That was the classic SLN skit from the Seventies that kept going through my mind today, and I felt guilty about it. After all, it wasn’t a rude John Belushi who had come to our house. It was the wonderful woman who had rescued our dog from neglectful owners, taken him to her home, nursed him to health, and allowed us to adopt him. We are so grateful to her for her compassion and kindness, so when she and her friend, who also had been involved in the rehabilitation of Spuds, asked to stop by and see how he was doing after being a member of the Marshall family for three weeks, of course we said yes.
Spuds was, predictably, thrilled to see them, and they were emotional about seeing him in such good health and spirits. We invited the two women in, of course, offered them refreshments, engaged in conversation about our dog’s progress and adventures.
How long would you say would be a reasonable time for such an encounter? They stayed for three hours, from 2 pm to 5.
We showed them the house, Spuds’ toys, and the neighborhood. I allowed them to take the dog for a walk, with me as guide. The only topic of conversation the entire time was this dog and other dogs, because we have nothing else in common really, though it’s not as if they wanted to talk about anything else.
Grace and I had things to do, things that we had planned to do, things like, oh, getting some posts up on Ethics Alarms. But neither my wife nor I wanted to do or say anything to make the two very nice women uncomfortable or to make them feel like they were imposing. They saved our dog! We are so grateful to them for their kindness and caring!
I honestly began to think they would never leave. Grace asked if they were hungry. No. They just wanted some water, and didn’t want refills. I thought the walk would be a nice coda to the visit, since it took place about 90 minutes in: Good suggestion, Grace! Yet when we returned after 30 minutes, we passed their car, came up the walk, went in the house, and they sat down again.
Now what? Fake a heart attack? Sneak into the bathroom with my cell phone and call my home line, as my wife pretended it was the police, reporting that my son has been in an accident?
There just didn’t seem any way out except to wait, smile, and act as if we had all the time in the world. I thought they might have gotten a hint when my wife literally repeated word for word the same story three times at hour intervals. I considered offering to recite “The Highwayman”—that worked at driving guests away when I was in junior high. Wait! Talk politics! Make fun of Joe Biden! Put on the the MAGA hat—except that I don’t have one, and I really didn’t want to do anything that might upset these sweet people, like making them think the dog they had rescued was being trained by a deplorable racist facist.
The interminable visit finally came to an end, like the Hundred Years’ War, Revolution #9, the Roman Empire and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They left happy, we waved, everyone hugged, the dog got kissed, and the day was shot.
Did we have any ethical alternatives besides just letting the visit take its course?