I was up to my elbows in dirt and phlox while T2 worked on their tans on the deck. We have a bit of privacy from the street, so people on the sidewalk, though they have a clear view of the deck, cannot see me as I work in some parts of the garden. Because if they could have seen me, the woman walking by with her husband, two small children and a set of grandparents would have had more sense and manners (I hope) than to say, "Oohhh, look at them. They look mean."
Now, I imagine that at some point in my life it would not have ever occurred to me that anyone could say anything disparaging about the people or animals I love so dearly. At some point. But I have pit bulls now and I am always ready with a polite response when misguided, ill-mannered people say horrible things to my face about the clearly loved-and-cared-for dogs at the end of the leashes in my hand. So of course, I knew this woman was talking about my sweet girls and I knew it didn't occur to her that they would never be left out in the yard unattended (who worries about their vicious dogs being stolen, right?).
Up I popped like a marionette. I felt ridiculous even as I was doing it. I could not stop myself and yet in my head I thought, "Well, that's it. You've become that woman. There's no turning back now."
"Nope," I said, as if I were already a part of their conversation. "Not mean at all. In fact, they go to daycare each week to play with other dogs and they're great with children. Actually, they're the most affectionate, well-behaved dogs we've ever had." I could see the grandparents smirking a little, though I am not sure if it was at me for being a crazy dog lady or at the woman for being called out in her remarks.
"Oh. Um. Are they pit bulls?"
"Yes they are. Really stellar family pets when given the opportunity to live in a loving home. No different than people."
"We have a friend who has a pit bull. It's a really nice dog."
"Right. So you know what I mean, then. Have a good day."
That's what I said, because that's how I have chosen to handle people's rude behavior toward my girls—with a chipper voice, a big smile and a firmly positive message.
In my heart, though, the conversation goes more like this:
"Oohhh, look at them. They look mean."
"Huh. Your kids look stupid. I guess we're even."