#2 daughter and Extra Boy and I were at the farmers market, which is heavily populated with dogs, and found ourselves playing the popular game, “What kind of dog are you?”

Extra Boy? Well, I don’t want to use people’s actual names here, but I have to call them something. Most of the nicknames are literary allusions, private jokes, things that will allow the family to recognize them. None of the nicknames is intended to be an insult. Unless you find yourself here with the nickname Nasty Woman, you can safely assume that there is nothing bad about the nicknames I’m using. And Pinky, this means you.

But I digress. Extra Boy thought he would be a golden retriever. I could definitely see that, since we have one of those at our house. Extra Boy is laid back, good-natured, and fun. #2 daughter said she would be a Dalmatian. I figured she meant showy, glamorous, and rare. Extra Boy, who has a mystical connection to firehouses, figured she meant she hung out at firehouses.

So much of this game has to do with how the people involved think of a particular dog. When I brought it up at work, The Empress thought she herself would be a Doberman. She is a good, sweet woman, and generally mild-mannered, but she has that feisty combative streak, too. Then she thought That Man would be a bulldog. Sophia, #1 daughter’s bulldog, is pictured above. Her theme song would be “Got to be Starting Something!” But of course I don’t know That Man as well as The Empress does. The Poster Queen she thought would be a dachshund.

She then said that I would be a basenji. I have heard a lot about her basenji over the years. Said basenji has been reported as being difficult and untrustworthy, so I went home and googled basenjis to see whether I was being insulted or not. Basenjis, I learned, are intelligent, hardworking, and loyal. That’s me. They are also described diplomatically as “not obedient dogs.” Also me. They are also strange dogs. They yodel. They seem to have a different genetic makeup from ordinary dogs. You never know what they might do.

It was not an insult. But it was another reminder that my own image of myself is not the same as other people’s. I continue to think of myself as a very ordinary, pleasant matron. I am surprised when others say things that suggest that I am in some way eccentric. Fortunately, no matter how much evidence I receive that other people find me unusual, I am able to continue to think of myself as a nice, ordinary woman. Maybe a cocker spaniel. Or maybe basenjis are ordinary dogs and the other ones are unusual, even though there are a lot of them.