Thursday, July 26, 2007

When A Neighbor's Dog Craps in Your Yard...

a column:

Confession: I watched a neighbor's dog take a crap in my yard. Neither the neighbor nor the mutt knew I was watching, but from behind the glass film of my front door, I saw it all: the neighbor slackening her wrist, loosening the leash, the black Labrador cocking its leg and conquering the grass. There was no pooper-scooper in sight. What a disgrace. What a goddamned disgrace.

I had two options: I could threaten the stinky canine with a futbol kick to its snout, or I could confront its owner with "This ain't no toilet" finger-pointing. I chose none of the above. Out the door I went to examine the evidence.

The evidence was crap.

"That's so not cool," I yelled, throwing my hands up in the air.
By this point, my neighbor was fifteen feet down the road, close enough to face me, but far enough to pretend she only heard my intonation and not my exact words. We checked each other up and down, Dirty-Harry style, except this moment was less cinematic, with dog crap rather than tumbleweeds and my shirtless, curls-of-proud-chest-hair physique in place of Eastwood's sweated-brow.

But, oh, how I stared at my neighbor. I stared at her until she padded down the sidewalk. Because of me, her canine's sloppy business would haunt her dreams. Forever. That was my noble victory: flogging the woman with a guilt trip.

The term "guilt trip" implies the arched eyebrows of a teenage girl in enormous sunglasses: "Mindy, it's no big deal," this girl would say, sighing into her sparkle-studded cell phone, "Don't worry about it, just don't do it again."

"No big deal" means that whatever the deal is, it's huge, and "Don't worry about it" means Mindy ought to start worrying, because she is severely screwed.

This girl talk represents a classic "guilt trip", and that fact alone make me feel, well, guilty for employing these girls' tactics to deal with the problematic people and pups in my own life. If anything, the "no big deal" girls use more linguistic aplomb than I managed with "That's not so cool!" Their words have hidden meanings, while mine only had a whiny bluntness when it came to animal excrement.

In my defense, I flash my verbal nunchucks when it comes to other matters. I've never thrown a punch outside a Taekwondo tournament, but I have used words to wear. people. down. slowly. and. painfully. When I say people, I mean my mom.

"Andy''s mom lets him drive and he's even younger than me," I said, fifteen years old and bratty in the passenger seat. "I just don't understand, that's all..."

My mother was driving me home from school, and I was pissed-off that my learner's permit had given me nothing more than parking-lot practice.

"It's okay, I guess I'll just never drive..."

My mom's forehead pulsed red. It. was. working. Tick-tick-tick.

"It's just, I don't understand."
"Fine!" The tires squealed as she slashed towards a side-road. She parked abruptly by the curb. "Drive!" she said.

I did the whole who-me? routine, and then I took the wheel. I was driving. All thanks to the annoying pow of my guilt-trip. In the words of Marshal Mathers, I said I'm sorry, mama.

The car episode was years ago; the dog episode was days ago. When it comes to guilt trips, have I grown up, or have I regressed? The truth is, I don't think I've matured all that much. For those of us closer in spirit to Woody Allen than Mike Tyson, we need to get creative if we want to nonviolently vent our frustrations.

When the dog-lady goes to sleep tonight, I want her to picture me squatting on her lawn, pants down at my ankles, fat smile on my face. At peace.


1 comment:

Jeff said...

rather than the passive aggressive approach, how about being more direct and just saying, "would you like a bag to clean that up?". they won't do it again, and they'll respect you for it, instead of hating you forever for being angry at them.