So Wednesday, as I pull in to my driveway and prepare to unload the massive amount of shit necessary to sustain me at work and Bird at daycare, my 10-year-old neighbor, Littel, comes running into the yard.
“You still got my litterbox?”
I don’t even have one foot out of the car yet.
“I need my litterbox back. I’m getting a new cat next week.”
Oh, right. Littel’s former cat, Brownie, ran away last fall. Being a sweet kid at his core, he brought over Brownie’s litterbox, all cleaned out and ready to receive more disgusting cat shit.
He wanted to know if we might need it for Thomas.
Having used the same litterbox for nine years, we accepted.
“Littel, that litterbox is full of poop. I don’t think you want it.”
“Can’t you just clean it out?”
“Do you have the cat right now?”
“No. My friend has it. I’m getting it in a couple days.”
“I’m just going to have to get a new one for you. I’m not cleaning that thing out. Besides, we don’t exactly have another litterbox on hand.”
You know, since I wasn’t aware this was a loan. CAT BOXES ARE NOT LOANER ITEMS in my world.
“Well, okay, but I need that litterbox back.”
Littel ran back down the hill into his house. I got my nine bags of various shit plus preschooler plus the day’s preschool artwork out of the car.
Two minutes later, he was back, knocking on our door.
“I need my scooper back.”
“My scooper. I need it back.”
“Littel. I’m telling you. It’s covered in poop. I don’t think you want it back.”
“Wash it off, then. I need it.”
“DO YOU EVEN HAVE A CAT??”
“Not right now, but I’m going to. My mama says she can’t find that same scooper no more at KMart.”
I tell him to hold on. I grab the shit-covered scooper and hand it to him as-is, caked with stinky, vile cat shit.
“There’s your scooper. I’ll get you a new litterbox tomorrow.”
“Well, I’m not getting the cat for a few days.”
“DO I OWE YOU A LITTERBOX OR NOT”
I close the door. I tell A. to buy the f-ing kid an f-ing litterbox, and vow never, ever to exchange goods– even shitboxes– with a ten-year-old again. And the thing is? It was undoubtedly Crazy M that sent him over to take back his litterbox in the first place. This is the same woman that sent him over to bang on our door at 11pm because someone was parked in “her” parking spot on the PUBLIC STREET, the woman who “gave” A. a pair of sneakers for Birdy, which were ugly and unsafe but which A. accepted so as not to hurt her feelings, and then sent Littel over the next day demanding $10 for the f-ing things. Gah. I could go on.
I know, I know. If we lived in nice, sterile, non-ghetto suburbia I’d still have a crazy neighbor, probably some busybody all up in my business or ferociously wanting to sell me some Mary Kay or wanting me to remove the one-winged gargoyle from the front porch (true) or getting all concerned about my country backyard clothesline*. But I live in a colorful little “emerging” neighborhood, and I have Crazy M and Littel, Drunken Teacher, Big Marvin, Friendly Hispanic Mechanic, and the Flower Sisters. And truthfully, I’ll take them over a buttoned-down cul-du-sac any day of the week. Even if it costs me a cat box every now and again, I guess. But I’m going to be pissed off for a while. And it doesn’t help that Littel just picked about 8 gorgeous-but-still-very-green tomatoes from my garden.
*Still diggin’ the clothesline, by the way. Most people I’ve told about it seem very excited, though maybe they’re just being kind. When a very senior-level person at work heard about it she said, “like, in your backyard?” Like I was slaughtering chickens in a voodoo ritual in the alley or something. Which I am not. Because I am vegetarian, and because I would not risk getting chicken guts on my crisp, clean sheets as they’re hanging out to dry.