A plate of beans

There’s an ancient internet forum for nerds where someone once joked that its members could overanalyse a plate of beans. This understandably led to a lot of jokes where people tried to actually analyse the plate of beans.

Metaphors are funny that way. Take any concept and object and you can find a path between them. The US economy is like, for example, a hot air balloon. Why? Because it doesn’t take a direct form. You can try to influence whether it goes up or down, but there are a ton of factors outside of direct control. And even then, the results can be on a delay. See? Easy. Metaphors are closer to dad joke puns than any deep well of wisdom and insight.

I was attacked by an unleashed pit bull in my neighbourhood a few months ago. It locked its massive steel trap jaws around the bottom half of my small dog, and tried to violently rip her in half. It’s a few months later now, and we’re both fine. My dog made a full recovery after emergency surgery, I made a full recovery after a night in the hospital, and the owner of the dog paid the vet bills and apologised. We’re ok. As ok as we can be.

I don’t usually use screen protectors on my phones. In my family, it’s a given that a new phone means a new screen protector and case. I always use a case, but only sporadically go through the effort of lining up a new screen protector. It’s worked pretty well for me over the years. I’ve shattered one screen that I can remember, and I’m sure I’ve had chips and dings, but nothing too bad. When the pit bull attacked, my phone went flying, but there wasn’t any damage.

Post traumatic stress is hard to predict, and I knew that from day one. I knew after a week that we’d be ok physically, but I also knew that the stress of the experience might return in unexpected ways. Maybe I’d have a too-large reaction to something seemingly minor, even months down the line. Maybe I’d start panicking for no reason at the dog park. In the aftermath, I resolved to feel grateful that the attack wasn’t worse but also keep an eye on my mental health. And to give myself grace and space if the trauma did reemerge later on.

My dog has been brave. She did fine at the dog park, she still loves other dogs, especially big ones. She’s still perky and happy and the same dog we all love. But a few weeks ago, someone made a loud noise getting out of their car, and my poor dog jumped out of her skin. More recently, a leaf landed on her foot and it shocked and scared her. So she’s definitely working through some anxiety after the experience. But we’re fine. Mostly.

A few days ago, a massive dog who lives a few doors down broke out of their front yard and ran straight at us. I cried out as it happened, and desperately did my best to scoop my fox-sized dog into my arms to protect her in a way I didn’t with the pit bull. In the excitement, my phone clattered to a rest on the pavement a few steps away. The owner of the dog asked if we were ok. “Yup, no worries!” I chirped, grabbed my phone, and speed-walked away.

My iPhone screen has a fracture on the edge. It doesn’t get in the way of anything, and the six thin lines emerging from the point of impact aren’t significant enough to cut my finger or affect the daily use. It’s an annoyance, and a reminder. It’s a small thing caused by a big thing. It’s not a big deal, but it’s not nothing. It’s something I’d like to forget, but it’s a part of me now. Just a thing that happened to me once.