Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In my pajamas. With a metal shovel. In the observatory.

My lord, I wrote my last post more than a month ago (sorry) and the title is still appropriate. We're still puppy potty training and we're still suffering from the arctic blows of winter.

Damn.

Two silver linings: The dog can make it almost eight hours without an accident and, thanks to the frigid temperatures, the gross puppy turds freeze right into the snow and are super easy to scoop.

That's what I happened to be doing this afternoon, actually—scooping frozen turds with a metal shovel and hucking them into the woods—when I was struck with the idea for this blog post. See, I've been home sick with the stomach bug for the last few days and I happened to be out in my pajamas and winter coat around 2 p.m., scooping and hucking, while Nellie did her business and Everett napped (workaholic, who, me?) when my cell phone started exploding.

I ripped off my gloves, grabbed my phone and saw that my neighbors had started a group text about moi.

"Hey, Mrs. Mullet! Diggin' the plaid jammies!"

"Scooping poop again?"

"Is that a metal shovel in your pocket...or just dog shit?"

I ignored the texts at first—and my impulse to text back, Don't u people have anything better 2 do??—but they kept coming.

The thing about my neighborhood is that we're a close-knit group of families with young children, which is lovely, but collectively we spend way too much time looking out of our windows. And even though everyone has as least half an acre of tree-laden property, everyone seems to be able to see everything. (I don't want to say the B word but I think I have to. Rhymes with pinoculars?)

The epidemic is called Side Street Syndrome (go on, Google it). It's when life on a slow street gets way too small and you start tuning into your neighbors' lives with a ferocity you once reserved for Survivor.

Eighty-year-old Mr. Heckenspeck's cleaning his gutters on a rickety ladder? Must.Watch. Ruth the nurse has a blue truck in her driveway even though her husband drives a green one? Must.Watch.

Speaking of watching, it's contagious. If someone gets a sofa delivered, suddenly the whole neighborhood knows.

"Oooooh, did you see so-and-so had a Raymour and Flanigan delivery?"

"I did! Teal, no less!"

And yes, even though everyone works, no one ever seems to physically be at work. Which is why my damn phone was exploding at 2 p.m.—a perfectly reasonable time of day to expect to scoop dog poop in peace—over me, a pasty, middle-aged woman wielding a metal shovel and wearing plaid flannel pajamas, a furry hood, and enormous snow boots.

"Come scoop my yard, baby!"

"Shouldn't your husband be doing that?"

The clincher was when my neighbor Don drove slowly past, rolled down his window and called out "Scoopin'?" (I can't lie, I immediately thought of my gawking co-workers. Yes! For frick's sake I am scooping dog shit!")

I grabbed my phone and texted what I'd wanted to from the outset: Don't u people have anything better 2 do??

I got seven "nos" and one "your pajamas complete me."

I guess at the very least, if you're going to be watched, it might as well be by crazy people who love you.

I think?

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