Family life 25 Oct 2012 06:57 am

Rooftop fishin’

Less than two weeks before Halloween and I was facing my fear of heights to fish a bag of poop off the neighbor’s roof.

I wish I could say I was a Good Samaritan, that the nice couple next door had reached out in need because hooligans had taken the “trick” part of “trick or treat” to heart.

But I can’t, because I threw the poop up there myself.

Before I go further, let me explain that I’m not the world’s best neighbor. Living next to Chris Schillig doesn’t exactly guarantee property values will drop, but it is a sign that you should contact a real estate agent soon.

You know the neighbor who obsesses over his lawn and shrubs, trimming and pruning to surgical precision, using a leaf blower the way a holy man might wield a crucifix, covering porch railings and mailbox with fresh coats of paint every spring whether they need it or not?

Well, I’m not that neighbor.

My sole goal for mowing is to set a new PR each time I pull the cord. My idea of weeding is to run that same mower through the flower beds, as long as it doesn’t detract from my overall time. I consider Mother Nature to be the best leaf blower, especially when she shuffles fall’s foliage out of my yard and into somebody else’s. The one time I tried my hand with a paintbrush, I stopped mid-stroke and hired somebody else — the cheapest somebody else I could find — to finish the job.

In other words, I’m less Ward Cleaver and more Homer Simpson.

But I do have standards, lax though they may be — weeds in the crack of the hypothetical sidewalk that even I refuse to cross. And tossing feces on the neighbor’s roof definitely is on the wrong side of that line.

Not that I intentionally threw the poop there, of course.

See, while I am in other regards a neighbor to be avoided, if not outright abhorred, in one regard I am the picture of fastidiousness: cleaning up after my dog.

Whenever I walk him, I take an ample supply of doggie bags, and not the kind they give you in restaurants. Wherever and whenever my pooch squats, I am there, usually with plastic Walmart sack in hand, plucking every last trace of steaming doggie DNA from the frosty autumn grass.

The problem is that I fancy myself a major-league pitcher. When I return home, I stand at the end of the driveway, between my neighbor’s house and mine, and hurl the bag of poop toward my detached garage, aiming for the garbage can.

Usually, I miss the target. Bags often carom off the backyard fence, the side of the house and my wife’s car.

But on one memorable Thursday night, the dog jerked his leash as I went into the windup and the bag did not shoot down the drive toward friendly-fire targets, but rather up, up, up into the air and splat! onto the neighbor’s roof.

It was awfully dark that night, so inky black that I wasn’t certain where the bag had landed. But I hadn’t thrown it high enough to escape the atmosphere and enter orbit, and it hadn’t come back down, so I suspected the worst.

(Actually, the worst would have been through their living room window and into their laps as they watched TV, but still …)

For one moment, I considered slinking inside the house and pretending like I hadn’t violated a social norm bigger than Antarctica.

And actually, that’s just what I did.

But then my conscience kicked in, and I knew I would have to confess.

So that’s how, one day later, I ended up balanced precariously on a ladder, using a broomstick to bridge the gap between the top of the highest rung and the offensive bag of feces.

It was a growth experience in many ways. Halloween should be all about facing your fears — whether a fear of social embarrassment or a fear of heights.

For me, the first was much worse than the second. Not only did I have to confess to my neighbor that I’d thrown a steaming bag of crap on his roof, but because I’m the kind of neighbor who isn’t the least bit handy, I also had to borrow his ladder to get it down.

chris.schillig@yahoo.com

@cschillig on Twitter

Originally published Oct. 25, 2012, in The Alliance Review.

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