I collect oddities. Inexplicables. Always have. Like the time I was taking the dog for a walk, crossing the freeway on an overpass, and looked down to see another woman walking a dog, who neatly picked up the dog’s leavings in a plastic bag, then walked over to an SUV and tucked the bag under the windshield wiper of the car and walked away. What was up with that? Hostility? A message? Was it her car? I’ll never know.
Or the storefront in downtown San Francisco which sported this sign:
Okay, then. If not a store, what was it? Opium den? Corporate drop box? Portal into another dimension? That’d be cool.
Recently my collection has taken in two oddities. One sad, one…curious.
The sad one: across the street from our house is a little green: some trees, some ill-kept lawn, a fence that separates the grass from a hill of mostly overgrown foliage that rolls down to a road leading to the highway. Everyone walks her dog there; almost everyone picks up after his dog. And sometimes animals–skunks, cats, squirrels–hide out there too. Particularly at night, this means Emily goes into Full Alert Hunting Dog mode when she should be in Bathroom-break mode.
So one morning I take Em out for her morning squeeze. As we near the garbage can on the green, I see a towel. Then, with a little shock, I realize that there’s a cat wrapped in the towel, a full sized, well-fed, stiff-as-a-board-and-very-dead cat, with a rigor-snarl on its face. Interestingly, Emily showed no sign of interest in the dead cat. When we got back to the house I called Animal Control to ask them to remove the corpse, but all day I wondered: what was the story there? The cat clearly had not died in situ or of natural causes. The cat was not neglected or a stray. The cat had been carefully wrapped up–sign, as they say on Criminal Minds, of care or remorse. But it had been left near the garbage can–a sign, I should think, that the cat was a problem, not a beloved friend.
The other curious thing I saw this week: a dog who has the oddest relationship with a tennis ball. He’s one of two German short-haired pointers, both named Chase, brought to the dog park by a walker. Most of the time this Chase runs around being, well, doglike. And then, well, you can see his behavior here. He lies on his back with his tennis ball held tenderly between his paws, adoring it. There’s no other term for it. He stares meditatively at the ball for four or five minutes, may roll it down his paws and then back up again. Eventually, his meditation done, he’ll drop it back into his mouth, roll over and get to his feet, and go off to be dog-like. But what is up with this? Is there are story there?
In fact, really, there are stories everywhere, just waiting for you, or me, or someone, to see them.
Madeleine E. Robins is sometimes inspired by the weirdest things. She blogs here on the 7th and 21st of the month, or when the spirit moves her, and even more often than that at her blog, Running Air. Visit her BVC bookshelf.