There is a new chore in our house. It is called, “poop patrol.” So far I am the only person to have completed this job. Everyone else is simply pretending it doesn’t exist despite my announcing my intentions in a very audible voice when I exit the house to attend to it. Poop patrol consists of going out to the backyard with a corn-based biodegradable bag, and collecting puppy droppings. We don’t want the excrement to accumulate back there, and using one bag to collect many samples keeps our family from contributing too much to the doggy waste bags accumulating in landfills. Alas, on the most distasteful of occasions, this chore even involves the hose.
This job is most unpleasant, so I recognize why my family is turning a deaf ear to my not-so-subtle hints. My intimations notwithstanding, they prefer not to have to perform a disagreeable task that involves feces.
I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised considering that other such distasteful chores are mostly carried out by me. Those include cleaning the toilet, scrubbing the shower, picking hair out of the drain, rescuing earth worms after a rainstorm, waiting for the cable repairman, cleaning the birds’ cage, hosing out the garbage can, and disposing of anything that is rotten in the fridge.
In my children’s defense, I must say that I wasn’t always so willing to perform disgusting jobs. One week many summers ago, I had the responsibility of caring for my neighbors’ pets when they were on vacation. On the third or fourth day, I convinced my sister, who is younger by seven and a half years, to accompany me to their house to feed the hamsters and the cat. She immediately noticed a can of dog food covered with plastic wrap on the counter. Why it had gone overlooked by me on previous visits, I cannot tell you, except that I was a kid. The counter was about eye level for her, so she was more likely to notice the unattended can of canine chow. (To this day, she is very perceptive and detail-oriented, by the way.) When my sister and I more closely observed what I presumed was the plastic wrap glistening, something wriggled. In fact, there were many hundreds of maggots writhing inside the transparent film and the can it covered, and they began to drop off as I picked it up. The smell was overwhelmingly that of putrefying waste, and my reaction was to scream and run from the house straight to my mother next door. She came right back over with us, most likely imagining that something really ghastly had happened during my neighbors’ absence, like the roof had leaked, a fire had started, or an animal had gained entrance and was terrorizing us and destroying their belongings. Maybe all three, given our piteous pleas for her help.
When my mother arrived on the scene, she carefully noted the “carnage,” and said, “You brought me over here for this? You must be kidding me.” But the container was repulsive to the extreme. Surely, she didn’t expect me to handle such a cursed object straight from hell. (My enlightened adolescent self appreciated, at the very least, that I shouldn’t leave it to marinate for three more days for the neighbors to discover.) Despite my explanations of why I didn’t know how to clean it (translation, did not know and didn’t want to find out), a few short minutes later, I was dropping the can and its inhabitants into a paper bag and then wiping up the maggots that had been scattered by my startled initial reaction. My mother returned from our house next door, with some Pine-Sol® and instructed me to disinfect the entire area. Unfairly, in my mind anyway, she did not expect my five-year-old sister to help.
I imagine that my adolescent brain and time have exaggerated how truly revolting that discovery was. Nonetheless, nothing has compared since, not squashed bugs, biological specimens, dirty diapers, or puppy vomit (See “Our Trip to Connecticut and An Evil Fungus”). Compared to that can of Hades-spawned creatures from my youth, picking up after Ginger isn’t really so bad.