Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Too Cute

So fourteen pound Trudy the Cutie has been staying at my house, intimidating my sixty pound golden retriever Greenleaf Sadie Sue. It's too funny...this little white bit of fuzz curling her upper lip and making the big ole dog back off, down the hall, back off, there you go, no need to even think of coming down the hall when I am lying mid-way between dining room and Man-Cave. Don't even think about it. You stay down there. I'll preside here. I will let you know when it is time for you to move.

It's so funny because, to look at Trudy, one would think this creature is nothing but fluff. All white: the best color for cute dogs. Lots of soft-looking hair: no hairless, red-skinned, boney carcass here: this is angel hair, drifty white blur all 'round. And there are the eyes! Coal dropped into the snow-drift of face. These are phenomenal in their intense contrast. The ears? Diminutive papillon butterfly ears, delicate, fringed, pointy, cute elfin ears. Who could resist such a creature? Then Trudy sits primly, crossing one front paw coyly over the other and we're all suckers, taken in by a tiny dominatrix, determined to make us all mind.

Okay, maybe I'm being melodramatic. But Trudy the Cutie is no coy ingenue, trust me!

Trudy makes me think about what it means to be cute. Decades ago my parents thought I should cultivate my drawing skills and provided me with wonderful drawing manuals. One book about drawing animated creatures taught me that the best animations are infantile: these beings have over-sized heads, with the top half of the skull swelling way beyond normalcy; these beings have huge eyes, big, round eyes, with long, alluring lashes; these beings have undersized bodies, with minimal limbs and certainly no sign of musculature! These animated "babes" harken back to the cradle, helping viewers feel at ease at the cartoon critters' vulnerability, cuteness and harmlessness.

Watching Trudy the Cutie, I think of these instructions for creating cute animations. I also think of my golden retriever Sadie as a pup. My sister said young Sadie was so cute it hurt and that was true. I'd never seen a puppy cuter than Sadie. She was perfect! I took pictures of her daily and bored my colleagues with her images. I built a Power Point to memorialize her incredible sweetness! I sent e-mail after e-mail with images of this blonde, big-headed, dark-eyed softy. And what was that all about?

The "cartoon" image of Sadie was very different from the reality of Sadie, a dog so driven toward self-gratification that she bore the nickname "Doggie Terrorist." She could block out all instruction, all human guidance, if her goals required that focus. Just this weekend she proved, yet again, that her precious exterior is only veneer, that under the "cute" exterior of fluff and dark eyes is another creature, a steely mercenary who will not be stopped.

Looking at Trudy the Cutie, thinking about Sadie the doggie terrorist, I'm re-evaluating my assessment of cuteness. I may want to be more cautious when branding a creature the title of "Oh, So Cute!"

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