As I lay on my back on a blanket in the middle of Bonner Park, a Nerf football for a pillow, I gazed up at the sky and watched the clouds scud by. It’s something that grown-ups just never do, and I was digging it. It was an absolutely perfect day, temperature in the low 70’s, a slight breeze from the west pushing those clouds past my field of vision. Barb and I had decided to bring Rusty and Speaker to the park for a picnic on this brilliant Saturday, the most beautiful spring day we’d seen yet.
So I lay there, soaking up the long-absent sunshine, picking out various shapes and animals morphing among the clouds. An elephant with a huge trunk. Now it’s a panda bear being bisected by a high-flying airliner. Now it looks a lot like a softball. A bright yellow softball. And it’s getting bigger…BAM! It was an errant throw from Speaker, and it nailed me right in the forehead.
She was playing catch with her brother, and had heaved one right over his head. Fortunately, it was a squishy minor-league ball and didn’t hurt much. Still, I grabbed the ball, leaped to my feet, and chased her around the dugout. She squealed with delight and mock fear, and she gave me the slip around the backstop. I gave up and returned to the blanket, tossing the ball to Rusty. Barb put down her book, picked up the Nerf football and told me to go long. I ran towards the band shell, and looked back in time to see her perfectly thrown spiral floating down over my left shoulder. I hauled in the pass and raised my arms in triumph, but my feet got tangled up and I fell to the grass.
Like a car wreck, it all happened in slow motion. As I began to fall, I instinctively looked down to see if there was a sprinkler head in the grass. No sprinkler head, but something much, much worse. I fell directly onto a humongous, spongy, fresh pile of warm shit. Took it full on the chest, as if I were throwing myself on a grenade to save my platoon. Boom. Squish.
I’d like to report that it was dog crap, but from the size and quantity, I have to wonder if someone had been out that morning, walking his pet mastodon. I mean, this was one impressively huge stack of poop. You could probably see it from the other end of Bonner Park, a city block away, but we’d somehow missed it when we set up our picnic headquarters. It was a big as a dollhouse. A dollhouse with brown siding and no windows. The dog who left this vile pile must have brought along a newspaper to read.
“Nice catch, honey!” Barb yelled from the blanket. “Are you okay?” I rolled over on my back and held up the ball. What a freakin’ guy thing to do. I’m smeared chin to knees with fresh dog shit, and I want to make sure I get credit for the catch. “Yeah,” I said with a little dry heave. “I’m peachy.” I got up, peeled off my t-shirt, walked over to a trash can near the sidewalk, and threw it away. I returned to the blanket.
“That was a nice catch,” Barb said, fishing around in the ice chest. “You want a beer? Jesus Christ, you STINK.” She held her nose and tossed me a PBR. “What the hell?”
I snapped open the can and immediately sucked down half of it. “Dog shit. Big pile.” I retched, but only threw up a little in my mouth. The smell was embedded in my sinuses. “Godda go home. Shower.”
She started backing away slowly, waving the air in front of her nose. “Oh, god, yeah, it’s bad. Must have been pretty fresh. But the kids are having such a good time. Couldn’t you just clean yourself up in the bathroom?”
I looked over at the bathrooms. “Still locked,” I said. “They won’t open ‘em up ‘til Labor Day. Unh-hnnccch.” Another dry heave.
Barb, still holding her nose pinched shut, reached into the ice chest and pulled out a bottle of Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing. “Rub a little of this on yourself. It might cover the stench.” She tossed me the bottle. I shook it up and poured a palm full. I rubbed it all over my torso like it was sunscreen. To my surprise, it overpowered the dog shit stink almost immediately. I hope the kids appreciate what I’m doing, I thought, so they can continue to romp in the spring sunshine while their father marinates in garlicky feces.
“Hey dad,” Rusty yelled. “Come pitch to us! We want to hit.” I grabbed my mitt and headed over to the ball field. Rusty met me at the pitcher’s mound and gave me the ball. He squinched up his face and staggered back a couple of steps. “WHOA! Dad! What happened?”
“Nothing,” I said, rubbing some stray basil flecks into my chest. “Why do you ask?”
“Because you smell like a salad that got flushed down the toilet!” he said as he ran toward home plate, cackling at his own joke. “Hey, Speaker,” he said, “dad STINKS!”
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat salad again. But as of now, I’m definitely a Thousand Island man.[If you think dog shit stories are funny, you've come to the right place. www.newwest.net/bobwire.]