Bear with me please.
Throughout this post, I will be referring to people - people whom I don’t even know - as “The Douchebags”.
Perhaps that’s cruel, I don’t know. So I’d like to take a poll:
Are my neighbors douchebags?
We live in a neighborhood with homes dating to the 1920’s. There are small, single-family frame houses, some tidy, many sagging and appearing to be near the end of their lives. There are many two-story brick duplexes, and a few big four-plexes, and these too run the gamut from well cared for to fading fast. The entire block seems to be rental housing, with a couple newer duplexes from the seventies or eighties thrown in.
Cloudy House itself is a towering brick duplex, one which Mrs. Cloudy and I are slowly converting into one large house - it was the cheapest way to get a lot of square feet, as we both work from home. So, one weekend at a time, the house slowly gets remodeled.
When we purchased the house, it was sandwiched between two tiny rent houses, one being remodeled, the other seeming ready to collapse into itself. The latter was torn down and a large structure was built - a pair of condos, one front and one rear, in the hot new “McMansion” style. You may know the type- impressive brick and stone facade (if you don’t take note of the apartment-quality aluminum-framed windows), with the sides & back comprised of painted cement-board siding that looks like something you’d build a bait shack from (apparently, curb-appeal trumps all in this style). Inside you get soaring ceilings, granite counters, room for a sweet plasma over the fireplace - along with thin plywood “wainscotting”, MDF moldings, and the cheapest Home Depot “builder” quality cabinets available.
The builder was asking a ridiculous amount for each unit - $380k a pop was the figure he told me - and they sat vacant for months, until one weekend, both units were occupied. We figured they’d leased ‘em out to cut their losses.
Anyway - my first sight of potential douchebaggery came one morning as I drove my daughter to school. I noticed that, tied to the phone pole in front of the condo, was a big, pretty retriever of some kind. Light blonde, short hair, about 60 pounds. Someone had tied its leash around the pole, giving the poor thing about two feet of wiggle room. I made a mental note to call animal control if it was there when I returned.
Thirty minutes later, I was back, and the dog was still there - but someone was untangling it from its leash. A blonde girl, maybe late twenties, wearing a short black overcoat, was wrestling with the leash. She kept bending over and flashing white panties, making me think she’d gotten out of bed, thrown on a jacket, and tied the dog up as opposed to actually walking it.
Within minutes, the dog was again wrapped around the phone pole to the point he was about pinned to the thing. By the time I’d poured some coffee and looked outside, she was bringing him in.
For the next couple weeks, the dog could be found tethered to a stake in the ground, barking at pedestrians and dog-walkers from the front yard. Eventually, the stake and tether was abandoned. Now, when the dog needed to go, the front door was opened and he was allowed to roam free.
And roam he did. He aggressively backed Mrs. Cloudy onto our porch or into her car. His range extended, across the street, two, three, four, six houses each way. Returning from car pool, it wasn’t unusual to see him, paws on a trash dumpster, chicken bones in his mouth, trash scattered everywhere. He chased off walkers, joggers, people actually walking their dogs with leashes and poop bags.
And speaking of poop - he was a champion pooper, and our front yard was his canvas, his master work. Great piles of stinking fresh poop, amid the giant sun-dried turds.
That went on for a while. Hear the barking. Look outside. Watch a pissed-off neighbor, dressed for work, rushing away with her own dg on a leash as douche-dog chased her off. Hear the shouting, the swearing. I could hear it loud and clear - but nobody bothered to even peek out the open front door of Douchebag Arms. Watch the crouching douche-dog drop another load on our lawn.
Finally, Mrs. Cloudy knocked upon the douche-door to inquire about the piles of poop in our yard. A thirty-forty-something guy answered, in his button-down shirt and dockers. As the dog barked frantically, The Mrs. asked if they could please keep their dog off the lawn and grounds that Mrs. Cloudy does so much enjoy tending.
Mr. Douce muttered something, then pointed to the street, where an eighties-era Ford Mustang - one that had seen its share of door dings and fender benders - sat. We’d seen its owner, a guy who lived across the street in a rental. The rental houses ’round here have limited parking - get three or four guys sharing a space, and the street can get full.
“Do you know whose car that is?” He asked my wife. She said she didn’t know the owner, but believed he lived across the street.
“I gotta talk to him.” he replied. “I don’t like that crappy car in front of my house”.
Myself, I would have found this an opportunity to learn more about my fellow humans, inquiring, perhaps, what sort of car was allowed in front of his house, and was he aware this is a rental neighborhood, and that one doesn’t actually purchase the street when one buys (or rents) a home.
Mrs. Cloudy (an anthropologist by trade) was only interested in a poop-free yard.
After a few poop free days, the pooping reached new levels. Seasons passed. Mrs. Doucebag had a baby. The dog roamed far and wide, the front door swinging open several times a day, that poop machine galloping out into a world of new joggers to harass, new and poop-free turf to conquer.
One night we had a big party, and as I walked out the front door with G., a dear friend and one of the kindest humans I have ever known, watched the dog shoot by, barking its head off. I gave him a quick overview of the dog’s routine and owners.
“Oh,” he said, “They’re doucebags”.
“You know them?” I asked (I guess by now I thought that really was their last name).
One night, a bit liquored up, I gathered up all the poop in our yard with a shovel. I figured “Well, I only ask my kids to do something once”, and I assumed this poop was somehow important to the doucebags. It was their property, after all, and with all the poop decorating their own dying yard, I thought maybe there was some cultural thing I didn’t understand, some significance to this poop. I figured they wanted it back. Returned about a half bushel to their front walk. Where it sat for a day or two.
Oddly enough, our yard slowly de-pooped, as the dog’s pooping territory increased. You’d see him, two houses down and across the street, squatted next to someone’s front porch.
And then I saw something truly remarkable.
It started with the dog barking. But this time, he was on the front walk of Douce Manor, barking at the door. Mrs. Doucebag came out, carrying the baby. She went to their car which was in the street, got in the driver’s side, and plopped the baby in the (child-seat-free) front seat.
(Let me digress here for a moment and state that Mrs. Doucebag has obviously heard that it’s unsafe to put a child carrier in your front seat. However, she didn’t put the baby in the back seat, so I think she may still need to read up on car safety for the young).
She started the car as the dog watched, and then she drove off - and the dog tore off after her. I waited, wondering if she’d gone off to the store and left the dog. But no - she had turned around at the end of the block, and shot past our houses at a good clip - the dog galloping along behind.
I stepped to the street and watched her turn the far corner - the dog stopped, confused.
That’s when I realized what she was doing - she was walking the dog.
Her car shot by again in a few moments. She drove to where the dog was still pacing, stopped in the intersection, got out, and shooed the dog into the back seat, and drove off again.
A few minutes later, she came back, and disappeared into her driveway - the dog, again, running along behind the vehicle.
So, friends, I ask you:
There is a comment form below. Use it, please, and forward this link along to any friends. I just ask a simple question - doucebags, yay or nay?
Thank you for your help.