Monday, April 01, 2013

The old dog's guide to springtime sight-seeing

Apologies to any who might be offended by this post. It's April Fool's Day. Try and take it with a sense of humor, eh?

This last weekend, Portland folks were treated to two full days of splendid spring weather. Temperatures in the 70s. Colors like madness. Everything woke up. Cherry and apple blossoms, bulbs and flowers. Young folks on Hawthorne Boulevard.

As beautiful as it is, this is hazardous weather for springtime walking.  Especially if one is an old dog. The potential for neck and back injuries as one traverses the sidewalks and parkways of my neighborhood is considerable. Trust me on this.

About this time last year, when springtime awoke, I was walking west on Hawthorne, coming home from a hike up Mount Tabor. I espied two young women in tank tops and spandex, out jogging along the sidewalk. They, too, were headed west, about half a block ahead of me. They were athletes with strong shoulders and lean bodies. Their hair was pulled back tight in pony-tails.Their long determined strides bespoke confidence and health.

Outside the Watertrough Saloon, a middle-aged fellow sat smoking a cigarette. He was bald as an egg, with an enormous paunch. His eyes were obscured behind dark sunglasses. As the two young women passed him, he turned and glanced down the street after them.  

Aha! thought I.

When I walked past, I simply couldn't resist. "Well, was it worth a second look?" I asked him.  He grinned and guffawed. "Busted!" he said. "One old dog can always sniff out another," I said. We both laughed.

My bald-headed, sunglass-bespectacled friend with the enormous paunch needed work on his skills. There are ways to do these things so that they aren't so obvious.

Early detection is key. As you walk, keep an eye on the sideway before you. The ideal range for first detection is about three-quarters of a city block. When you see someone that meets your criteria (shorts, sun dresses, or the like), immediately drop your eyes to a point on the sidewalk about 5 to 10 feet in front of you. The goal here is to appear as if you are lost in thought, pondering some weighty matter as you make your way down the sidewalk.

When the subject enters your field of vision, raise your eyes slowly. This is your opportunity to observe. As you bring your eyes up, you mustn't pause until you reach eye level. Therefore, make sure you take in all there is to see on the way up. When you reach the eyes, affect an expression of mild astonishment, as if, wrapped in your own thoughts you had not noticed the other person approaching.

It is vital that you be ready for the eyes. There will be eye contact. The subject is testing you to see where you're looking.

When eye contact is established, smile. The smile is key. It is not a leering smile. It is not a lascivious smile. It's a friendly, unassuming smile. Nine times out of ten, the response will be a smile returned.

This, my friends, is how to successfully enjoy the beauty of spring without coming across as a lecherous old dog.

And gentlemen, you're welcome.

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