too dark to read
It is strange, this land of dogs. A cat may occur in secret, but the dog translates one into a different culture, which runs parallel but only partially visible to the commonplace of books and walks and cemeteries. Strangers speak to me now on the street, wanting to greet the dog, needing apologies when the dog wants to greet them – the first-learned words in a foreign culture.
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When we learned Armenian, the teacher gave us an exercise involving pictures to be connected into a story. One of the pictures was a bulldog in a necktie, and we made up a story of the dog’s work as consultant for an unnamed corporation, marketing fruit and other common household products (which appeared in the other pictures). The teacher commented that the dog was quite the բիզնեսմեն – and we laughed and said, no, he wasn’t a businessman, he was a բիզնեսշուն (businessdog). Biznes-shoon became a recurring character in the language classes that summer, engaging in high-profile talks with presidential candidates from many different countries. It was silly at the time, but seems less so now. Perhaps this summer we would have made jokes about Biznes-shoon being interviewed by lawyers, but perhaps not.
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With the new dog, one senses the judgment – one is still an outsider with poor manners and an ill-mannered pup. We try to decipher her needs, to understand the social sticking points, but our grasp of the language is not sufficient yet. She spins in circles, chasing her tail.