CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Not long ago, I was sitting on the picnic table at the dog park when a man in a lab coat came over and sat on the other end of the bench. He was clearly upset about something, so I asked if he wanted to talk.
"I did something awful," he said. "I slept with one of my patients."
Phew, I thought. Was worried for a second there he was going to say he'd killed a woman at a dog park.
"That's not so bad," I said. "I'm sure that kind of thing happens all the time."
"You don't understand," he said. "I'm a vet."
"Oh, please," I said, with a wave of my hand. "I sleep with dogs all the time. Every night. Cats, too."
"I don't think you're getting me," the man said. He let out an exasperated sigh, ran his fingers through his thinning hair. "I mean ... in the carnal sense."
"You slept with a cardinal?" I said. "That's adorable! But weren't you afraid of rolling over on it? I mean, my mom raised a blue jay once, and she used to nap with him sometimes, but not out and out sleep, like in the all-night sense. She'd be snoozing on the couch and the jay would fly over and snuggle down on her, tuck his head under his wing. I guess if you need someone to talk to about sleeping with birds, she might be able to help."
He opened his mouth to speak, but after a long moment, closed it again. He stared at me strangely, shook his head, and then left. I was relieved to see him go. There was something not quite right about the man.