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Urban vs. rural: Judge and Juror

What’s in YOUR Bag?

I want to open with the disclaimer that this is going to be a good one. I haven’t even written it yet, but I’ve just got this feeling. So, promise me you’ll keep reading until you just can’t stand it anymore. Okay?

I mean, there’s just so much to write about these days. And I’m not even going to mention the GOP primary. (Or am I?) Talk about entertainment! It’s like a hybrid comedy/slasher movie. It’s all really funny, but at the same time incredibly horrifying. You can laugh at their hilarious antics, and then you wonder, “But what if...”

My advice to everyone is DON’T SPLIT UP and DON’T GO DOWN INTO THE BASEMENT!

And what if we elected Bernie? He’s so damn cute! When was the last time we had a president you just wanted to hug? Plus universal healthcare and free college tuition. I’m liking this a lot!

But seriously, Hillary is going to make an excellent president.

When I said there’s so much to write about, what with global warming and the ISIS crisis and the GOP primary, what I really meant was that I have another dog poop story. I know the last poop story I wrote didn’t turn out so well, with hurt feelings and me getting into a lot of trouble.

I kind of stepped in it with that one. So I promise, this one is probably not going to turn out any differently.

This poop story came to my attention just the other day when this lady walked into my clinic.

She walks into my clinic, sits down at the bar, and asks the bartender:

“Got any grapes?”

No, not really. But it’s close to Halloween, so I gotta tell you this one:

A skeleton walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’d like a beer and a mop.”

But anyway, this lady walks into my clinic and starts telling me how hilarious my columns are and that I’m probably the funniest man on, like, this side of the street or something. And people are always thinking that if you’re funny on paper you’ve got to be even funnier in person, and I like to support that myth with brilliant and engaging repartee, so I blushed deeply and stared at my shoes and said, “Aw, shucks, ma’am.”

Once I’d regained my composure I asked her to please sit down. I was concerned. While she appeared perfectly normal, her belief in the quality and quantity of my humor was evidence of delusional thinking, and perhaps an acute psychosis. I’m about to ask if the voices in her head are telling her to hurt someone, but she interrupts.

“I’m not here to spend money. I’m here because I have a great idea for your next column!”

Okay, so I have to admit I was a little disappointed about the money thing, and to be perfectly honest, if you’re going to try pitching me a story idea, a little money isn’t a bad thing. But I’m a native Oregonian, so I smiled pleasantly and prepared to have my time wasted.

Boy, was I glad I listened!

This woman gave me her real name and phone number, but to protect her identity I’ve made up a different name. I call her Martha Marfarfathalfathorp, phone number 541-368-57. When it comes to dog poop stories, hers takes the cake.

I’ve been walking our dog since we got the damn thing about three years ago. It’s a nuisance how they need to go out EVERY SINGLE DAY. I generally do the morning shift, which means getting up an hour earlier than I’d like so I can do the deed under the cover of darkness. I do this because it’s not just unpleasant but embarrassing to be seen standing tied to a dog that is taking a crap. He always waits until he hears a car coming, and you know that the people in the car know that you’re not fooling anyone pretending not to notice what your dog is doing. And then you have to pick it up.

And for the record, I ALWAYS PICK IT UP. ALWAYS. I use the special plastic bags that the city provides at places where people often walk their dogs. I do it because I’m a responsible father, and I’ve been picking up poop ever since our son promised to do all the work of taking care of his new dog.

What I’m saying here is that I often walk the dog where others walk their dogs, and I use plastic bags to pick up a lot of poop that I’d rather not have to pick up. And for about the last year or so, I’ve been noticing a rather disturbing phenomenon: roaming packs of feral bags of poop.

Now we all know about Urban Legends, like razor blades in Halloween apples and waking up in a bathtub full of ice cubes with your kidneys missing. But living in a small town has always made me feel a little left out. I kind of wonder, where are all the RURAL Legends?

I wondered this aloud at breakfast this morning, and this is one of the reasons it is so wonderful to have a family that eats breakfast together. I wondered this aloud, and within minutes we had verified that methamphetamines were first developed in the early 1900s by an underemployed pharmacist and a scheming chicken farmer in western Alabama. The meth was mixed into the chickens’ food to keep them awake so that they would produce more eggs in less time. An unexpected side effect was that the resulting eggs contained a nearly undetectable amount of a potent metabolite of meth which caused a small but noticeable stimulant effect on the consumer.

This, of course, made the farmer’s eggs very popular as a breakfast food, and soon the entire egg-producing industry was using meth to increase both production and consumer demand. Then humans started abusing meth and it became illegal, so the industry was forced to remove all mention of meth from the labels of chicken food. As a code, the industry now uses the term, “Chicken FeedTM,” to indicate chicken food containing methamphetamines.

This is also why people tend to eat eggs only at breakfast. They think it’s the coffee, but it’s the eggs. And if you don’t believe me, look it up on the internet. The proof is that you won’t find anything, because all the information is blocked by a government conspiracy to protect the profits of the egg-producing industry, which makes enormous contributions to PACs.

You may wonder what this has to do with roaming packs of feral bags of poop. Well, good for you!

Here’s Hood River’s own Rural Legend: Type 3 dog owners.

Legend has it there are three types of dog owners. Type 1 (the good guys) always pick up their dogs’ poop. Type 2 (the bad guys) NEVER pick up their dogs’ poop. Type 3 (the arrogant, stuck-up so-and-so’s) scoop their dogs’ poop into plastic bags, then LEAVE THEM ON THE GROUND FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO PICK UP. The legend is that there is an entire subset of dog owners that somehow feel it is virtuous enough to simply put it in a bag, but simply too far beneath them to actually carry it to a garbage receptacle. Someone else can do that, perhaps someone who earns a little less than they do...

For the past year or so I’ve been seeing these packs of feral poop bags. I remember once counting seven of them along the west side of 18th Street. I counted an even dozen one morning as I dragged our dog along the lower portion of the Indian Creek Trail. As I’m counting I’m wondering what kind of insensitive bastard would do such a thing, and why don’t they feed their pet a better quality dog food?

Then into my clinic walks Marfa Mafarfalopalus, Myth Buster of Rural Legend!

She explains that there is no Type 3 dog owner, just dear, sweet Marfarfa. She walks her dog for exercise, and she is concerned that E. coli from dog poop is contaminating our rivers and streams. She’s worried about the health of our children. She’s read that E. coli even gets into the air when the poop dries out and the wind blows. It comes into our homes on the bottom of our feet, is spread about by the rollers on our vacuum cleaners, and eventually climbs between the sheets of our beds. We are sleeping in dog poop, she explains to me. So when she walks her dog she brings extra bags, and as she stumbles across the evidence of a recent Type 2 owner, she stops and scoops.

She is like Mother Theresa, only a little more down to earth...

Unfortunately, she’s learned from experience that she can’t carry it all with her. She’s only got two hands and there’s just too much poop out there! So she leaves the bags on the ground, knowing that at least the poop is protected from erosion and desiccation by the bag she’s put it in.

She comes to me with her story, concerned about her reputation. She has been vilified by the media, cursed by passing strangers, all because people don’t understand! She’s picking up OTHER PEOPLE’S dog poop!

So with that mystery solved, I’m wondering about another. I’ve noticed that always after a day or two, the packs of feral dog poop bags disappear. Marfalfa says she doesn’t pick them up.

So who does?

I sense the birth of another Rural Legend...

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