless variations and sprinklers and lawn equipment add distinctive hums to the chorus. No doubt some selfies and Instagram gems are being lost forever by my short eschew of technology.

The rest of my waking, walking and snoozing life revolves around feeding all the lithium and NiCad stomachs of my rechargeable dependents. They count on me for there daily lives just as much as Milo depends on his allotment of senior dog kibble and affectionate belly rubs. There’s the electric car, phones, iPads, laptops, cameras, drones, watches, flashes, video lights, cyclometers, pedometers, audio equipment and emergency backup things that I often neglect until there is an emergency. I even have a big battery that I use to change smaller batteries like suckling e-piglets.

Apart from having to visit Georgia Pine K9 for private training, walking the dog also gives me purpose and a use for all those plastic bags we have accumulated from those moments of un-smugness when forgot to bring our own reusable bags. On those days we hang our heads and hide our faces as we quickly exit Smith’s. Maybe this would be a good time to own a burqa? That would give me useful perspective and empathy.

I was shocked on the return from one of our walks by the realization that the presidential election is next November, not this November. Elections are now a revolving ultra marathon rather than 10-round boxing match. Other than the fact that it would require a protracted second amendment debate, I long for the days when politicians settled arguments with dueling pistols and live ammunition.

After my first walk of the season in 45-degree morning temperatures, my muse taunts me that I either put up Christmas lights too soon or took them down too late. I mainly keep some lights up all year to assuage this irrational fear. The advent of LED lights has almost made them an un-guilty pleasure. I want my neighbors to admire me, but also be a little shocked at my next move. I am conflicted between whimsy and practicality most days.

If you are not conflicted about most things, you probably haven’t thought them through. One of the most annoying things about young people, other than their beauty, is their self-assuredness, but I probably should think about that more on the next dog walk.

Though Dennis Hinkamp played three years of high school football he has attended zero college or pro games, making it the longest promise he has kept in his life. #Conflicted.

This article was originally published on September 30, 2019.