Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Business of Others

Because the park is no longer our own, having been invaded by innumerable children clad in the most garish of colors, their shirts emblazoned with names and numbers, and their parents, who leer and refuse to get out of the way when Duncan and I pass them on the sidewalks, we decided to stroll down Leawood to the school at the bottom of the hill. It's a nice neighborhood and each time I'm there, especially early in the morning, my heart breaks at the realization that Ken and I were so misguided in our attempt to own a home at Stapleton, one of the most sterile and homogeneous of Denver's neighborhoods. Leawood is an old neighborhood, with lots of big trees––which Stapleton lacked entirely––and houses that look well-lived in and loved, not the cookie cutter nouveau-retro styles of our former area, which was built on the razed property of Denver's former airport. The truth of the matter is, we got caught up in the prospect of living in a new and popular neighborhood when we should have been looking for something more our style, with a big yard for the dog, a quiet street and lots and lots of trees. Leawood is exactly that neighborhood, and it reminds me a great deal––especially when the sun is still low in the eastern sky and the smell of bacon drifts out through the open windows––of the block on which I grew up.

This morning I figured we'd walk down the shady sidewalks where the lavender grows wild in the front yards, play on the school grounds where I could take Duncan off-leash and throw his ball, let him explore the edge of the fences which border the pastures where the horses roam, and perhaps climb on the jungle gym, all without the bother of the soccer hoards and their wretched parents who scowl at me whenever Duncan tends to business.

We'd barely gone more than a few blocks, stopping every now and then to admire the gardens, watch the honey bees frolic amid the lavender bushes, which grow nearly as tall as me, when Duncan stopped to pee. I've always felt rather strange about him peeing in other people's yards, usually against a fence post or even at the foot of their mailboxes, but nothing prepared me for what happened this morning. We were standing near what must've been a spectacular wall of lilacs earlier in the spring, me milling around while Duncan sniffed out the ideal place to drop someone a line or leave a message, when, just as he was about to raise his leg, two men, quite possibly in their early 70's and clad from in golfing attire stepped out of the lilac hedge, both of them buttoning up their trousers.

"Hey," the taller of the two called to me and shuffled to my side, leaving his smaller and more jovial-faced friend behind. Duncan was still propped up on three legs, watching them but nothing else as though curious to see where this would lead before he spilled a drop. "I see your dog is about to mark some territory," the man said, dropping a weathered hand on my shoulder.

"I think so," I told him and smiled.

"Well you know," he said, squeezing my shoulder as though we were old friends, his words bleeding together to form a single word, wellyaknow. "I know they like to pee where someone else has already marked. Is that right?"

"It certainly is," I offered.

"Well you know," he said again and his friend smiled behind him as if he'd spent a lifetime listening to him start every sentence the same way. "If he's looking for a place with a lot of piss you just point him right through that hedge. We just left plenty there for him." With that they both burst into laughter and shuffled on their way. Duncan dropped his airborne leg and looked at me as if waiting for a cue as to our next move. I could only shrug my shoulders and pull him along, right past the spot, which I'm sure, inflamed his nostrils.


parkandbarkawhile said...

I love your new design. What an odd experience with those two fellas.

Sue said...

Wow! I'm not even sure what to say about that! Um...interesting to say the least...and I think I'm glad that you stumbled across them rather than me...

dad worries.... said...

You let the old letch TOUCH you? Yikes. You be careful of where you, walk, y'here?

Greg said...

Ha ha, oh, talk about your WTF moments. I'm not sure if that's weird or creepy, but whatever else it is, it's a little funny.

So, the two old coots were out marking territory, huh? Does this change your feeling about the neighborhood? I love that even Dunc stopped to hear the guy out.

Lori said...

That's just too bizarre! Uncomfortable.

Like the new design. And thanks for putting Carbon Leaf's "Let Your Troubles Roll By" on your widget. I needed to hear that this morning.