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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Right Thing, Oh So Wrong

I always try to do the right thing. I think it stems from something my father used to say when I was young. “Son,” he’d say, “always try to do the right thing.

We’re sort of a literal family. Not a lot of lines to read between.

The problem is, Dad never told me what the right thing actually is. Not in all of his years.

Well, his years so far, anyway. I guess I could always call him and ask. But we’re not much of a telephoning family, either.

So I’ve been left to define the “right thing” on my own. I’ve decided it means the thing that takes the least possible effort, yet still allows me to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

Or with a stiff dose of NyQuil. Whichever’s easier.

So I always try to do the right thing, as I’ve defined it for myself. But even with my ridiculously simple and self-serving rule, it’s not always possible.

Take this morning, for instance. I was walking the dog to the car, so I could drop her off at ‘doggy day care’ on my way to work.

(Because that’s what my life has turned into, apparently.

And people wonder why I mangle the shit out of common sense and morality to make my life easier. You people are lucky I bother to wear pants out of the house every morning.)

“I’ve got pretty goddamned lax rules, but flinging dog turds around the neighborhood like a bunch of rancid chocolate confetti and then gaily skipping away from the scene is just not an option.”

As I said, this is expressly a “walk to the car”. I’ve discussed it with the dog, on several occasions. We’re not out for a morning constitutional, nor is this her daily evening bathroom trip, where she’s allowed — even encouraged — to befoul shrubs and flowers and rusty fire hydrants up and down the neighborhood. No. This is a walk to the car, so I can foist her off on someone else to slobber on for a few hours and get on with the rest of my personal nightmare. There’s to be no snurfling, no pulling, no butt sniffing or squirrel chasing. No excessive wagging. No panting at frisky poodles. And under NO circumstances is there to be pooping. We’ve been over this. I’ve showed her the PowerPoints, more than once. NO. POOPING.

So we walk out the door this morning. And she poops. Naturally.

Now, I can’t just leave the poop there, littering the sidewalk. I’ve got pretty goddamned lax rules, but flinging dog turds around the neighborhood like a bunch of rancid chocolate confetti and then gaily skipping away from the scene is just not an option. For one thing, I don’t skip. I look like an ostrich with Parkinson’s when I skip. More importantly, I would feel really bad if I let the dog spew poop on the street and didn’t pick it up. That whole ‘sleeping at night’ clause is a real pain in the ass sometimes.

So I always carry an emergency bag. Even on “walk to the car” trips, which come — I can’t stress this enough — with a clear and legally-binding NO POOPING rider attached. The dog is in deep shit if I ever find a good lawyer.

In the meantime, I’m knee-deep in the brown stuff myself. Literally.

Anyway, she shat. And I used my emergency bag to pick up the offending dung, as per my “do the right thing” rule. It was at that point that the “right thing” became a little more… fuzzy.

See, the closest trash can to dispose of the baggied scat was two blocks away. And I was already late for a meeting or flogging or some other public humiliation at the office. Also, there’s the “least possible effort” part of my rule, which never involves schlepping two stupid blocks to drop a bag of turds into anything. Ever. I considered my options.

One, I could just drop the bag, secure in the knowledge that at least the crap wouldn’t end up on some unsuspecting neighborhood shoe. But I’ve got a thing against littering, too, so that was no good. Even with two shots of NyQuil and a bop on the head, that would still keep me awake at night.

Two, my car’s parked in a lot between two brownstones. I could always carry the bag over there, reach way down low, and fliiiiing the bag up onto one of the roofs. My idea of “littering” — hallelujah, lax personal rules of proper conduct — only applies to dropping garbage on the ground. Some schmuck’s rooftop, a block away from mine? Not a moral issue. I could sleep like a baby.

(Oh, don’t judge. Let ye who has never tossed a terrier turd cast the first baggie.)

Still, my flinging arm’s not what it once was. I’m not entirely positive I’d make it to the roof on the first try. Also, someone could see me, and that would be a tough explanation to sell, under any circumstances. And if things went really badly, there’s a fair chance I’d throw the bag up in the air and it would smack me in the head on the way down. And turd-bombing myself from fifty feet is not the way I like to start a workday morning, thanks.

I’d much prefer to let one of my many bosses have the honor.

So, I chose door number three as the “rightest thing” of the available options. I opened the trunk, threw the bag full of turds in, opened the back door, threw the dog empty of turds in, shut both, got in the driver’s seat, and drove away. I figured I’d drop the poop bag off in a trash can when I got the dog out, and that would be, under the circumstances, the “right thing” to do.

Which is probably was. Only that’s not what I did.

What I did was race to the doggy day care place, focused on how late I was. I hustled the dog out of the car and into the place, and then revved it over to work to make my waterboarding meeting, or whatever. And in doing so, completely forgot about the festering bag of funk percolating in the trunk.

I worked for nine hours. Nine hard, long, grueling hours, and all I wanted when I escaped back to my car was to retrieve the mutt and order a pizza. Until I sat in the driver’s seat again. Then, all I wanted was a hurl bag, six thousand pine tree air fresheners on the rearview, and a time machine so I could go back nine hours and change and either kick myself in the stupid forgetful ass or SuperGlue the dog’s stinky hole shut to prevent the whole mess from happening in the first place.

But no. I had none of those things. All I had was the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — please, god, tell me I’m only going to do this once — to drive twelve blocks in the rain with four windows and the moonroof open, until the car began to marginally smell like something other than a water buffalo stable at a manure convention.

Which was, as it turns out, a WET water buffalo stable at a manure convention. Not so much an improvement.

Finally, I got back to the dog place and remembered — this time, because how could I not? — finally to toss the morning’s bag of waste in a trash bin. Exhausted, haunted and way less hungry, I picked up the dog and pulled her back outside toward the car.

Where she shat. Again. And I’d already used my emergency bag.

Screw it, I said. I kicked the turds into the street, pulled the car out, and ran over them repeatedly until they were unrecognizable as animal waste. For all anyone knows, there are two little brown pieces of paper or maybe far-expired Kit-Kat bars flattened in the street there. And now there’s dog plop all over my tires — but how the hell would I smell that, with the putrid stench of hound-ass hell still emanating from the trunk?

Maybe it wasn’t the most elegant choice, or one of which I’m especially proud. But in the moment, with things as they were, it just seemed like the “right thing to do“. And assuming I can get the odor of dog crap out of my nostrils by bedtime, I’m going to sleep like a baby. No NyQuil needed. Not tonight.

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