Young Man In A Hurry
How To Pull With A Pomeranian
In his local pub, our columnist finds the landlord’s dog taking a shine to him – followed by half the female clientele
I think my spirit animal is a pomeranian. Either that or a bichon frise. I’d always assumed that it’d be something a little bit cooler, like a bull shark or a vampire bat, but there you go. As Mr Mick Jagger once crooned – and he may very well have been referring to his own disappointing spirit animal here – “you can’t always get what you want”. In my case, I didn’t choose small, effeminate dogs; small, effeminate dogs chose me. They’re drawn to me, for whatever reason, like moths to a flickering strip light.
It could well be something to do with that vacant, slightly gormless expression that settles over my features whenever I’m concentrating, and which has the unfortunate effect of knocking about 75 points off my apparent IQ. I could be translating Urdu to Swahili in real-time or contemplating the nature of four-dimensional space, but to an outside observer it looks like I’m daydreaming about chasing squirrels or digging holes to bury bones. Dogs like that. It’s relatable. “You get it,” they think. “You get what we’re all about here.”
Which brings me to this dog. It’s Sunday afternoon in my local, and I’ve secreted myself away in a quiet corner where I’m attempting to finish an article on whether it’s ever acceptable to wear pyjamas (OK, pyjama shirts) to work. It’s no easy task, as you can imagine – business attire is a sartorial minefield – and my furrowed brow has attracted the attention of the landlord’s dog, a poodle called Lulu, who has been sitting at my feet and staring at me, head cocked quizzically to one side, for the best part of an hour now.
It’s off-putting, to be honest. Can a man not write about pyjamas in peace? But for all that I’m disturbed by her blank, yet strangely piercing gaze – seriously, it feels like she’s looking straight into my soul – I’m quite happy for this strange little dog to remain there, if it dupes my fellow pub-goers into believing she’s mine. I’ve never been approached by so many women in my life. “Boy or girl?” “What’s her name?” “Is she friendly?” Ladies, please. Just ask me if I’m single already.
To figure out what’s going on here, we have to go back a few years. Coming of age in the chauvinistic, patriarchal society that was middle England in the early 2000s, I was led to believe that the ultimate badge of desirability was a car. So, like many of my contemporaries, I immediately invested in a set of wheels: a 1992 Fiat Uno, nicknamed Bruno. Boasting a fearsome 45-brake horsepower, four-speed manual transmission and a jet-black paint job, Bruno cemented my status as an eligible young man-about-town. I am Danny Zuko; form an orderly queue; et cetera, et cetera.
But this isn’t the early 2000s any more. This is 2016, the age of the millennial. And owning a car – especially in a city like London – doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Seriously: I could take an Uber Lux everywhere for a year and it’d still cost me less than the annual depreciation on a new Mercedes. Never mind that the Uber also comes with the added bonus of free petrol, tax and insurance, plus the services of someone to drive it for you.
The first thing you have to understand about “millennials” – that’s the generation born between 1980 and 2000 – is that we’re basically over owning stuff. Personal property is so 2008. Our money is invisible, our data is in the cloud – which, as it turns out, isn’t an actual cloud, but just someone else’s computer – and our media is ephemeral. We’ve got too much debt and are paid too little to concern ourselves with such extraneous matters as whether we’ll ever be in a position to own these big-ticket, once-essential items like a house or a car.
So-called luxury goods are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, too, and as their exclusivity fades so does their value as a status symbol. Everybody has an iPhone now. Everybody has a MacBook. Every straight-out-of-college intern with a credit card has theoretical access to a designer handbag, assuming they’re willing to live hand-to-mouth for the next three years in order to pay for it. Cashmere is everywhere. Leather, once regarded as the ultimate investment purchase, is everywhere. Biannual sales see prices on six-month-old designer clothes slashed by 75 per cent or more. Mass production, rampant consumerism and easy access to credit have combined to dismantle the traditional concept of luxury, prompting the question of what the word even means in 2016.
And that, dear readers, is where Lulu comes in. She represents the one thing that money can’t buy: time. And by allowing her to sit here – OK, I’m not allowing her, she refuses to go away – I’m projecting an image of myself as someone with an abundance of it. A rat-race refusenik, free from the shackles of long working hours and crippling commutes. That is the new luxury. That is why Instagram is awash with snaps of dogs and why it’s harder to get a match on BorrowMyDoggy than it is on Tinder. Because in a cash-rich, time-poor city like London, dog ownership says more about you than a car ever could. Think of it this way: who’s better off? The guy who can afford to drive a Lamborghini or the guy who can afford two hours to take the dog out on a Wednesday afternoon?
If only they knew the truth: that I’ve barely got time to keep a house plant alive, let alone a dog, and that I’m only here on a Sunday pretending to write about pyjama shirts because I spent so long pretending to write about them during the working week. Speaking of which, you’ll have to excuse me. I’ve got a very important article to attend to.