Right now, there is a puppy and a baby within my five meter radius.
They are both adorable, which explains why the children and the adults around them (myself included) are making all kinds of decidedly-less-than-adorable faces and noises.
The baby is pale, with large eyes that slant beautifully upwards, and a solemn gaze that is unfortunately only granted to very few infants. Right now, that gaze is directed at nine towering giants gathered round in a worshipful throng. The awed silence is interrupted by squeals of delight when the baby chirps two unexpected syllables: pa-pa.
The puppy, which was the focus of undivided attention before the baby’s arrival, is sprawling on the floor mournfully. (The melancholy has nothing to do with the loss of attention; this puppy is characteristically woebegone—a trait that endears it to me immensely. Its air of gravitas may have everything to do with the fact that it is a Shih Tzu with a haircut that makes it look like a Schnauzer. Even the Village People would have balked at such blatant identity suppression.)
I’m growing increasingly appreciative of babies and puppies—mostly because of the delight they provide to children and adults alike. We all need unwitting, uncomplaining receptacles for our affection: targets for exhausting the reservoir of goodwill that exists in surprisingly large amounts in every human being. Babies and puppies are safe; everywhere else we control, inhibit, restrain and suppress for fear of contempt, rejection, ridicule and distaste. With babies and puppies, we can be silly and ridiculous—are expected to be silly and ridiculous—and the few moments of unbridled, forgiven stupidity do us all a world of good (never mind if it traumatizes babies and puppies).
So until we’re brave enough to love—and show our love—without reserve, I can concede to the necessity of tiny people and tiny dogs.
And if all else fails—there’s always the stuffed pigs from Angry Birds.