Suppose I volunteered with The Humane Society because it's the holidays and I wanted to give something back to the community and also because I love animals so much. I do love animals--so much! (I didn't volunteer, but I could have.) Instead of actually volunteering, I watched real volunteers on TV. (For your convenience, go ahead and substitute "volunteering" in the previous sentence with "having 18 kids," "doing something about global warming," "being interesting," or "cooking a meal with side dishes.")
During the short segment I watched on KUTV at 5pm I saw something that horrified me. Needy animals are super cute to me--not horrifying. What I saw that horrified me was a grown man in a suit laying on the floor using a dog as a pillow and making a face at the camera that was much, much too happy. KUTV news, you lost me at man in a suit laying on the floor. That alone is not right. A man in a suit shouldn't wallow on the floor unless he just got home from work, is loosening his tie, and greeting his rough and tumble boys gamely--in which case, he wouldn't be on TV and I wouldnt' be watching. When a man gets on the floor in a suit it belies a certain relaxed intimacy that I, for one, have never felt with my my local TV news anchor. It was pretty hard to take.
And what of the volunteers surrounding him? My heart went out to them. I can imagine the discomfort of being so close to a man trying so hard to show his casual ease with and love for dogs without being able to move away from him or even look aghast. I can imagine the pain I would feel as I smiled and and realized that everyone watching might think that I think the man in a suit laying on the dog is normal.
And what about later, when the cameras are off and the man struggles to his feet and looks for something to wipe his hands on? What does one say to a person like that?
"Boy you sure do like dogs. And the floor. I noticed how comfortable you looked using that homeless dog as your pillow. Was it soft? Did you have to hold your head still so it wouldn't bounce up and down as he panted? If you had two dogs, would you put the other one under your feet or prop up your back a little? Most people wouldn't want to get down on the floor and get their suit dirty. But not you. You're such a cool guy! Nice meeting you, uh--nice holding the dog's leash while you laid on it. Well, goodbye. I'm glad you love dogs so much."