Saturday, April 30, 2016

Enjoying The Living Crap

It had been one of the first warm days of spring, and I was preparing to enjoy the living crap out of a few simple elements: a gentle breeze, a nice IPA, and a seat on the warm concrete front steps, just in the last perfect patch of sunlight. Earlier, it had been too hot; if I moved into the shade, one foot over, not quite warm enough. Friendly people walked by, neighbors waved. I'm not much of a sunshine person but I do love it when the sun warms you just enough and no more. The beer was splendid.

Just one thing was a little off. I smelled dog poop. And I am not a fan.

I hardly ever smell dog poop. By some miracle the entire society has changed over the last three decades such that people keep their dogs on little strings and bag up their poop. All this was basically unthinkable until not that long ago. There used to be dog poop everywhere.  Your neighbor's dog poop was in your yard and your dog's poop was in your neighbor's yard. Kids rolled around in it. It was chiggers and dog poop all day long.

"You look comfortable," my neighbor hollered, and I raised my beer, and said "Except I smell dog poop."

"NO!" she said, horrified. "Are you sure it isn't raccoon?"

Horrified, she was, I tell you. She's decades younger, and that's how much things have changed. Anyway, I was sure. I do have a poop field guide, but I didn't need to check it. It smelled like my childhood: honeysuckle, Pixie Sticks, thunderstorm ozone, and dog poop.

I checked my shoes. Clean. Some time in the 'nineties, my employer quit offering plain-soled shoes for our postal uniforms. You could only get the real grippy kind with a bunch of topography on the bottom. I hated them. I hated them because of St. Clair Street. There was one block of St. Clair that had a bunch of apartments, all pavement and parking lots and no dirt or greenery. And because this is Portland, and dog ownership is required by law, that meant there were two hundred dogs in that one block. Mostly little ones. Their devoted owners stuffed them in their purses with the makeup and the packet of tissues, walked outside, extracted them and set them on the sidewalk until they produced a pellet, just like popping a Pez. Probably 95% of these good people bagged the poop, but that still left a major raft of turdlets on the pavement. All I had to do is glance at the letters in my hand for one second and it was squish city. My plain-soled shoes could be depoopulated with one or two good scrapes on the curb, but the grippy ones with the waffle soles would get all mortared up. You had to lean up against the apartment building and turn on the spigot and use a stick to get it off. It took minutes and you still had to finish up with the indoor-outdoor carpeting at the apartment door.

Anyway, the poop was not on my shoes, but it was real close. Because I have a scientific mind, I found it by following some flies. It was right by the steps, about a yard away. So.

I really, really wanted to enjoy my seat in the sun with the beer and the nice passing people. I could have gotten a shovel and dug it in, or bagged it and put it in the trash, but half the point of being there was to be there, and not be somewhere else, doing some other thing.

The scientific term for this is "lazy." I looked at the flies. They seemed happy. I thought: let's try something. Tastes differ. The flies clearly like the smell of dog poop. What if I were to quit wrinkling up my nose, and become a fly, and imagine I like it too? I've always been credited with having a good imagination. The world is filled with annoying things, and we must do what we can, and then let the rest go. I leaned back. I owed it to myself, to the world, and to the sainted brewers of Ninkasi Total Domination India Pale Ale to give it a try. It had not been a high-capacity dog.

It worked. It took a second beer, but it worked.

31 comments:

  1. I would have had to scoop a shovelful of dirt over it, then get back to relaxing.

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    1. See, you'd have had to get up and get the shovel, though.

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  2. Another way to look at it: the poop attracts the flies, which are food for the birds -- maybe even the nuthatches that took over the Windowson's house. A good pile of poop in the vicinity of a nest box, and it's like the birds have their own cattle ranch.

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    1. I actually do like looking at it like that, thank you.

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  3. Charming. I would have driven myself crazy and set down the beer, cleaned up the mess, came back to cold beer with a wasp floating in it and been totally off for the rest of the day. Except in my case it would have been wine. You have made me realize that it has been years since I stepped in the stuff and smelled it!

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    1. But it's like riding a bicycle. You'd remember it.

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  4. I wonder if those millenials - or the non-dog-owning ones - would even be able to identify the smell of dog poop? Another reason, besides the best music era, why the boomer formative years were so superior to any other.

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  5. "...honeysuckle, Pixie Sticks, thunderstorm ozone, and dog poop."

    I'm happy to say that my childhood smelled like freshly mowed grass, marzipan, and stuffy but welcoming arcades, but not feces.

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  6. This is so funny, and so true about days when bagging was not done. It must have been fresh poop, because as I remember from my youth, dog poop does not smell unless squished, and it was squished often.

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    1. Also, when was the last time you saw hard white dog poop?

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  7. Pox on dog owners who think their dogs should be allowed to poop any place they want. I am not against dogs, but I don't want to see them in restaurants, or shopping centers and I don't like seeing dogs crap on sidewalks - even when it is picked up. Just tying a red bandanna around your pooches neck doesn't make it something that I want smelling my crotch or jumping on me. Many dog owners are invasive with their dogs. Dogs are like kids - you had them and you love them; but other people don't necessarily want to be inflicted by them.

    Old man yells at clouds: one of my pet peeves.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. We're skating on thin legal ice here not owning a dog, I think. When we did have one, she was considerably better behaved than most.

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  8. OT, as they say, but you said "flies" and that reminded me of Groucho Marx: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

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    1. My favorite joke to teach five year olds!

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  9. We had dung beetles.Worked a treat til the day a neighbour and I went 50-50 on a truckload of abattoir manure...

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    1. I've still never seen a dung beetle at work! It's on my bucket list.

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  10. I'm thinking that Ninkasi Total Domination India Pale Ale could be the answer to many other world problems.

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  11. There are fungi that smell like dog poop. At a certain time of year, the thick patch of liriope I have just reeks of dog poop, but it is just the stinkhorns.

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    1. Certain junipers smell strongly like cat pee. I think it might be the cat pee.

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  12. With all those other smells there was always dog poop to bring you back from your daydream to reality. Dogs would be the perfect being if it wasn't for poop. And biting, slobbering, and sticking their nose in your girlfriends crotch.

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  13. I am wondering if it was a small dog poop or a large dog poop. Then we could gauge the amount of beer needed to make it bearable. Hmmm, I wonder if heavy alcohol would be need for bear size or elk size. Must need a mixture for elephant size!

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    1. We brought in two yards of elephant poop one year. But we did have plenty of beer.

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  14. i guess the poop went the way of "i'll dial you up". mostly.

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    1. Yeah, you don't hear that too much anymore.

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  15. At the old house one summer, I kept catching a whiff of death as I walked in the front door. But I couldn't locate it and the mosquitoes were so thick that I wasn't wanting to engage in a mandatory blood-letting to investigate the malodor further. But as happens, it finally got to be too omnipresent to ignore. I got down on my hands and knees and sniffed around the entire deck and finally located a possum that was so far gone, he had to be shoveled out (after the overlying boards had been removed and after I had dry heaved for several minutes). Ah the good times...

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    1. Oh, I once had a post about this very thing! Only, happily, it was a foregone cat. Shit is way less hard on the olfactories.

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