Skip to content

Ergo Sum

Personal tools
You are here: Home » Members » cmcurtin's Home » Dog Days

Dog Days

Document Actions
"It's going to be a hot summer," I thought to myself as I walked from my house to the bus stop on my way to work. It isn't every year that we see days in May flirting with eighty degrees Fahrenheit by seven in the morning.

Nearing the bus stop, I whistled to help the older lady sitting at the bus stop to detect my approach before I was close enough to startle her. (It was, in fact, a bit of Puccini—“O Mio Babbino Caro”) She looked up at me, smiling offering a weak smile as she recognized me as someone she has seen before.

“Good morning,” I offered.

“Mornin',” she returned. “Goin' to be hot again today!”

“So it would seem. I bet it's nice in Maine now. And further north, up in Canada.”

“Well, it's always real hot. It's dog days!”

As I have been known to lose track of time, I consciously avoided making any kind of reaction. A quick glance at my mobile telephone's display confirmed that I had not lost track of two months: it really was May. “Dog days?”

“Yeah, I seen them dogs runnin' 'round already.”

Thus I found myself presented with a dilemma. On one hand, we appear to have a material factual error: that the “Dog Days of Summer” are somehow aligned with the sighting of some dogs “running around.” That's so far removed from being right that it seems unkind to let someone continue to believe it. On the other hand, she was considerably older than I: it seems difficult to believe that she hasn't ever had the opportunity to hear the right story and having me launch into a dissertation on the history of star constellations as named and cited by the Europeans might well produce no effect. Furthermore, she was simply engaged in friendly chatter and to contest any statement would likely be perceived as pedantic at best, possibly even disrespectful.

Deeming the risk of creating offense greater than the value of factual correctness in this case, I opted not to correct her. Then before I could finish enjoying my sense of pride in overcoming my pedantic nature, I realized that I made it only halfway: while I managed not to say something offensive, I failed to come up with something else to say. Abruptly ending a conversation might be perceived as rude and provide ample grounds for the taking of offense.

So to avoid giving offense, I opened my mouth and out came the statement that I didn't make so that I could avoid giving offense. “I don't think that we've hit the Dog Days yet.”


No feelings hurt. So far, so good. “I read an article about this,” I said. It seemed plausible; I probably did read it in some sort of “article” somewhere or other. And by saying that I read it somewhere, I managed to appeal to some undefined, abstract third-party authority, like the “They” so often referred to as being behind rules and aphorisms alike. In so doing, I thought I might avoid being taken for a smarty-pants.

“It said that the Dog Days run in July and August, when stars named after a dog are in the sky during the daytime. Something like that. Sure feels as hot as the Dog Days, though.”

With that, we boarded the bus and sped off toward downtown. It sure was hot.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-08-25 08:15 AM
In Print

This site conforms to the following standards: