Thursday, May 2, 2019

Out to pasture

     Tuesday is garbage day in the old leafy suburban paradise. Which makes Tuesday a better day to walk the dog, because people roll their big sturdy green garbage cans to the curb, affording me a range of disposal options after Kitty has done her business. No need for carrying the blue New York Times bag with its load of doo, not for long, not on Tuesdays. Detour a few steps over to a can, a tad guiltily, lift the top and flip the bag inside.
     I don't know why I feel guilty—it isn't as if the homeowner will mind, me using their can for such a purpose. Or maybe they would. Of course they would. We can be very jealous of our prerogatives, we suburbanites, and I can imagine some homemaker gazing worriedly out her window. "That disheveled man, the one with the limp who is always walking that ratty little dog. He just came by and used our garbage can!"  
     The police have been notified for less. 
      Anyway, this Tuesday, turning down Greenbriar, I noticed this surprising sight. A stuffed white unicorn, corralled in a little pink stall, set out very deliberately on the curb.  The mythical beast just seems out of place—it almost looks photo-shopped above, doesn't it? The square of fuchsia against the green and beige? Believe me, it was very real.
      I try not to anthropomorphize objects. But it seemed a little sad, this equine playmate put  out to pasture while still generally bright and pink and new. Maybe they're hoping someone adopts the beast—it wasn't in the can, after all, where it could have been jammed. Maybe circumstances changed—they grow up fast, kids nowadays. 
     Still, I couldn't help but detect a little sorrow, about the eyes, of the unicorn. It looks dejected, does it not? As if gazing inward, a little stunned, to find itself in that position. A trick of the eye, I am sure. And there is enough real sorrow in the world without ginning up imaginary suffering. That said, I hope somebody rescued it—her?—before the garbage truck rumbled past. Not likely, not in a swank place like Northbrook. No second hand toys for our darlings. A pity. I'm sure there are kids across the city who would have welcomed her with open arms, if only she could have found her way to them.


  1. it gives me a sense of joy to imagine you walking around carrying a steeping bag of feces every god damn day. not just a few feet to the trash, but all the way down your alleyless block.

    1. What is wrong with you?

    2. Many things I'm sure. but I don't walk an animal down the street and Let It crap on somebody else's grass where their kids play. I don't understand dog owners it's your dog let it crap in your yard in piss in your yard before you walk it and then pick it up off your grass leaving the residues behind. Don't take it down the street and Let It crap somewhere else. At least mr. Steinberg picks it up. A lot of people just leave it and keep on walking. It's especially irking the people that take their dogs to the park. You know where children play and let the dog piss and crap on the field where people play soccer or baseball or just roll around having a good time. In the dog residue. I like dogs they're nice I don't need one EVERYBODY else has one.
      there's people all over the world that don't have enough to eat but you're feeding a dog. There's people right here in America that are food insecure. Many of them are children. What's wrong with me?

    3. I don't have a dog, but I know that you can't schedule their waste elimination; they go when they feel like going. And your point about feeding a dog vs feeding starving children is, of course, a false dichotomy. One can do both. I'm as confident that many dog owners make charitable contributions as I am that you're not donating all of your discretionary income to feed hungry children.

      I'm with you on the people who don't clean up after their dogs. But the odds of a child getting sick from a dog's leavings are...not high.

    4. the dog doesn't choose where it goes , the owner does. train the animal to go on your property. and Coey as far as doing both goes: This year alone, pet spending in the U.S. is estimated to exceed $72 billion, which is more than the combined GDP of the 39 poorest countries in the world. yes you can do both but we don't.

    5. Charitable giving in the U.S. exceeds $400 billion.

  2. Out here where I live the thing would have disappeared before dawn, plucked up by one of the many scavengers who drive around during the afternoon and night preceding trash day. Then it would have ended up at one of the big flea markets looking even more forlorn, if that's possible. But I'd like to imagine a happy ending to this story when a hard-working immigrant laborer shells out a few bucks for it, throws it into his pickup and takes it home to his little girl. The smile on her face when she see's it lights up the whole room, and maybe the unicorn doesn't look quite so sad.

  3. I seem to remember the unicorn as a mythical beast figured in one of Thurber's fables. About the war between men and women.


  4. As long as you tie up the bag securely, so Kitty's leavings don't get smeared all over the inside of someone's can as it's being emptied, I can't imagine anyone would mind.

    As for the unicorn, maybe it's just sad because it's in such a tiny stall.

  5. Perhaps it is a Watch Unicorn, on sentinel against dog walkers disposing of their dirty burdens. I pass a row of plastic newspaper dispensers, occasionally grabbing coupon books from one, until the day someone deposited their little surprise bag atop the two for the price of one ice cream chits. Guess I don't really need the calories anyway.

  6. In Cleveland,somebody would rescue it—her?—long before the garbage trucks showed up. Cleveland is not Northbrook. I have had stuff disappear five minutes after I put it out. A coffee-table made from old glass cabinet doors was gone in fifteen minutes, even with one of the glass panes missing. This neighborhood is not swanky. It was originally an independent town, and still looks like the inner-ring suburb it once was, but it was annexed by the city almost a century ago. People here will gladly scrounge (or buy) second-hand toys for their wee ones, who are glad to get them and probably don't know the difference. I'd have suggested grabbing it and donating it to the nearest Habitat For Humanity ReStore, but a lot of them no longer want any kid stuff.

    As for dumping dog crap in someone else's trash, I get royally pissed whenever I find it. It simmers in the summer and festers in the fall--and really stinks up the can. I move my cans closer to the back porch in the snowy months. There are many dog walkers here, and there are eight dogs nearby, which means a lot of bark-offs on summer evenings. My driveway is short, so it's easy for passersby to deposit the poop in my trash can. I have commercially-made signs that read "Don't let your dog dump here!" and "Poop is not fertilizer!" for the lawns and the fences, but I'm thinking of getting a sign for my trash cans, because too many folks will just pick up the pieces (uh-huh) with only a tissue or a paper towel, and toss THAT into the can...a disgusting thing to find, and not fun to try to dispose of, especially on a hot day.

    I love your blog and your column, Mr. S. You are one of my favorite wordsmiths. But if I saw you flipping your bag into my trash can, you'd catch some hell. Your dog, your poop, your house. Bag it and take it home. Some dog owners really irk me. I've been known to pick it up...bare-handed...and throw it back, like the Wrigley Field bleacher fan I used to be.

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  8. The best one I ever had was a wordless one, years ago. It was white with the black silhouette of a squatting dog, and it even showed little pellets of poop, as well. There was a red circle around all that, and a red diagonal slash...the international symbol for the word "NO!" Great sign...but it, too, was stolen in a matter of days. Looked for another just like it, but I never found one.


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