So, I’m out walking Rubin. I’m NOT wearing a dress, you’ll be pleased to know, and neither is he. He is, however, wearing his leash, and because it’s one of those extendable ones, and Rubin likes to be as far away from me as he possibly can on his walks (perhaps he’s embarrassed by what I’m wearing, who knows?), this leash is stretched taught between my hand and his body, and remains like this for the duration of time he pulls me around the footpaths of The Ghetto. (Actually, I don’t know why I even call the outings Rubin and I take together “a walk”. It would be better described as “a pull”.)
Now, note the word FOOTpath, here, folks. This is a path for FEET. Not for WHEELS, say, but people on wheels do love to use it: mostly cyclists, but we also get the occasional MOTOR CYCLIST roaring along it, and all I can say about that is that I hope there’s a particularly hot space in hell for those people, I really do. The regular cyclists, on the other hand, don’t really bother me. Most of them are really good about ringing their bell when they get close to a pedestrian, and this gives me ample opportunity to reel Rubin in and prevent him from trying to throw himself under their wheels, which is totally what he would do, and why he is kept on his leash on this particular footpath.
Yesterday, though, this did not happen. Instead of ringing his bell to let me know of his approach (INCOMING! INCOMING!) one particular cyclist decided to sneak up on me in complete silence: a Stealth Cyclist, if you will. It was only when I felt one of those rare pricklings of danger at the back of my neck that I turned around and saw him… just as he prepared to cycle at speed into Rubin’s leash – an act that would surely have sent his bike spinning out of control, with Rubin and I spinning right after it.
I am not ashamed to admit that I shrieked like a girl at this point. OK, I am a bit ashamed to admit it, to be honest, because it was a particularly dramatic shriek. He was SO close to us, though, and he cycled right up to Rubin’s rear (note: there was plenty of space around Rubin and I, so there was no need for him to do this. I did wonder if he just hadn’t noticed the leash, but even giving him the benefit of the doubt there, it would still have meant he was planning to pass really close to me, and he was cycling fast) before swerving at the last possible second, giving me plenty of time to imagine him flying over his handlebars, and me and Rubin ending up in court on charges of Interfering With a Cyclist or somesuch. (And I just KNOW Rubin would sing like a bird to get the law off his back, and would blame it all on me…)
The cyclist, meanwhile, didn’t even give us a second glance. He just sped away nonchalantly, and I got the distinct impression, although I’m possibly just making this up, that he felt the shrieky scare he’d given me served me right for daring to be in his path. It was this, rather than the scare I’d just had, that prompted me to shout feebly after him, “You’re not supposed to cycle on footpaths, you know!” Which would’ve TOTALLY told him, except at this point I noticed that he had headphones on and wouldn’t have heard me anyway.
And THIS is why Terry normally doesn’t let me walk the dog on my own…