Wednesday, August 20, 2008

WATCH YOUR STEP!

This morning I had a crappy walk to my Pilates class. Literally. Buenos Aires has no apparent dog-walking laws, so when you walk Fido, you aren't compelled to pick up after him. In a city with crowded sidewalks made even more overcrowded by professional dog walkers and their charges (I still haven't figured out how they keep track of who's gone and who hasn't), this makes walking and jogging, two of my favorite pastimes, precarious enterprises. I've basically stopped storing my shoes in the closet after wearing them and now just leave them out on the balcony. Oh, how it pained me to leave the Lacoste trainers that I recently bought in Santiago de Chile out there the other day!

This morning, when I arrived to Pilates and began to take off my shoes, I noticed that there was dog doo on the bottom of my workout pants. Somehow it had been transferred from the bottom of the shoes to the pants. There was also a little smudge around my knee, and I don't want to know how it got there. I panicked, ran into the bathroom and thoroughly washed the bottom of my pants and the left knee area to rid them of every trace of doo.

I think Operation Dog Doo was a sucess, but I spent the entire class worrying that my instructor, Ezequiel, was holding his breath and thinking nasty thoughts about me. If he was, he didn't let on. But that was little consolation. He's a sweet, congenial guy. Although every so often, he'll gamely try to say something in English and get the phrase right but not use it in the most polite way. Example: He says, "Get up," in stead of "Stand up," which actually sounds nicer. I wonder if there is a similar distinction between "Levantate" and "Arriba." I still don't have the heart to let Ezequiel know that "Get up" actually sounds a little bit impolite. I suspect the same of "¡Arriba!".

Today he asked me for the English word for "pollito." That's "little chicken" in English. In Spanish, you can drop the final vowel of most nouns that end in one, add "ito" or "ita," depending on the dropped vowel, and the object in question becomes little. Example: A "momentito" is a short moment, and a "casita" is a small house. You can do it with names too. Thus, Pablito is to Pablo as Tommy is to Tom. I explained to Ezequiel that contractions and IM/SMS lingo notwithstanding, we generally don't take semantic shortcuts. The word "little" was created for a reason, so we just use it.

Now isn't that a better Spanish lesson than the Madonna song?

But getting back to dog droppings (I know you want to), I'm not sure what to do about the doo. I was always told by my elders to hold my head high when I walk, but unfortunately, that puts me at a higher risk for stepping on doo. There must be some way to walk with pride and not ruin my shoes. After all, the streets are full of people who seem to be doing just fine. Or maybe it's a silent epidemic that no one dares to talk about because poo is not the nicest topic of conversation. I've considered walking in the street, but which is worse--death by speeding collective (a BA bus) or death by embarrassment over doo on my trousers?

Maybe I'll just start springing for taxis.

FIVE GREAT DOG SONGS
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