Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fecal Fretting

A Thousand Clowns
Yesterday morning I noticed a big pile of dog shit in front of the driver’s side door of my car.  It made me so angry, I almost yelled “Whoever let their dog shit in front of my house needs to clean it up right now!”

In case you were unaware of the origin of the background image of this blog, it’s a photo still of Jason Robards from my favorite movie A Thousand Clowns.  His character in the film is totally bemused and hilarious (in the way that many people’s hilarity is fueled by an acute dissatisfaction).  In the movie, he yells something every morning when he’s walking down the street, like “Neighbors, I want to see you out on the street for volleyball in ten minutes!”  That must be where I got the idea to yell out a message to all the houses in the neighborhood, but I am glad I didn’t act on my impulse.

But who did let their dog shit near my car like that?  I felt so much anger and also shame for not having a picture-perfect house like some of them on our street.  We have this completely unprovoked feud from some fairly new neighbors, and I was/am convinced that the poo was on purpose, from their dog.  Once when we were eating dinner, we saw the male half of our hostile neighbor couple walk his dog to our house, pause a minute, and walk back up the hill to his own house.

The thing is

1:  Our neighborhood is lousy with stray dogs.  There are so many strays they have their own way of life; I have seen more than one dog stand on the curb, wait for a car to pass, then cross at the cross walk.  It could have easily been a stray whose poo it was.

2:  I sort of like poo, in theory if not in practice.  It’s gross, funny and taboo.  I even wrote a 20 page paper in grad school about all the often perversely sexual references to shit in Dante’s Inferno.  If this topic seems like a stretch, let me assure you that I had A LOT of material to work with. 

I was so upset about this dog shit because I’m already so anxious and high strung.  When I felt myself wanting to call out my neighbors by yelling at the top of my lungs (and I leave the house at 6:15 am so I would have been waking a lot of neighbors up), I felt sort of sorry for myself.  I wish I could be a guileless child again, suggesting to my dad that I scoop up the shit for $1, happy to have money and the stomach to do something gross.  Or else, I wish I wasn’t stuck on my hometown, L.A., and could just be some kind of artist out in Iowa or Minnesota, or live in the New York City that’s depicted in Curious George cartoons, where everyone understands what George is saying, even though it’s gibberish, and there are Samba groups playing at opening nights of exciting exhibits at the natural history museum. 

Even if the shit didn’t come from the neighbors’ dog, I am very distressed by the animosity between our two families.  I speculate on it, thinking that they don’t like us because we have a kid, or that’s my car is too ugly, or that we don’t have a little built-in deck on which to store our trash bins, or even that our Calla lilies in the front of the house look dead-ish sometimes, or that I’m not physically fit, like he is (Armani Exchange called, they want their mannequin’s outfit back, jackass).

I just want to be able to laugh at dog shit again.

Dante's Inferno

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