Nuggets I picked up from my dog, No. 7

Bash on regardless

While following the hound up the hill in the morning before you’re fully awake, you tend to keep your head down and eyes focused on the current slab of sidewalk coming into view between your two feet.

Coffee J. Dogg and unidentified syncophant

Nuggets are bits of wisdom gleaned from daily walks with my dog, Coffee.
He had a soft, furry head and he never complained. He left for stars unknown in 2010.

You do this because looking into the light to see where you’re going might actually wake you up and force you to confront the day, the life, the whole do-good-avoid-evil imperative.

Each slab of concrete becomes a soothing blank slate–what ancient nuns from the Dobygilliscene epoch called a tabula rasa (Today it refers to a small iPad without wi-fi or a twitter account.)

Disbelief is suspended as a variety of dream apps populate each concrete slate with images, some of them in thrilling 3-D. For instance, suddenly, there on your blank sidewalk slate stands a lowly garbage can which, as you’re still only half awake, you’ve now blundered into.

Is there a sorrier sight or sound than a grown man knocking into a garbage can in the broad daylight of a clear morning, then tumbling to the earth, up over down, with profane humiliation?

This can is one of those 64-gallon plastic behemoths wheeled out of a garage the night before and parked smack in the middle of the walking lane.

Who relaxed the perfectly sensible rule about placing the garbage can on the curb, or at least on that patch of grass between sidewalk and road? You would like to see that person in your office tomorrow at 9 a.m., sharp.

Another entertaining facet of garbage-canology, and this one, surely, exhausts the list, is the way some owners mark their cans with their own distinctive brand. Most common is the Sharpie-applied street number, marking both can and lid.

Sometimes the numbers are neatly and even artfully applied. Every now and then you can see that someone has made a stencil to trace the numbers to anal perfection, sometimes in one font for the can and another for the lid.

Other attempts are woefully inadequate. Too many owners resort to the paint brush, or worse, a can of spray paint. They spray large, wide, usually unreadable letters and numbers, sometimes an entire home address with zip code.

The hideous evidence of slowly dripping paint sliding down the rounded sides of the can gives the numbers and letters a Freddy Kruger look.

This suggests a lack of close attention paid during the formative years with the finger paints. Other times, illegible numbers scrawled almost angrily on the side of a can suggest troubling personal issues at play.

Still, you live in a time where a man without a brand is quite obviously a man without a can. Who can shoulder such a burden? After all, even a badly painted can is proof that you’ve come to this table to play and not simply to observe.

These are the kinds of thoughts that sustain/torture you in stumbling transition from sleep to semi-wakefulness. Yet sometimes when you shuffle past a can with a really sloppy lettering job, you wonder if this owner may have left himself open to the potential of a “troubling neighborhood incident.” 

For example, take the knuckle-headed neighbor up the street, the one with the motorcycle and the really high handlebars. That has to cause some stiffness during a ride because when he rolls into his driveway and gets off the bike, he walks into his house with his hands seemingly raised in surrender.

He is the type who doesn’t mark his trash receptacle. In fact, he doesn’t even have a lid to keep the empty beer bottles and ammunition boxes from spilling into the street.

Let’s say that, inadvertently one day, this knucklehead grabbed the lid to your personal can thinking it was his. What other recourse would you have but to knock on his door and ask pleasantly, but firmly for the immediate, unconditional surrender of the lid to your can?

Oh? Your lid? Can you prove that?

You confidently point to your name, applied in haste to the lid sometime back. Although you have to admit now that the dripped paint is just a bit illegible. Now what do you do?

You run across the street and paw through your receipts and find the one from the day you brought that spanking new member of the family home last summer from Home Depot.  And when the numb knuckle sneers “That doesn’t prove anything!” then what?

Risk a jail term by punching him out? Undoubtedly it’s been done. The issue of garbage can rage is woefully under reported in our national media.

If you don’t punch the guy out, then what? A lawsuit? Over a garbage can lid? Without doubt it’s an area of legal practice that some lawyer is using even now to pay off the insurance on his sullen teen’s Hummer.

Maddening issues such as these lay on your sleepy dream-susceptible mind like a hippo on mud. Any moment now you will wake up and smell the dog.

In the meantime, as you approach the house of the neighbor directly across the street from said knucklehead, you can almost see him in his pajamas skulking behind the pear tree on his front lawn. With a high whining of breaks, the truck bearing the garbage gendarmes arrives at his curbside display.

You can almost hear the neighbor gasp as the trash tosser carelessly chucks the plastic boysenberry lid to his very own plastic boysenberry can into the driveway of the dorknuckle across the street.

   It comes to a rolling stop against the knucklenuck’s celery colored can, a distinct violation of the international rules of color-coordination but perfectly fine for a daydream.

As the garbage truck grumbles from the scene, the neighbor makes a dash across the street, silent except for the telltale flapping on the pavement of his large bare feet. (You picture a seal repeatedly slapping the face of a captured seal-hunter.)

The neighbor grabs his boysenberry lid with a triumphant smirk and is halfway back across the street with it. The sweet, cool succor of his own garage beckons just a few steps away.

And then the morning stillness is shattered by a loud report. You immediately identify the sound as either a Ruger M77 MkII VT varmint rifle or the stubbing of your toe on a sidewalk slab followed by your scream.

Coffee dog and you have reached the top of the hill and your eyes have come almost regretfully to their full and upright locked position.

You suck in a breath, step around the dead man blocking your way and proceed to proceed. For the rude fact remains: eventually you have to open your eyes and bash on, regardless.


Note: For more about Coffee J. Dogg and the origins of these essays, click on the menu bar “Nuggets I Picked Up From My Dog”

 ©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.

This entry was posted in Dogs I Have Known, The human comedy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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