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the war has ended and I claim victory


A while ago I wrote about the war I imposed on my neighbor's cat. You read about that here or you can keep reading this to learn about the most recent chapter.

My own Hefty Bag Holy War began the day I approached my garbage cans and saw the ravages of destruction that lie before me. We keep our black plastic cans, with lids mind you, on the side of the house. We spent a while last summer laying bricks down to create a somewhat level surface to house those garbage cans, rather than letting them sit askew on grass and dirt. Every time I deposit a full bag of trash into the garbage can, I secure the lid.

So when I opened the door and saw one of the four cans lying on its side, the contents of two Hefty bags strewn about the bricks like so many dried up fall leaves, I couldn't understand how that happened. I have a system, people. I open the "locking handle" to the can, drop in the bag and return the lid to its proper place. I actually line up the edges of the lid to the corresponding handles. Then I secure the handles in the upright position, thereby "locking" the handle into place.

How could this system have failed, I wondered as I picked up the remnants of Harry McNamara's vandalism. That's the cat's name, Harry McNamara. He lives next door and he roams the neighborhood like a philandering husband. I'll admit I almost succumbed to his charms early on. He's a looker with his brown and black stripes and his white underbelly. But when I saw how adamant he is to wrangle with my garbage cans, my anger began to simmer and boil.

I gave him some stern warnings disguised in a playful pat on the head while his owner was looking. His green eyes mocked me as a purr rumbled in his throat. I smiled as I whispered, "I hate you," and then rubbed behind his left ear.

Like Wyle E. Coyote, I have made plans via my mental chalkboard on how to trap that feline's ass and ship it to the moon. So far I haven't had much success.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I opened the door to drop a bag of trash in the can, and as I lifted the lid I saw the furry back of animal curled in the fetal position. Inside. The garbage can.

I used everything I had to suppress the scream forming in my throat. I put the lid back on, locked the useless handles and put the recycle bin on top of the garbage can to secure its contents. I quietly shut the door to the house and then I obsessively washed my hands. I also shuddered at infrequent intervals throughout the rest of that day.

When my husband got home I accosted him at the door to tell him not to move the recycle bin on top of the garbage can. I relayed my story and told him to proceed with caution.

He went out a bit later to survey the situation. He said when he opened the can he could hear the possum (that's what was in the can) wheezing. Clearly, this animal came to our garbage can to die. Wonderful.

I anxiously awaited garbage day, which was three days off. I didn't touch that can until I had to wheel it to the curb. I tried to elongate my arms as I wanted my body as far away from that death can as possible when I dragged it to the street. After, I went through my routine of obsessive hand washing and intermittent shudders.

I stood nervously at the window that day, making sure the garbage man was going to take the refuse away, no questions asked. I did feel a bit like I was trying to dispose of a severed foot while avoiding the prying eyes of the authorities. Finally the colossal green and white truck pulled up in front of my house. He threw off the lids, as is his custom, and mundanely emptied the contents of all four cans into the dumpster. He threw the receptacles back on my lawn and got behind the steering wheel. When he put the truck in gear and drove away, I let out a long sigh of relief.

The stench of death had successfully been removed from the premises.

Later that week I had a chance to chat with Harry's owner. She casually mentioned that she has had problems with possums tearing apart her trash. So she put rat poison out for the possum to eat and, presumably, die. I actually thought I heard clinking noises as the pieces fell into place.

So Harry McNamara has been cleared, ever so narrowly, of the war crimes he was accused of. I still see him as guilty by association, what with him being a member of the animal kingdom.

My new and improved plan of attack has been to use bungee cords wrapped through the handles of the "locking" lids. When I secured the last one, I said under my breath, "Let's see you unlatch this, mofo."

I'm happy to report that, so far, not one animal has been up to the challenge.


2007-01-06 at 8:27 a.m.

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