Sunday, October 28, 2007

Brushed and Boxed

At times it seems–especially on Sunday afternoons–that my job in the park is more than just The Walker of Duncan; sometimes–quite often, actually–I also assume the role of trash collector, picking up after all the morons who gather to watch the kids play soccer and football, or the thugs who inhabit the skate park who can't be bothered to toss their cans of Red Bull or beer into the garbage bins which the city of Littleton has been kind enough to supply in plenty. The grounds of the park are quite littered Sunday afternoons, and being the sort of person who enjoys a clean park, and does not like seeing his dog root around in fast food wrappers or attempt to gnaw discarded water bottles, I do the right thing by picking them up and tossing them away.

This Sunday Duncan and I came to the park, not only for our walk, but to toss out a rather large accumulation of hair we collected over the weekend. I awoke Saturday morning and decided Duncan was in need of a rather lengthy brushing, and by the time I finished nearly two hours later, we'd amassed a wiggish-looking thing the size and shape of a small dog. I've heard of a woman in the area who spins her own yarn out of dog hair and wondered, briefly, if perhaps she could put it to good use, but then realized if I did such a thing I'd find myself holding onto a rather large bag of hair months from now. Instead I decided to do what we've done for years, which is gather it up and take it outside to toss here and there for the birds and squirrels to use for their nests.

It was with this mission in mind that we set off. The park was mostly deserted, except for the refuse which had been left behind from this morning's various athletic events. In one hand I carried a hair-laden bag which I dipped into every now and then and spread on the ground around me and which was quickly dispersed by a nice warm breeze. My other hand was occupied with the task of collecting bottles, wrappers and the occasional sock, which were all tossed away. By the time my supply of hair ran dry we found ourselves quite near the high school, and still smarting from last week's adventure, we made to cross Bowles and enter, once again, the inescapable neighborhood. Just as we were about to do this, however, I spotted, on the ground, not ten feet from the parking lot, a large, but empty box of Trojans. I scooped it up, threw it away and crossed the street.

Our walk down Fair Street was pleasant and uneventful. We turned onto Marshall which somehow becomes Lamar, which deposited us onto Leawood, not far from the school. We turned west, headed back up the hill and came out on the corner of Bowles and Pierce, directly across from the entrance to our apartment building. As we once again cut across the park and prepared to return home I glanced down and discovered a second, completely full black and gold box of Trojans, Magnum XL. I scooped it up, and not having a garbage can nearby, put it into my pocket until I could toss it in the trash at home. We crossed the street, and because the afternoon was still so lovely, decided to venture into The Glen for a last romp in the leaves and setting sun.

I'd forgotten to bring Duncan's stick or his ball, so we milled around until Kona appeared out of nowhere and commenced to wrestle with Duncan amid the brown leafy debris that fills the bottom of natural indentation in which we stood. Melissa, Kona's mom, soon joined us, and while the kids wrestled and chased and rolled around, spraying fountains of froth and foam and wet leaf in every direction, Melissa and I chatted amiably. When we discovered she once worked with my friend Sarah, who's husband I work with at ACC, we hit it right off and soon lost track of what the pups were up to. Before we knew it the sun had set, the air had turned cold and the dogs continued to run insane circles around the perimeter of The Glen, occasionally speeding across the bowl, crashing past us and back up the other side.

"So, what do you have planned tonight?" Melissa asked.

I shrugged. "I'm not sure, My partner is down in The Springs tonight, so I'll probably just lay low." This I said in a way that somehow sounded as if I don't lay low every night. "You know, make dinner, maybe watch a movie. Stay in."

She nodded knowingly and at that second I heard an explosion behind me and turned in time to see Duncan careening wildly down the hill, Kona hot on his heels, both of them on a collision course with me. I grunted once, a sort of "Umph" noise and turned to Melissa just as they struck.

Duncan caught me straight on. I felt my feet fly out from under me, felt myself spread out in the air, long and flat but open wide. I looked down at my chest and actually saw my feet rise up higher than my body. My shoulders did a strange little wiggle as my arms shot out and my hands reached behind me for the ground that was not there. My brain, in an effort to rationalize the experience actually played the sound of a solid strike echoing down the lanes of a bowling alley and I felt as though a bowling pin must when it's knocked crazy by the ball. Melissa, somewhere below me, cried out, and as gravity finally caught me and pulled me back down, I saw her standing between my splayed out feet, my toes just about even with her shoulders. The closer I came to earth, the faster time moved and suddenly I was down, with a crash and another "Umph," this one louder and a bit more forceful.

Duncan froze and cowered, his head low as if he actually had anything to fear. Kona, however, couldn't have been more delighted. She jumped right over me, and as I sat up, she leaned in, sniffed me once and head-butted me right on the middle of my face. Melissa could not help but laugh, although I will give her credit for making the attempt to appear concerned as I climbed to my feet, brushing the leaves from my legs and arms.

"Are you okay," she asked.

"I'm fine," I said, laughing it off.

"Oh," she said, reaching down. "You dropped someth--" and froze.

At my feet was the open box of Trojans, with a seeming endless parade of foil-wrapped condoms spilling out onto the leaves.

Duncan looked up at me, a half amused, half pitiful look on his face. Kona snorted and walked away, satisfied that she'd head-butted me. Melissa did not know what to say.

I played with the possibilities and finally decided that silence was indeed golden.


Ruth said...


At least they were XLs and not the Magnum Minis.

kevi said...

Of all the entries, this is the one I choose to read while my students quietly work. TOO funny!

I truly believe there is someone out there who blogged about a dude who was carrying a bag of hair and scored a used box of new condoms.