Open Letter to the Neighbor Who Put a Bag of Dog Shit in My Purse


Dear Neighbor,

First of all, I would like to sincerely apologize for my dog.  It was an entirely innocent mistake, but I also realize how you might have misconstrued the situation. We had just arrived at our cabin after a long drive and I was taking our dogs for a walk.  I momentarily lost control of them as I stopped briefly to give another neighbor a welcoming hug.  The dogs ran ahead to the beach in front of your picture window.  I can imagine your disgust as three generations of your family collectively watched our dog crouch and deposit a well-crafted poop into your sand.  I was unaware of this grievous misdeed when I caught up to the dogs.

I can offer testimonials from other neighbors who will verify that I am meticulous about picking up after our dogs. I have even attended to other dogs’ deposits.  I would have immediately responded if you had popped your head out of the door and directly asked me to pick up.  Instead you elected to let me pass by, then went out to the beach and picked up the poop yourself.

Perhaps you were originally going to dispose of the offending item in your garbage can, but now with bag in hand, you reconsidered.  Feces are a powerful motivator.  The phrase “Don’t shit where you live,” neatly encapsulates the evolutionary and cultural mandates for any social animal living in a confined space, so I understand how unattended shit could prompt retaliation.  As I walked away you headed in the other direction across the footbridge and back to my cabin.

It was a beautiful night along the remote shores of Lake Superior.  Far from any city lights the smear of the Milky Way was highlighted by the profoundly black sky.   I imagine that on other nights you might have wandered out to the footbridge to look for shooting stars and lingered in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. But instead you were stomping along the bridge with the sand-encrusted, piping-hot bag of shit rhythmically swaying in your hand and tapping against your leg.  Picking up a dump is inherently humiliating, the humiliation further deepened when it’s someone else’s.  Perhaps the wafting fragrance fueled your anger.  This was not what you wanted to be doing on your hard-earned vacation.  I get it.

When you arrived at our cabin, how did you choose where to deposit your fetid bag? This was a big decision.  I’m sure you realize that the power of shit escalates when you make it personal.  The hood of the car, the lid of the garbage can or the porch would have been neutral spots, but when you nestled that dog shit in my purse, you made it personal, turned a marginally acceptable but teachable moment into a vindictive act.  Okay, it wasn’t exactly a purse, it was really a tote bag, but now my toothbrush, hairbrush, address book and cell phone were separated from feces by only a thin and permeable layer of plastic.

Perhaps you had worked yourself into a seething fit of pique over the time bomb left on your beach – so much so that the shit in the purse actually represented restraint on your part.  I suppose you could have lain in wait and flung the bag at me, like the frustrated ape in the zoo, or in scene from the Godfather, placed the bag like the head of a horse onto our pillow.  Perhaps I was lucky to escape further escalation.  If so, thank you for your consideration.  As it was, I calmly plucked the poop from my bag and placed it in the garbage. No harm, no foul.

Please be reassured that I am writing with good humor and a forgiving heart.  You see, I have struggled to control identical impulses.  At home, I often cross paths with an aggressive Doberman whose owner steadfastly refuses to leash his dogs as required by park regulations.  His consistent disregard for etiquette has prompted me to consider sabotaging his walks.  As I stand there gazing at his big black Escalade, I touch the bag of my own dog’s shit idling in my pocket and feel it transform into a handy weapon, a grenade without a pin. Glancing to my right and left, I think how easy it would be to skulk over to his car and discharge my weapon with a big smear across his windshield.  So far I have just barely held off and held on to my dignity.  In the future I hope you would also refrain from weaponizing feces.  My advice – just don’t let a bag of dog shit turn you into a person you don’t want to be.

Warm regards from your neighbor,


Liza Blue


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