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there was a college kid in my neighborhood who had the best trained dog i've seen since spuds mckenzie. they had this deal they'd do where the guy would drive along the street and his canine would run on the sidewalk even with the car. if the car stopped, the dog stopped. the dog would always sit down anxiously waiting for his owner\'s car to begin again. i will admit i mildly enjoyed watching this circus-like production the few times i witnessed it. it was different enough to engage you for the couple of minutes they spent passing by. but, one day when i was on the porch reading a book the guy stopped in front of my house and the dog followed suit. it was sitting patiently looking at the car but then seemed to see something in the grass and walked up onto my lawn, quickly hunched up and began taking a pebbly dump in my yard.

now i don't know what the culture is where you live but in my burb, if you dog craps in a yard that is not yours, you pull out the handy bread or ziploc bag from your pocket, collect it and throw it in the next dumpster you come across. it's considered not only the respectful but the right thing to do. once the dog began its evacuation i took a look at the driver. he just looked away and i immediately knew he had zero intention of packing his mutt\'s mess out. sensing the confrontation about to happen i began the duel by staring at the guy, waiting for him to make eye contact so he could see the dangerous rage that was about to be unleashed. he looked but didn\'t seem intimidated. i wished marty was there on the porch with me. i knew it would have been a different story then. i looked down and tried to think what marty would do, what she would say and it came to me. she would act. she would act politely but firmly asking if he needed a bag to pick up his dog's droppings. the guy would be indignant but he would do it. as i was contemplating my move i noticed the book i was reading laying open against my chest with large white letters loudly proclaiming MARTHA STEWART'S GARDENING 101.

i looked back at my adversary and now he was looking at ME, letting ME know he saw this tome, letting ME know that the battle was over. over before it ever began. if only marty had been there i would not have had to pick up a warm pile of dog shit on that day.

AUG2003

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