An older man was walking his dog in front of the pharmacy when I arrived today. The dog came up to sniff my ankle so I stopped to say hi.
“He’s cute! What kind of dog is he?”
“A mutt,” says the owner. “Mostly terroir, though.”
I know the word terroir only because it’s one of those specialty words that occasionally come into vogue among the general population. The definition, so far as I can tell, is roughly “I know more about wine than you because I can use the word terroir correctly in a sentence,” and it is almost never used correctly in a sentence.
“I think you mean Terrier,” I replied helpfully.
“No son, terrier is a jet.”
Where I live it’s still common for older men to refer to younger men of the same race as “son” without a fight breaking out. I let it pass.
“The name of the jet you’re thinking of is Harrier.”
“No, that’s a hippie girl. You know. ‘Cause they’re harrier than a normal girl. Down there,” he replied with a lascivious grin, pointing somewhere between his crotch and his knees.
I wondered briefly whether he was pantomiming a very short woman or simply lacked the proprioception to accurately point to his crotch.
Not wishing to stick around and find out, I pulled out my phone and pretended I was getting a message on it. “It looks like my prescription is ready. Nice chatting with you,” I said over my shoulder as I made a hasty retreat toward the entrance door.
The old guy went back to walking his dog without acknowledging me.
Thing is, I’m not sure he was messing with me. Being eccentric is a privilege you earn with old age. I’m not close to his age and I mess with people’s heads all the time, especially people who get too nosy. But at least when I do it the lie quickly becomes too outrageous to be believable which is how I let my victims off the hook.
This guy was convincing as hell. If he was messing with me he’s way out of my league. I didn’t know whether to be in total awe of his quick wit and deadpan delivery, or check to see if there’s an Amber alert out for a very large senior citizen who, abetted by his very small mixed breed dog, managed a daring escape from the assisted living center.
Either way, I figure he gives me something to aspire to in my advancing age.