The Newsletter Thingy

The Sybarite Newsletter: Summer Bodies and a Tiny Weekend Trauma

Be careful whom you come for.

Adeline Dimond


Diana at the Bath, Louis Desplaces | Metropolitan Museum of Art, Open Access Program

Fellow Sybarites, this is going to be a short newsletter. Writing short things is usually beyond me, but I’m about to walk down the street to get a craniosacral massage, which I need after what happened yesterday morning.

But first! I am so excited — that’s not the right work, “pumped” is more the right word — that Kyrie Gray published this charming, beautifully written and illustrated, poignant and funny piece about, well, bathing suits. And bodies. And reflection. And I’m just honored, and I’m saying that with utmost earnestness. I feel like my bitchy insistence on Sybarite only publishing really, truly good work is paying off, even if that means some weeks I/we publish nothing. It’s all worth it when someone like Kyrie shows up.

Pivot: did you think the subtitle of the newsletter — warning all of us to be careful whom we come for — was about Israel? I’d understand if you thought that given recent events, but it’s not. Although as you many of you know, I have a strong opinion about that whole sitch.

No, it’s about a slightly traumatic thing that happened yesterday: an off-leash dog attacked my dog Fish. Thing is, it didn’t end too well for the other dog.

Fish and I were doing our regular walk, a walk that he insists on and I, as a bad dog owner, just give into. We were walking on one side of the street, uphill, when I saw something race out of an open garage door on the other side of the street. It was a smaller, gray, fuzzy muppet-like thing. Time slowed down when I realized what was happening.

I’d like to think I tried to pull Fish away before they made contact, but I’m pretty sure there’s a good chance I froze. Soon I heard myself screaming “come get your dog!” Her dog had at this point lunged at Fish, and I kept screaming over and over, while trying to pull Fish away.

But see, Fish is very protective of me. And he wasn’t having it. Soon Fish had this dog by its neck and was shaking it like a rag doll, and the dog was squealing. Somebody said the shaking is called “the shark shake,” and I’m too freaked out to google what that means. I’m pretty surprised I didn’t pass out entirely because the combo of seeing another living being squealing and flopping around in the mouth of the dog who sleeps next to you at night is…a lot.

Soon — or maybe it took forever, I don’t know — the perpetrator/victim dog’s owner came running across the street. That’s when I heard three doors close on nearby houses; apparently everyone had come out to hear what I was screaming about, and once the owner somehow got her dog out of Fish’s jaws, there was nothing left to see.

I yelled after the woman “I think your dog must be injured!” I was breathless and my heart was racing, and then I sort of wailed “but he came after us!” “I know,” she said, sitting across the street, holding her dog looking for injuries, scowling at me.

Then we left. Fish didn’t have a scratch on him, but he was pretty amped. At the top of the hill I called Los Angeles Animal Control to get ahead of it all. Even though this was 100% not our fault — we were across the street, on leash, her dog was off-leash and attacked us — I know how people can be.

I know that people can look at a target like Fish who is just minding his own business, sniffing the flowers, and then when he defends himself and his person aggressively, inflicting puncture wound after puncture wound, ready to finish the job but for his annoying person pulling on the leash, the narrative can change.

Soon Fish will be considered the aggressor; soon the fact that Fish was across the street on a leash will be forgotten; soon the Muppet dog’s aggression will be forgotten, or forgiven, and there will be excuses made for the Muppet dog: he didn’t like being behind a fence, so when the garage door opened, what was he supposed to do? The narrative will be reduced to who was hurt more in the end, no context, no nuance, no morality.

Animal Control told me that the woman couldn’t make a report without our address, so I tried to let it go. After all, as upsetting as it was to imagine that the Muppet dog was injured, Fish was fine.

Anyway, this story isn’t a metaphor for anything. It’s just why I need a massage.

AD, Sybarite-in-Chief,

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Here’s a former introduction to Sybarite, before we (I) decided to open it up to personal essays.