The first time I saw Agnes, she was walking her dog Barney by the water on the pier at North Williamsburg. She smoked one cigarette after another, while her dog ran about in circles with his friends.
Barney seemed a little wary of people, but confident in the dog world. Every time he grew a little anxious, he would run to Agnes. She would give him a kiss, then push him to run back to the playground. Barney would go off, tongue lolling, rub his back against the carpet of green, tug at the tail of one of his buds, tease another to chase after.
I noticed the way Agnes was standing at the corner of the dog park—legs parted, arms crossed against her gaunt body, not like a woman, not like a man—sexy none-the-less.
She didn’t talk in hush tones or roll her words prim and proper like Williamsburg folk. She spoke boisterously, loud enough for me to catch every word, even if I were blocks away.
She stood out, cause fitting in, didn’t seem to be her thing. Something about her energy told me she was different from everyone else around her, and in a way that I admired, she didn’t seem to give a flying fuck.
I don’t know much about Agnes, other than her love for cigarettes and dogs. She cares for Barney with all her heart. She knows he will take a while to start trusting people again. She is patient with him, just like a mother, watching over her child.
The shelter she rescued Barney from told her he had likely been beaten for days. She thinks it wasn’t a woman who beat her dog, cause of the way he shakes—tails between legs—when a man approaches him.
When I saw Agnes first, a dog trainer named Daiquiri was walking past the dog park, chains and sticks in his hand, whistle in the mouth. He was leading a pack of German Shepherds. Something about his walking style was distinctly military. As he marched, he barked instructions at his dogs. They obeyed right away, no tails wagging.
“Sit,” He shouted. Sit they did.
“Down!” He shouted. Down they went.
“Head down!” He shouted. And all the heads touched the floor in tandem!
Agnes watched Daiquiri, eyebrows raised. “They are dogs, let them be dogs you idiot!” she bellowed, as she lit another cigarette, and moved on.
Next time, I met Agnes was at another dog park. We started talking about how Barney was doing. I gave her updates about my pooch and how I was worried about taking him away to Jersey for the weekend because I was traveling to Los Angeles for work.
“Why you take your dog to Jersey? That’s so far!” She asked.
“I know, but my dog isn’t fixed and all the doggy day cares here need the dog to be neutered. I found this place after lots of research…” I explained.
“My dog love your dog. Look at how well they play. They could play like this all day. When do you go?” She asked me.
“I need to go tomorrow for the weekend,” I said.
“You leave your dog with me. No problem. I take good care of him,” She offered.
“You would really do that?”
“Why won’t I do that. You need help, I’ll help you out. And look at the two, they love each other. What’s the problem?”
“Yes, but will you take money? As in, how much should I pay you?” I asked.
“Are you crazy? Why would I take money? I just thought you need help, silly girl.” She said.
“Oh I am so sorry, if I offended you. I didn’t think anyone would offer to do something like this for free. I have already paid the doggy daycare half the money. I wish I had spoken to you earlier. Then I would have left my puppy with you.”
“You do that next time, okay? Don’t worry about money. People can help each other out—can’t they?” She said.
“Yes they can!” I said.
Next time I met Agnes, she was looking for her car, coffee in one hand, cigarette in the other.
“You know I just can’t remember, where I parked my car?”
“Haha, why don’t you remember? Did you spend a long time looking for parking last night? And forgot where you parked, in the end?”
“No, I never spend time looking for parking! When I want parking—I get parking—always.”
“That’s some confidence. I always spend half an hour trying to find a spot. And sometimes it takes longer. I am just bad at finding parking.”
“You know what—you stupid! You tell yourself you bad at finding it—therefore you take time,” She lectured me. “Tell yourself, I am good at finding parking—and you’ll find it in less than a minute.”
“That is the silliest thing I have ever heard,” I replied, laughing.
“It’s not silly. It’s the truth. Try it, then tell me. It’s the only way to live life. Now help me find my car. It’s red in color, just like this one. But, this is not my car. Once, I got confused and tried to unlock this car for 10-minutes. How silly of me. My car is in this block though—that I know for sure!”
Posted in: Beginnings, diary, Stranger on the Street, USA