I often think of the 1975 cult classic “A Boy and His Dog,” starring the then-unknown Don Johnson, when Lucy and I walk through the parks in Arlington. Not for the obvious reason, but because Arlington County reminds me a lot of the parts of the movie that take place in “Downunder,” a (relatively) beautiful underground biosphere that protects its inhabitants from the dystopian desert that the world above has been reduced to.
Here’s why: when the boy is lured into Downunder, he’s told that he’s been brought there to help repopulate the place with the help of what appears to be the evening shift of the Las Vegas Playboy Club. Great, right? But he learns that the procedure is more clinical than he had hoped when they strap him onto a gurney and strap him into a … well, it looks like something you’d find in a dairy barn.
Arlington, like Downunder, is a (relatively) beautiful aboveground biosphere that protects its inhabitants from the nearby morally bankrupt desert that Washington DC has been reduced to. It’s got bike trails and dog parks, food assistance centers and pub crawls. It even has a sign that explains that the large wasp you see digging in this playground sandbox (or in this case, posing near the sign) is a harmless little critter that just wants to lay its eggs in the sand. Cute, right?
But not 20 yards from that sign, you’re very likely to be stopped by a badge-wearing animal control officer who will explain to you in excruciating detail that it is against the law to allow your dog to roam off-leash outside of the designated dog park even after you explain that you are well aware of the law but you choose to ignore it on days like this, “because there isn’t anyone else in this entire park except you and me and Lucy, and she’s about as dangerous than that sand wasp over there in the sandbox.”
So Lucy and I are done with dog parks and no-dog parks and grumpy badge-wearing animal control cops. We’re going to stay down near the river where the only thing that can bother us is snakes and snapping turtles, drunk day-laborers, and the occasional bear sighting.