Sometimes, it's about the small victories. The little things, the minor wins, those brief moments when you can shake your fist in the air and crow, 'Hoho, Universe -- I finally got one!'
Or so I'm told. It's not like I would actually know. When it comes to little things, I'm 0-for-everything. Batting zero. Shutout city.
Every once in a while, it seems as though I could win. I get close. And then the door slams shut, and I'm put back in my place until the next horrific emasculating nightmare.
Take dog poop, for instance. I've been dealing with dog poop for a long time -- just over twelve years now. That's almost as long as I've been dealing with our dog.
(Like, very almost. There was that brief magical period when we had the dog, and we thought, 'Hey, maybe this one just doesn't poop at all. Could it be we dodged the big dog turd bullet altogether?'
And then, two hours later, WHAM! One squat, and the honeymoon was over. Ain't that always the way?)
For most of my poop-scooping experience, I've used bags. Clear open-top plastic bags meant for freezing food or keeping sandwiches fresh. Poor little buggers come off the shelf, thinking they'll be stuffed full of Otter Pops or PB&Js. But no. It's half-digested horse meat and three-day old rawhide passed through a mutt intestine. *bzzzzzzzzzzt!* Thanks for playing!
(At least I'm not the only one who never wins. Keep yer chin up, sammich bags!)
As of about three months ago, though -- just about the time cold weather was setting in -- the paradigm changed. My wife decided, bless her precious little heart, that the 'old bags' just weren't cutting it any more. Suddenly, the plain one-gallon transparent jobbies winked out of vogue, like shoulder pads on sports jackets or movies with Renee Zellweger.
Instead, I was told, we had fresh new fashionable poo receptacles -- little rolls of plastic bags in neon green and pink and orange, tucked into a little holder and designed precisely for the purpose of snatching steaming scat from besmirched sidewalks.
"Life does nothing but get harder and dumber and more impossibly aggravating as you get older. That's just how it is."
Fine, I said. I don't need the big sales pitch. I've used a leaf for the job, when I had to. Hell, I've used a dollar bill. I've had frozen turd bags, rooms full of doo, and sacks of crap steeped like sun tea in the back of my Maxima. It's not art, it's not rocket science -- and if you're asking me to be fashionable while I'm collecting cuckoo canine kaka, then we're all going to be sorely disappointed. Just give me the damned bag and open the door. I've got shit to scoop, lady. Bags is bags.
Or so I thought. Turns out, these bags are not bags. Not always.
No, sometimes these bags are sheets. Little rectangular sheets of plastic that come out of the little holder so tightly squeezed together that the sides don't separate. You can -- sometimes -- twist the edges between your fingers to get the sides to open up, or pick at the rim of the bag for a purchase, but that's about the only way to turn these neon-colored sheets back into the bags they were advertised to me.
And you know what makes them stick more? Cold. Did I mention we started using these in the winter? Yeah. Good times, sunshine. Good times.
Now, all of this was to be expected. Life does nothing but get harder and dumber and more impossibly aggravating as you get older. That's just how it is. And I spent many a frozen fumble-fingered night standing over a fresh heap of mutt dung, fiddling with one of those stupid effing openless bags and cursing whoever turned my wife onto the godforsaken idea in the first place.
(Because I can't curse her directly. She KNOWS.)
Until one night, I won. Accidentally, to be sure -- but I really thought I'd won. I was fiddling and cursing and fumbly-fingering as before, when suddenly the top of the bag ripped. And in that little ragged plastic edge, the two sides. Magically. Came. Apart.
I felt like Columbus discovering some new land he thought was back in the other direction. Or the 'Eureka! guy, with the bathtub thing. Or whats-his-name Dyson, when he first thought of putting his balls into a vacuum machine.
(Oh, you know what I mean. Keep yer dust trap on, sparky.)
So for a week, I won. The dog would skitter to the door for a walk, I'd grab a bag and a leash and lead her out, she'd crap her pooching little brains out, and I'd rip the bag. On purpose. Just rip it halfway to hell, open it up, scoop, dump, and be done. After an entire winter of losing, I'd finally won. I beat those bags. Victory was mine!
That lasted about a day. Soon enough, I found the flaw in my winsome little scheme. Namely, that in the dark in the middle of the night -- which is prime pooping time, if you ask our persnickety-boweled mutt -- there's no way to tell one end of the bag from the other. So soon enough, I was faced with a pile of pup poop, pulled out a bag and ripped the living shit right out of the bottom.
As you may know, this maneuver does not produce a bag. No, sir. Instead, I stood there holding a new hot pink plastic headband -- which is just peachy if a Jane Fonda movie revival were to suddenly break out. But it's a pretty piss-poor tool for removing shit from a sidewalk. And not 'winning'. Not by half.
So now I'm back to scrabbling at the corners of these ridiculous bags, freezing my Dyson balls off trying to find a millimeter of space between the sides of these horked-up pooping bags. I had a solution to the problem, for one brief shining moment. And then it blew up in my face.
Also, it dripped on my shoes. And onto my pants. And I washed my hands for three hours that night, but I could still smell the kibble. Yuck.
So now I've learned my lesson. 'Winning' isn't everything. Or the only thing. Or anything. Those 'small victories' are for other people, in other places, with far more sanity attached to their choice of poop bags. Until I can train the dog to crap directly into a double-handled Hefty, I'm on my own. In the dark. With plastic neon 'sheets'.
I should have known it would end like this. Universe, you got me again.