Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Olives on the branch

Dog ownership and bus riding have proven to be excellent stages for examples of domination or failed attempts at it. I have noticed, for example, that Peanut often acts aggressively toward "teenage" dogs, especially ones that will soon be much larger than he is. I figure this is his way of instilling fear into an opponent who will likely be able to kick his butt soon.

Sometimes, when I'm playing with him, I'll get on my hands and knees and puff out my chest and stand shoulder to shoulder with him--something I've seen him do outside with other dogs just before bark fests. It always catches him a bit off guard, and he often hops away and stops playing for a second. (See, I'm slowly learning to speak dog.)

This morning, on the bus, a man stood and headed for the door because he was getting off at the next stop. A woman was standing in his way, and when he asked her to move, she refused, saying something like, "I'm getting off at this stop too." The man asked again, to make sure he could get close to the door. The woman refused, saying he could damn well wait or something like that. The man nudged her. The woman screamed at him. The man pushed her harder. The woman started slapping. The two got into a fight. And then a third man--tall and dirty--came up between them, faced the man, and administered one single blow of the forearm. Everyone stopped. Then, the first man who has asked to get to the door got a glazed expression on his face, and crumpled. When he was finally able to sit up, blood ran out of his nose and mouth and puddled on the floor. The bus stopped. We made room, all except for one other guy who decided to walk through the blood and get red footprints everywhere. Did he do that to show that he was unimpressed by everything? That a little blood didn't scare him? That the fight wasn't going to affect his own path in any way?

The idea of domination, or defending what's ours, or maintaining pride, or whatever you want to call it is interesting me this morning. The gestures we do to assert ourselves, directly or indirectly, are fascinating. How do we defend our turf? What are our boundaries? In all honestly, much of it seems arbitrary to me, which makes it all the more exciting to explore.


I'm working my way through Madame Bovary. A new character just stepped on the scene, M. Boulanger, and he is fascinating me more than anyone else so far. Luckily or unluckily for me, I have no recollection of the book's plot, so I have no idea if he's major or minor, but I sense he will be important.


  1. Wow, that little tiff would make some good food for a short story! I love your dog. I want to cuddle him. :)

  2. Hi Michelle, I think I will want to include some sort of struggle for power like this. I don't know how it will manifest yet. But the different techniques people and animals use are interesting to me.

    And Peanut is quite the cuddler!

  3. I think dog sounds as difficult to speak as cat. But at least Peanut listens. Even speaking cat doesn't get a Cat to listen.

    Interesting bus rides you have, Davin. And, as Michelle said, that whole little scenario would make an excellent scene in some future book. The guy who walked straight through the puddle of blood interests me as well...was it an ultimate sign of contempt for the whole little drama? Or did he, perhaps, have earphones in and not even notice what had gone on? Hmmmm...human behaviour is fascinating.

    Madame Bovary was one of the most depressing books I've ever read. Interesting, but depressing.

    Judy, South Africa

  4. Judy, the part about the guy not even noticing is interesting, isn't it? Because part of the "act" is to be nonchalant about it, so it's very hard to tell. I think what excites me is that these are details I wouldn't have come up with on my own. There's a quote by someone about thinking hard and observing harder to get to narration that I should look up!