The Not Shoveled Walk

March 20th, 2007

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It’s my last night of house/cat-sitting and it’s just like you’re picturing it: one boy, three cats, seven eyes (five functioning), fourteen legs, and one pair of pants - and yes, I just now looked around the room and counted all those things, it wasn’t like a mental picture/abstract sort of counting, this is the real deal.

So remember how last letter I wrote (re: house-sitting), “it’s cool. I’ll just pretend that I’m at the point in my life where I have my own reasonably sized apartment?? Well fuck that, because I couldn’t just pretend to shovel the ice-storm that hit over the weekend. And thusly, it did not get done. Because anything you can’t just pretend to do, isn’t worth doing at all. But the bitch in the system is that my boss and her husband own the property, so they’re liable if any one gets hurt. And she calls and tells me this and specifically requests that I shovel the walk. So now the not shoveling results in a slight case of bad conscience which in turn leads to paranoia, and you start thinking that all the neighbors - who are clearly curious about the usual residents’ absence and your sudden appearance – are glaring at you and they know that not shoveling endangers people and they can tell by your guilty face that you know too. And in your mind you’re perceived as a foreign person who disregards the safety of his neighbors, and on top of all that you sort of also think that maybe they wonder if you’re a burglar. All of this is particularly demeaning from the moomoo-clad old lady across the street who cleared a driveway of ice all by herself (she must have been out at like five in the morning, I swear to god).

But that aside, I finally admitted to my boss tonight that when she returns tomorrow she might be embarrassed that her home is the only one on the block with a not shoveled sidewalk. I did tell her that I looked for rock salt and there was none, which is true, and also that their metal shovel has a bent front edge so it wouldn’t break the ice, which is also true. But not as excuses, as reasons. I think she took the news rather well and asked that I pour some regular table salt over the ice tonight. Fine. No big deal. But then I get here and the idea of the neighbors watching me come out, two or three days later, to finally attempt to clear the ice, and all I do is pour some table salt on it. It was just too much. I can’t ever be perceived, even if it’s true, as that big a fool. So I waited until like midnight when everyone would be asleep and snuck quietly out front with the container of table salt. I made sure to use the pour spout (as opposed to the shaker spout) like a man would just in case someone happened to look out their window, so it wouldn’t be too emasculating. At first I was just dumping it around in a lackluster fashion, but then I sort of got into it and waved my hand back and forth so it looked like the salt spray from a DOT truck. Then I started doing other patterns and tempos. I just kept pacing up and down the walk amusing myself, I think laughing a little bit even. Suddenly, I just wanted to be playing with the salt forever. I emptied the whole container and wasn’t satisfied so I went to the bodega and got two more. I must have been pouring salt over those five squares of sidewalk for about an hour. By the end I wanted the whole block to come out and watch me. I’d look confident, defiant, and secure. Maybe he’s not so bad, they’d think. Maybe next time I’ll not shovel my walk too. I wonder what else you can pour salt on for fun? And stuff like that.


P.S. The totally blind cat seems to know her way around so I’ll just pick her up and run around the apartment haphazardly, stopping sometimes to just spin around, and then put her down and see how long it takes her to reorient herself.