I’ve frequently talked about my cats. Evil they might be, but they’re cats. I can cope with cats. They drive me nuts and bring out my general allergies to everything in the entire universe, but I love them. They take minimal investment for maximum return. Cats, we hypothesise in this house, have three major food groups:-
Give a cat these things and they pretty much take care of themselves. You can go away for a night and leave extra food down without it being a major issue. You can go to work and come home and they’ll have been indulging group 2 all day. Yes, they can be annoying, but they’re sweet, really.
Then there’s dogs.
OK, the simple fact of the matter is that I have a bit of a dog phobia. Probably stems from the Jack Russell my grandmother had when I was a baby. It didn’t like me and, so my mother told me a few times, wasn’t adverse to trying to Tear My Face Off. I imagine that even in a baby’s psyche that has a knock-on effect. Whatever the reason, I am very nervous around dogs of all shapes and sizes. As long as people get this and respect it, I can build up confidence with them over time.
But then there are the people who seem to metaphorically stick their fingers in their ears and go ‘LALALALALALALACAN’T HEAR YOU‘ when you say you have a dog phobia. A typical example of this conversation goes like this. Dog Owner invites me to their house.
Me: “Do you have a dog?”
DO: “Yes, we have a dog.”
Me: “I know it’s really inconvenient, but when I come round, would you mind making sure that the dog doesn’t rush up to me and jump up? I’m a bit nervous of them and would appreciate it if you didn’t let your dog do that to me.”
DO: “Oh, Ripper’s an old softy, he wouldn’t hurt you.”
Me: “I’m sure he is. But I’m still scared of them, so would you mind?”
DO: “Don’t be silly, he won’t bite.”
Me: “HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
But no. Dog Owner can’t hear me, because there’s this mental block in effect in their brains that totally mutes the voice of anybody who doesn’t subscribe to the church of canine worship. Thus, when I turn up, the dog rushes up to me, usually barking and jumps up at me… and I’m frightened. Sure, the dog might be an old softy and won’t bite, but that doesn’t stop me being scared. I try to keep my cats out of the room when people come round with allergies (I’m allergic to them, but I’ve built up resistance over time). Why can’t people do that for dogs as well?
Then there’s the other thing. Socialising. I’m no good at it. Essentially, I’m pretty anti-social. I like my own company and that of Dearly Beloved, Small Son and the Evil Furries. I can go out in groups as long as I’m in my conversational comfort zone. I am (and this may surprise you) a geek. A nerd. I talk about Warhammer and roleplay and LRP and movies… I can’t do conversations about handbags and shoes and other Girl Stuff. If there is a mixed-sex group, I tend to end up as ‘one of the lads’ unless the other girls are similarly geeky.
So I will occasionally push myself past the barrier and make an effort to show up, but people don’t seem to understand when I say ‘thanks, but I’m not one for pub crawling. I’d rather find a nice spot and sit and chat with a bunch of mates for a while over a couple of beers than drink as much as possible in as short a time as possible’. It’s just not my thing.
Brain filters kick in with this as well. Rather than make excuses, I tried being honest about it. Didn’t work. Somewhere, that little man was going ‘LALALALALALALACAN’T HEAR YOU!‘
Seriously. If someone tells you something about phobias or issues that they might have? Try listening.
The Other Stuff in this post… after a break so I could, you know, write my book and stuff – we got back to watching Babylon 5. Just hit season 4 and I have a worrying feeling that things might just start going downhill rapidly at this point. It’s a bit like Stargate SG1, which should have ended at the end of season 8. I’ve mostly enjoyed B5, although it hasn’t been as consistently good as some other programmes. Still good though. Outstanding mentions to Londo and G’Kar who have been brilliant throughout.
Other Other Stuff… one week to Black Library Live! Hard to believe it’s more than a year since the last one. Looking forward to it very much indeed.