Dog looking at the cameraAll around me people are running with their dogs. It is Denver after all. I am taking very small steps trying not to slip on the ice. When I moved here I was told the city didn’t plow because the sun took car of the snow in a day or two. Last winter that was brilliant. This winter…not so much.

As I take my next tiny step a dog pulls very close to me, straining against his owners leash. I am not a dog person. Yet I find this dog charming. He is so gangly and charming. It is as if he is grinning at me as he tries to get closer. I am the best thing he has seen all morning. In fact I might be the best thing he has seen EVER.

I look at his owner, hoping to give her a smile to show her my appreciation for her side kick but she is looking at her phone. She gives him a sharp tug and he returns to her side. His large neck cranes back at me, his lost love. What a thing we could have been.

It the the most eye contact I have had all morning. After ordering my ginger peach tea and veggie empanada at the coffee shop I sat with my head down in front of my laptop. If I had looked up I would have seem a room full of me. Taller, more like a man, blonder, but all as committed to their computers as I was. Its not the work I wonder about. For many of us this is a virtual office. Its the time between, the walks to and fro. The bathroom breaks and bus tubs. Why are we making more “icontact” than eye contact?

cat staringWhen I got home I decided to ask my cat. She simply stared at me. Then stared. Then stared some more. I tried not to blink but like usual she won. I used my eyes to communicate to her the difference between staring and looking. I was attempting to model the  communication that comes from eye contact rather than the weird icy feeling that her endless stare brings to me. She would only stare back. It was like we were at a cocktail party and she was peering just a tiny bit over my head, showing me my lack of importance in her world.

I wonder why I am not a dog person.

In the not so distant past people fell between cats and dogs in the warmth of their eye contact. It wasn’t exactly love at first site like my canine Romeo, but we didn’t used to look at each other with such doubt and derision.

smart phoneThen the smart phone came along and our casual social interactions got a lot more dumb. When we look up from our devices it takes a minute to exit the virtual world and enter the world of 5 sense. By the time we have landed back on the planet that person walking down the street has passed without a smile.

These days I think people don’t fall between cats and dogs, but are more like fish, swimming around in our world of one, almost unaware of the beings around us.

I’m doing my part to change this…I am putting down the device when I am in public and am opting for eye contact rather than icontact. I am even less of a fish person than a dog person.

crowded fish bowl

What about you? Are you most like the dog, the cat, or the fish? Do you want to join me in trying to increase eye contact?Learning from pets

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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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