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两条腿的人类吵架,四条腿的宠物传话

更新时间:2015-8-2 9:50:41 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

When Your Pet Is a Four-Legged Peace Broker
两条腿的人类吵架,四条腿的宠物传话

I say things to our cat Linda that I’m too emotionally constipated to say to my boyfriend: “I love you so much. I wish I could take you on the plane with me, Mrs. Scruffins McDandertop. When I get back, we will have many hourlong sessions of adoration and nuzzle-based loving.”

我对我们家猫琳达说的话都是我根本不好意思对男朋友说的:“我好爱你。要是能带你上飞机就好了。我的麦克丹达托普甜点夫人,等我回来咱们好好亲热,好好蹭蹭。”

It’s not that I couldn’t say this stuff to Greg, it’s simply that I’m not in the habit. I suppose I’m more apt to summon emotional baldness and affective need with Linda because she is mute and nonresponding; she can’t reflect back my candor and longing to scale, and thus I’m free of potential embarrassment. Linda’s typical response to such endearments is to extend one of her paws toward me as if my face were a touch screen.

倒不是说我不能对格里格(Greg)说这些话。我就是没这个习惯。我觉得还是对琳达表示直率的感情和爱意来得更自在,因为她沉默,不作回应;她不会酌情回应我的热情和渴望,所以我也就不可能觉得尴尬。对于我的甜言蜜语,琳达最典型的回答就是冲我伸出一只爪子,好像我的脸是触摸屏似的。

Am I out of line here? It strikes me that, while, yes, it would behoove me to express my feelings for other humans more freely, my cat-talking is of offense only if I were to do it in front of Greg frequently. In which case I may be better served learning to scrapbook or to configure the foam on cappuccinos into unicorns or Mahatma Gandhi.

我是不是有点过分了?让我惊讶的是,这能帮助我更自如地对其他人表达感情,我和猫的这些话,只有经常当着格里格说的时候才显得像是一种冒犯。在这样的情况下,我最好还是去看剪贴簿,或者把卡布奇诺的泡沫弄成独角兽或者圣雄甘地的形状。

A friend of mine employs his pet-talking to different ends. When in the presence of his wife and his dog, my friend will turn to the dog and say something like: “Tell Mommy that Daddy is upset that Mommy canceled on him. Mommy should know that it’s important to keep her commitments.”

我的一个朋友也和宠物说话,不过却有不同的效果。妻子和狗都在身边的时候,我的朋友会对狗说:“告诉妈妈,她取消了和爸爸的约定,爸爸觉得很不开心。妈妈应该知道说话得算话。”

Here is provocation. Though this deployment of a four-legged friend is admittedly odd and possibly manipulative, if waged infrequently it may be an acceptable and effective avenue toward reconciliation as long as a) it’s not done in front of people other than the wife, and b) leads to conversation in a form that both husband and wife are comfortable with, be that form spouse to spouse, or be it spouse to dog to African gray parrot to pet astrologist to spouse.

争议来了。尽管大家都觉得,利用我们的四条腿朋友显得很奇怪,而且还有点耍心机的感觉,但偶尔用一下也是可以接受的,而且还是通往和解的捷径,只要:a)别对妻子以外的人用;b)最后能够达成令夫妻双方都觉得舒服的对话,真正是伴侣之间的交谈,要么就是一方对狗再对非洲灰鹦鹉再对宠物算命师再对另一方之间的交谈。

The multimedia artist Camilla Ha said, “I tend to use animals as personal ‘feelings ventriloquists.’ ” Ms. Ha explained that her upstairs neighbor in Brooklyn, upon moving in, removed her own apartment’s wall-to-wall carpeting. Moreover, this neighbor and her partner both work in bars and come home regularly at 4 a.m. on weekdays, “which they seem to think is the perfect time to move furniture, drag heavy things up and down the stairs, and nail new pictures to the wall.”

多媒体艺术家卡米拉·哈(Camilla Ha)说,“我倾向于把动物当做个人的‘情感传话员’。”她解释说,她住在布鲁克林,楼上的邻居搬进来的时候,撤掉了原来铺满整间屋子的地毯,而且这位邻居和她的伴侣都在酒吧工作,工作日经常凌晨四点回来,“他们经常在这个时间挪动家具、搬重东西上下楼梯、在墙上钉新画。”

So Ms. Ha takes solace in talking to the couple’s French bulldog, Lilo, whenever she bumps into him and one of his keepers: “Oh, hello Lilo. You’re so frisky today! I wish I felt frisky, but your mommy woke me up again last night!”

于是哈只能和这一对的法国斗牛犬里洛说话求安慰,如果偶尔遇到这只狗和他的主人,她就说:“你好啊里洛,你今天可真够精神的!我就没那么精神了,你妈咪昨晚又把我吵醒了。”

Sometimes the neighbor “will snort in recognition, and then we go our separate ways.” But other times the neighbor will proceed to talk to Ms. Ha’s puppy, Zeus: “She’ll try to make amends with me by complimenting and conversing with Zeus while ignoring me. It’s become some kind of passive-aggressive-not-really-passive way of communicating.” What’s more, “I haven’t experienced any late-night disturbances in the past couple months, so maybe it’s working.”

有时候她的邻居会“哼一声,表示‘知道了’,然后我们就各走各路。”但是也有几次,邻居也会对哈的小狗宙斯说话:“她夸奖宙斯,和他聊天,同时又不理我,她想用这种方式向我道歉。这有点像‘被动-主动-其实不那么被动’的交流方式。”另外,“过去几个月,深夜里的响动消失了,可能这还真的挺管用的。”

The question of whether pets have an emotional life and whether their feelings can be “hurt” is a much-traveled roadway; the topic is to the book publishing industry as psychics are to the television drama. I have no, uh, dog in this race.

宠物是否有感情生活,他们的感情是否会受到“伤害”,是经常被人讨论的问题;在图书出版业中,这个话题就像有特异功能的人对电视剧来说一样。不过我没有这种容易受伤害的狗。

However, from the perspective of etiquette, the two questions that we should apply when it comes to the injection of pets into human affairs and disputes are: Is the dog being put in any kind of physical peril, and is any human other than the two having a dispute being in any way compromised or forced to stare into the middistance as if nothing weird is going on?

不过,从礼貌角度而言,把宠物卷入人类的事务和纠纷时需要注意两个原则:这只狗是否会面临身体上的危险;除了争执双方当事人,是否会有其他人会由于妥协或者被迫加入这个对话过程,还得假装没什么可奇怪的。

I would suggest that the problem area is occupied mostly by instances in which pets or their output are physically rather than conversationally deployed. Take the case of a couple I know who broke up some years ago; I would answer both questions with a qualified, “Maybe.”

我觉得会出问题的事情大部分是和宠物的身体及其排泄物有关,和人类的对话关系不大。就拿我几年前认识的一对分了手的伴侣来说吧,这两个原则他们违反了吗?回答是“不一定。”

The two lovers were so angry after their split that they could not bear to lay eyes on each other. So, when Partner A walked their joint-custody dog to Partner B’s apartment for the weekly handoff, Partner A would telephone Partner B from the sidewalk to announce arrival; then place the dog in the building’s operator-less elevator; then press 5, sending the dog up all by himself. I spend many hours imagining the facial expressions of the building residents on Floors 2, 3 and 4 who summoned the elevator and then stumbled onto McGruff the Crime Dog, busy on a new case.

这对恋人分手以后非常愤怒,根本不愿意正眼看对方。狗是他俩共同抚养的,每周都要换对方接手,其中一位带着狗到对方家里交接的时候,总是在路边给另一位打电话说他来了;然后就把狗放进没有管理员的公寓电梯里,按了五楼,让狗自己上去。我花了好几个小时去想,二三四楼的人打开电梯,看到这位“麦克古菲侦探狗”(McGruff the Crime Dog)的时候,脸上会是什么表情,大概是觉得它在忙着办案吧。

In the case of Danielle Cocanougher, a marketing manager for the iPhone app Allcal — or, rather, Ms. Cocanougher’s co-worker — I would answer the second question with a resounding, “Yes.” Ms. Cocanougher said that her colleague “dumps his kitty litter next to his neighbor’s fence in retaliation for tearing down his fence one day while he was out of town.”

还有丹妮尔·可卡努尔(Danielle Cocanougher)的例子,她是苹果手机应用Allcal的市场总监——其实应该说是她同事的例子——关于第二个原则,这位同事肯定是违反了。可卡努尔说,这位同事“把自家猫的屎扔进邻居家的院子,报复对方在他不在家的时候拆掉了他家的篱笆。”

Ms. Cocanougher said that her co-worker is “definitely proud that he has come up with this solution”; asked for her own response to the situation, Ms. Cocanougher said, “That can’t be good for anyone’s yard.”

可卡努尔说她的同事“很骄傲自己能想到这个办法,”还想让她夸自己,可卡努尔说,“这种东西放在任何人的院子里都不好。”

Some domestic disputes are so acute that no amount of pet-talking or kitty-litter-distributing can clear the air or wreak vengeance. Ms. Ha said that she used to live in an industrial loft on the South Side of Chicago, where one of her artist roommates was an unemployed fellow whom she calls Droopy.

有些内部纠纷过于严重,和宠物聊天或者扔猫屎不能缓和气氛,也无法用来报复。哈说,她曾经住在芝加哥南区一个工业loft,有一个艺术家室友,没有工作,叫德鲁比(Droopy)。

“On the rare occasion Droopy bothered to come out of his room, he shuffled around in a pair of tattered slippers that became my personal ‘Tell-Tale Heart,’ driving me mad any time I’d hear that sloven’s dreary shuffle across the concrete floor,” she said.

“德鲁比偶尔会从房间出来,穿着破破烂烂的拖鞋到处走,好像是‘泄密的心’(Tell-Tale Heart)一样让人发疯,我一听见那双破拖鞋在水泥地上刮蹭的可怕声音,就觉得受不了。

“Droopy had a cat named Cat Cat. Cat Cat had never been fixed. She meowed her tortured death sex meow all day and night. But the best part was the peeing. She peed everywhere, but mostly on anything that belonged to me. My housemates and I insisted that Droopy get Cat Cat fixed. He claimed he wanted to but couldn’t afford it. Anytime I found a new item of mine she’d peed on, I’d gently toss her in Droopy’s room, saying: ‘Oh, did Cat Cat pee on my favorite sweater? Doesn’t Cat Cat wish a responsible adult would get her fixed?’ ”

“德鲁比养了一只猫,名字就叫‘猫猫’。猫猫没做绝育,发情的时候没日没夜哀嚎。但最厉害的还要算是撒尿。她到处都尿,主要还是往我的东西上尿。其他室友和我要给猫猫绝育,他却说他没钱。每次我发现她又在我东西上撒尿,就和颜悦色地拎着她到德鲁比的房间里说:‘啊,猫猫是不是又尿在我最喜欢的衣服上了?猫猫是不是觉得一个负责任的成年人应该带她去绝育?’”

But this time, the ventriloquizing didn’t produce its desired results. “At some point,” Ms. Ha said, “we roommates all realized that we were no match for Droopy’s listless defiance, and eventually found a free neutering service not too far from the warehouse. On the day of the appointment, we gave Droopy $1.50 for the bus, put Cat Cat in a cat carrier, and gently pushed them out the door.”

但是这一回,这种传话没能达到预期的效果。哈说“最后我和室友们都明白,我们斗不过德鲁比的消极抵抗,最后我们找了一个免费绝育服务,不过离我们住的地方很远。到了预约的那天,我们给了德鲁比1.5美元坐公交车,把猫猫放进猫篮里,温和地把他俩推出了家门。”

Indeed, pets can be portal openers. The other day, I found myself cuddling and whispering to Linda. When my endearments started to get a little purple, I went into the other room and told Greg that I love him. Then I dangled a piece of string in front of his face.

诚然,宠物可以帮人们打开交流的大门。有一天,我抱着琳达,和她窃窃私语。后来我的辞藻变得太夸张了,于是我就到另一个房间里,告诉格里格我爱他。然后对着他的脸晃动逗猫的绳子。

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