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YOU TELL YOUR DOG FIRST - Chapter One

YOU TELL YOUR DOG FIRST - Chapter One

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Published by Alison Pace
My newest book, YOU TELL YOUR DOG FIRST, hits stores on 11/6/12. Here's the first chapter:
My newest book, YOU TELL YOUR DOG FIRST, hits stores on 11/6/12. Here's the first chapter:

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Published by: Alison Pace on Oct 19, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/14/2014

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1.
On the Friendliness of My Dog-Friendly Building
I’ve lived in five different apartments in New York City. Yet until I moved to the dog-friendlybuilding in which I currently reside, I would not have called any of them particularly welcoming.Over the course of eleven years spent in other buildings, many of them quite large, I must havehad hundreds of neighbors, yet the closest I ever came to knowing any of them was barely. I cancount the ones I actually remember on one hand.In my first New York apartment, I lived a half a block away from the East River, and rightnext door to people who cooked Middle Eastern cuisine nightly. The alternately wafting, pungent,and overwhelming fragrances of what I imagined to be elaborate and exotic dinners filled myapartment completely and relentlessly. Before inviting anyone up to that apartment, I always feltcompelled to explain that once they were inside my apartment would smell like onions and garlicand some other spices and flavorings I had been as yet unable to identify. I often worried thatwhenever I left my apartment, I, too, smelled of onions and garlic and simply couldn’t tell,immersed as I was in the aromas.Though I lived in that apartment for several years, I met these neighbors only once in theelevator. It was a Saturday night in either late April or early May, the time of year when it finallyseems real that winter is over, when mingling in the air with all the pollen is the almost clichéd
 
hopefulness of spring, the time of year when comments about the weather are at last veering awayfrom talk of cold or other atmospheric unpleasantness and toward that moment when everyone issaying how nice it is outside. As I exited the elevator and then the building with this couple, wetalked about how I was headed downtown for dinner, as were they. They told me they’d decidedto drive their car for the evening and offered me a ride. I accepted.Their car was a two-seater car and the woman, whose name I can no longer remember, and Ishared the passenger seat. As we sped down the FDR Drive, we made small talk; for all Iremember, it might have been about the weather. What I do remember is thinking how strange itoften felt to me to be in a car that wasn’t a taxi in New York City, and how that night it feltstranger still as the car was a sports car driven by a set of chic septuagenarians. I remember that Iwas touched by their offer, that I noticed that neither of them smelled of cooking odors, that Ithanked them sincerely and told my dinner date about the ride the moment I arrived, relaying hownice I thought it was. I can’t remember seeing the couple again after they dropped me rightoutside Campagna on Twenty-second Street and drove off into the night.In another building, in an apartment I lived in for several years with my closest friend,Cindy, there was a guy who lived across the hall from us who always carried a hockey bag. Whenhe moved out, he knocked on the door and gave me his e-mail address and invited me to a NewYear’s Eve party, and I said I’d try my best to make it.I didn’t make it.In the weeks after he’d moved out of the building, the management company renovated hisformer apartment and I would periodically go in to check on their progress. I liked looking at thenewly installed white kitchen cabinets, so much more appealing I thought than the brown fauxwood in my own un-upgraded dwelling. I’d stare mesmerized at the pristine whiteness of thefreshly reglazed tub. Sometime before my last such excursion a couple had moved into theapartment, unbeknownst to me. They also hadn’t locked their door and it was, I would say,embarrassing for everyone when on my way home from work one evening, I walked into their
 
apartment while they were having dinner. I felt at the time that it would be best not to sayanything, and so I left their apartment, perhaps no more stealthily than I had entered it, and spentthe remaining year that I lived there anxious that I would “run into” them again.In the last building I lived in before moving to my current apartment, I maintained a casual,if more-than-cautious, acquaintance with a man whom I believed to be crazy who lived at the farend of the hall. He often opened up all his windows and his front door and then proceeded tochain-smoke in his apartment. This created a vacuum effect down the long hallway so that bothcold air and smoke would rush dervish-like into my apartment. My casual and more-than-cautiousacquaintance with this man was motivated not at all by kindness, a sense of community, or anoutpouring of neighborly friendship, but rather completely so that I could request he not do that.There was, perhaps most memorably, a man whom I met by the mailboxes and with whom Iwent on two dates. These dates occurred during the year that ponchos were enjoying a seriousreturn to favor and were everywhere in New York. I accidentally left my poncho in his apartment.Even though I requested, very politely I thought, that he might leave my poncho with thedoorman, he maintained that if I wanted the poncho I should come over and get it. I, however,was not right then of the mind that I wanted to see this person again and so, even though I was,like so many other women in New York that year, quite into my poncho, even though it wascashmere, and soft, and the prettiest shade of heather gray, I decided the poncho might have totake one for the team. I abandoned any and all reconnaissance efforts and decided to carry onwithout it. In the way that the people who leave you know not to come back until you no longerwant them, once I made that decision, he did finally leave my poncho with the doorman, albeit abit unceremoniously in a garbage bag.That was it for me, neighborwise.With the exception of the man who held on to my poncho, whose name was Jon, I eithernever knew or can no longer remember any of these people’s names. I couldn’t tell you whereeven one of them is today. Though I lived in those buildings, in those apartments, next to

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