the tyranny of words

First Pat: Did you just key my car?

Other Pat: No.

FP: You did. I heard it. As you walked by you keyed my car!

OP: No. I didn't.

FP: There. Right there. You keyed my car!

OP: No. I did not.

FP: it’s right there! You can't deny it. That's a brand new scratch. You just did that as you were walking by. I saw you.

OP: You said you heard me. You never said you saw me. I didn't do that. It was already there. I saw it.

FP: You liar. I saw you walk close enough to my car to key it. I heard you scratching the car as you passed by.

OP: You did not. You're making that up.

FP: Merde! I can't believe this. How can you lie about something you just did right in front of me.

OP: You could not have seen me do that. You were on the other side.

FP: I told you, I heard you do it, as you were doing it. I can't believe this.

OP: I told you. I did not do that. It was already there.

FP: What's in your hand. Is that a key? You're not even trying to hide it. You just keyed my car. How can you say you didn't when you're still holding the key?

OP: What, this? That's my car key. I'm about to unlock my car.

FP: That's not a car key. That's a house key.

OP: No. This is for my car. I took it out of my pocket because I'm about to unlock my car.

FP: Where's your car?

OP: Over there.

FP: Over where?

OP: There.

FP: You're not pointing. Saying “over there” isn't enough. You have to point when you say “over there” so I know where you mean.

OP: I moved my head.

FP: You did not. You just said “over there” while looking straight at me. You didn't point. You didn't gesture. You did not move your head.

OP: it’s over there.

FP: You did it again!

OP: it’s that way.

FP: Why are you doing this to me?

OP: You spoke to me. I was just walking by, minding my own business, when you spoke to me. I only stopped to be polite.

FP: Why are you screwing with me? Do you know me? Have I harmed you? I don't understand this.

OP: it’s OK. You've made a mistake. You've had a misunderstanding. There are a lot of things in this world that don't make sense and I think this is one of them. Something happened to your car and you're looking for someone to blame. But things aren't always someone's fault. There isn't always a reason. Sometimes, things happen. Without a reason. For instance, this morning I was bit by a dog. On my leg, here. I had come out of my home and was walking on the sidewalk. A person with a dog was walking towards me. The person, I'm not sure if it was a man or a woman. It wasn't obvious. They weren't dressed in a masculine or feminine style. If they were, it wouldn't have been indicative. If the manner of dressing were feminine, it could have been a man. If the manner of dressing were masculine, it could have been a woman. Come to think of it, they might have been neither a man nor a woman. They might have been transgender. Wait, no, that's not right. Transgender means man or woman. Non-binary, is what I was thinking of. Neither a man, nor a woman. Something in between the two. Is that right? Or is it agendered? it’s all confusing. Not that it matters.

The dog was on a leash but I gave it wide berth. I don't like dogs. I'm afraid of them. I don't mind admitting that. it’s because one bit me once. Before this morning. This morning was the second time. The first time, I was young, a child. My neighbors across the street had a dog, a german shepherd. It seemed friendly enough. I remember petting the dog and it pretended to like me. It cocked its head to side and pressed its ear into my hand. If it was a cat, it would have been purring. It was all perfectly normal. A friendly moment between a dog and a child. I'm sure there have been many moments between dogs and young children. Lots of them. The next day, I was with a friend who said to me, watch out for that dog. It used to be a police dog, my friend said. I said, there's nothing to be afraid of. I know that dog. I stepped into the yard, towards the dog. I was going to pet it. To show my friend it was friendly. That there was nothing to be afraid of. I had taken one step into the yard when the dog, the german shepherd, the ex-police dog, came running at me. It ran fast and jumped up at me without making a sound. It wasn't barking. It went for my neck with it’s mouth open wide. It bit me on the neck. I was knocked down to the ground. It happened fast. I didn't cry out. I must have been in a state of shock. I was stunned and unable to react. I found myself lying on my back on the ground with my throat in the jaws of this dog. Then, it stopped. The dog stopped. It turned away and walked back up the driveway. I was bleeding in the neck but not badly. I had a bruise in that spot for several days.

I've been afraid of dogs ever since. I don't think anyone should blame me. It makes sense. That's why I'm afraid of dogs. That's why, when I saw the person with the dog walking towards me, I gave them a wide berth. I was avoiding the dog. It must have smelled my fear. You know they can do that, don't you? Dogs can tell if a person is afraid of them by the way they smell and, if it’s fear, it makes them mad. I don't know why it makes them mad but it does. Angry dogs. It makes them want to bite the person. So that's what happened. Despite the wide berth, and the dog being on a leash, it bit me. I don't know what kind of dog it was. It didn't look like a breed. It must have been a mutt. A mix.

FP: I can't...

OP: Oh, but you will. I'm certain of it.