This morning I was walking my dog back to my apartment after he had completed his bathroom duties. As I was walking away, I heard the gurgling of a baby and the cooing of a woman. They were clearly admiring my dog. Feeling like I’d be an asshole if I wasn’t social, I turned around. The dog makes me interact with strangers, which is not necessarily a bad thing; but I was already late and my pup, who is easily distracted even on the best of days, does not listen very well whenever strangers are around.
Sometimes I wish I could telepathically communicate with my dog. Puppy. Listen. We need to walk back to the apartment because Mama is late for work. Let’s go. But naturally, he was lying in the grass with his tail wagging, intent on looking as adorable as possible. The woman and the baby smiled widely. I returned the smile. No getting out of this now. I said something generic along the lines of “He is a ham.”
“What is his name?” the woman asked. She looked like she was the baby’s grandmother and had a lightly accented voice. “Apollo,” I said. “Apollo? Apollo. Apollo.” Each time she repeated it, her face went through different contortions of…confusion? Distaste? Dislike? I am not sure. She told the baby something like, “Si chiama Apollo,” which sounded very Italian to me (“His name is Apollo.”) But then she continued muttering to the baby and it no longer sounded Italian.
I said a couple more generic things and then tried to drag Apollo away. Apollo ignored me and kept staring and wagging his tail. I finally picked him up and left with a smile and a farewell, feeling very antisocial as I did.
The woman’s face as she had repeated my dog’s name bothered me. Was it a language barrier? I felt like I was a celebrity explaining that I had named my baby after a food group or esoteric color rather than just giving my dog’s name. We named him after the Apollo Space Mission! Well, kind of (we were just going through dog names and stopped at “A” because we were too lazy to go through the rest).
(My mother is Italian, by the way, and she hadn’t made a big fuss over his name – she just pronounces it A-pole-o, which I think is really cute).
Now, if I had named him something like FarFarDoodle or something, maybe I would have understand the woman’s look a little more.