The Plight of the Ponytail
The pretty picturesque countryside of middle Pennsylvania announces that I am an intruder. I'm interrupting much of the domestic and wildlife along the back roads. You may ask how I know this... I know this because, like a boat wake, I shuffle my feet on the hot asphalt with a rippling intrusion and presence.
A huge doberman pinscher makes an "out-of-no-where" dash towards me showing off his pearly whites and ear-piercing bark. I freeze and stare him down. I'm not afraid of dogs and I thank Cesar Milan's "Dog Whisperer" TV show for teaching me.
A young boy then bursts through the screen door of the house on the side of the road.
"Max! MAX! Leave that lady with the ponytail alone!"
The boy, who was half the size of the dog, grabs the beast's collar and walks him back to the house. I try sneaking away when the little boy yells to me,
"Hey lady! Sorry about my dog. He does it all the time. He hates walkers. I wish I could go for a walk with you but my mom won't let me. I have to stay in the yard. Where are you going?"
I'm taken by the verbal exchange of trust from a little boy. How does this happen? I wonder if he feels comfortable enough to converse with me because I have a ponytail? Or is it my confidence, stance or posture, dealing with his vicious four-legged friend? Or maybe it has little to do with me. Maybe he's just lonely and wants a buddy.. I talk and walk and smile back to this little guy. He stands at the edge of his driveway, until I am out of sight.
I make the turn onto Stoney Road when a woman in a late model Kia slows down beside me. She rolls her window down and asks,
"Have you seen a black and white little dog? He's a Maltese. I lost him last night along this road and haven't seen him all morning."
"I haven't seen a small dog, no. But I will keep my eyes open for it. I'm making a complete circle around the area. It's about a three mile hike for me."
Then she asks a curious question.. At least I'm thinking it's a curious question, to ask a stranger...
"Will you help me look for him?"
Now I'm really wondering. It absolutely must be the ponytail...
"Sure, I'd love to help you. Why don't you park your car over there and let's cover the next half mile together."
We walk for about a half hour calling for "Odie", but no dog. She thanks me, gets back in her car and goes on her way.
I promise you, I hadn't walked another two hundred feet when again, another car stops me along my walk on Carlisle Road.
"Do you know where the Smith's home is?" she yells.
"I'm sorry ma'am, I'm not from around here..."
"OK", she says. "My son is supposed to go to a birthday party today somewhere on this road and we just can't find their house."
I try to help.
"You know, I can look on the White Pages app on my iPhone and see if we can get an address," I said.
"Oh wow," she said. "That would be great!"
So here I am on the side of the road using my iPhone to find her son's friend's birthday party location. And as hilarious as all this sounds, I actually find a name and address that matches what she thinks is right.
She screams and says,
"OH, thank you! That's it! That's it! I completely forgot the number of the house, but now that you say it - that's it! Thanks so much! Love your ponytail, by the way! Looks cute sticking out the back of your hat."
I'm convinced now. It absolutely IS all about the ponytail.
It could also be the answer to a prayer I prayed earlier in that morning.
"Lord, put people in my path today."
It's common for those who wear tight ponytails to experience what's called traction alopecia, a form of hair loss, believe it or not. It can also cause a headache if the hair is stretched back too tightly.
But for today, there is no loss. And there is no headache. But there surely was a lot of stretching going on.