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The Turd Herder

turd herder 2

According to Nazli, my loading technique lacks poise, dexterity and aplomb.

Her primary pet peeve is when I impale the glasses on the spikes in the upper tray instead of placing them elegantly, using the spike rows as guardrails to nestle the little troopers in line. For her tastes, I’m too haphazard with the utensils, too, jam-packing them into the basket eating-end-down instead of eating-end-up, which screws everything up, because if you do it that way, Marty, and I’m talking to myself now, but believe me, it’s Nazli’s voice in my head, you see, the eating-end doesn’t get enough spray! See all the chunks on this fork, Marty? You see?

I’m aware of Nazli’s concerns, but if I’m being honest, I haven’t made it a priority to work on my dishwasher deficiencies. It’s more natural to skewer the glasses on the spikes and stab the utensils into the basket. It just feels right. At this point, I think she’s run a cost-benefit on the whole thing and determined it’s better I load the dishwasher abominably rather than not at all. I appreciate her meeting me half-way since, as everybody knows, the ultimate crucible of any relationship is the dishes. Trust me, Naz is not the only one who suffers! You’ll feel at least a tingle of pity for me, or perhaps mild disgust, when I tell you it’s not uncommon to find I’m shoveling Golden Grahams into my mouth with a spoon encrusted with ground beef from Taco Night.

Alas! Taco Night! It’s on Wednesdays (we eschew the token Taco Tuesday as too mainstream), but due to some traumatic after-effects we suffered recently, the tradition may be subject to moratorium, or worse, outright discontinuation. You see, after our last taco extravaganza, Naz dreamt her childhood dog Molly was ravaged by a coven of vampire unicorns. As usual, I dreamt about zombies. Always zombies. I remember the night vividly. We awoke in a sweaty panic, kicking and pawing at each other. Naz shrieked something to the effect of (I’m paraphrasing here): “GODDAMN UNICORNS I SHALL HAVE MY VENGEANCE UPON YOU ALL YOU FILTHY COWARDS!” The screaming roused me from a zombie apocalypse in which I had been battling a horde of robot-zombies alongside President Obama, armed with shotgun and machete. I stared at Naz in horror, sizing her up to determine whether she had been infected. Mercifully, her breathing slowed and she fell into a peaceful sleep, which gave me the chance to inspect her body for zombie bites.

Still, on balance, it would be a tragedy if Taco Night was canceled! Tacos are so good, you know? I mean, think about tacos right now. Call up an image of a taco in your mind, real-life or dancing-cartoon version, it matters not. Did you get a little glimmer of happiness, of joy, of hope? Plus, it’s like a big event. Taco Night? Hells to the yeah! I’m über-stoked!

I’m probably rambling about taco spoons and dishwasher dogma because tonight’s my night to clean the apartment, and loading the dishwasher is first on the agenda. You may not have realized that you’re here with me in the Archstone high-rise apartment I share with Naz in Quincy, Massachusetts, but you are. Moreover, you’re in my head, you poor thing.

As I manhandle the dishes into a precarious architectural monstrosity, positive things are starting to happen for me, mentally. I purse my lips and let out an atonal whistle — Crumb’s Mr. Natural, dishwasher-version. The triumph is brief. Dish-free counters reveal imperfections in the form of food stains. I scan the countertops. Yup. They’re festering with horned microbes.

I let out a high-pitched whimper, paralyzed.

Steady, Marty, this is to be expected. I unhinge a roll of paper towels from above the sink, wrapping several trees’ worth of material around my arm, a crazed carney spinning cotton-candy for a snot-nosed brat who keeps whining for more.  You have the tools to rectify the atrocities you see before you.

Seizing the cleaning spray from below the sink, I set the nozzle to ‘kill’ and coat every millimeter of counter space with horned microbe-destroying fluid, flailing my towel-ensconced arm hither and tither. Emanating from the counter comes a collective moan, the demonic host writhing, perishing in agony, banished to the dark, brooding realm from whence it came. Can you hear it? And then, only silence. Huzzah! The unwelcome denizens of the Archstone Quincy Plateau have once again been thwarted. I have held sway. I am conqueror.

Another victory short-lived: The unholy stench of feline guano wafts in from the Booda Dome, triggering a quick session of dry heaves. Don’t imagine the smell. It’s horrid. My next move needs to be the litter, that much is clear.

This task, oddly, I don’t mind. I find it fascinating how the clumping litter bonds with the cat urine to form enormous globules of trapped ammonia-glop. The Scientists really hit it out of the park with that one.

I gather the tools of my trade — litter scoop and Stop & Shop bag — and set to my task, liberating the clumped globules from box-to-bag. The litter becomes agitated, the denser turds sinking in the quicksand. Nonplussed, I dig deeper, singing a song to steady myself. A work song, if you will. Raising my voice to the heavens, I am infused with a soulful comfort derived from a universal, cosmic connection with laborers throughout the ages:

I am the Turd Herder,

that is my name and trade!

I am the Turd Herder,

of good, strong stuff I’m made!

 

I am the Turd Herder,

don’t forget my name!

‘Lest you need turds herded,

 in your kingdom or domain!

 

I am the Turd Herder,

I rock throughout the land!

I am the Turd Herder,

so chill out and step off!

 

I am the Turd Herder,

just chill and watch me work!

I am the Turd Herder,

I’ll show you my dope moves!

I do a quick jig to coincide with the last line, shaking my hips and executing a dainty flutter-kick with my left foot, all while ‘raising the roof’ with the litter scoop. In the middle of my dance-breakdown, it occurs to me that I should send Roomba upon his duties while I attend to mine. Then two tasks will be handled at once – vacuuming and turd-herding!

I push the green button in the center of the vacuum robot, and Roomba responds with a perky trumpet call, tracking a course across the wall-to-wall carpeting, using algorithmic intelligence to alter direction whenever he bumps into a table, chair, or cat. Watching the whip-smart robot zig and zag, I am again reminded of the wonders of Science and the great help that Robots offer us Humans. The Scientists have legit blown my mind with Roomba.

In the midst of grateful contemplation, I realize I forgot to run the dishwasher, so I sprint to the kitchen and set that particular robot (who I have yet to name) to task. The hum of Roomba and the dishwasher robot working simultaneously fills the apartment with a pleasant drone that speaks to the Glory of Humankind.

Thrilled that my output has been tripled to that of three humans, I return to my earnest turd-herding, and my humble song:

I am the Turd Herder,

I rock throughout the land!

I am the Turd Herder,

scoop turds out of this sand!

 

I am the Turd Herder,

let me rock your world!

I am the Turd Herder,

and you are my swell gal!

 

Oh, Mr. Turd Herder,

please come save our land!

‘Lest we be overrun,

with turds all in our sand!

 

Oh, Mr. Turd Herder,

please come save our lives!

For ‘Lo, there is a Scourge,

within our land, of turds!

 

Please, Mr. Turd-Herder!

Rid us of this Scourge!

Please, Mr. Turd-Herder!

RID US OF THESE TURDS!

 

Please, Mr. Turd-Herder!

Rid us of this Scourge!

Please, Mr. Turd-Herder!

RID US OF THESE TURDS!

I finish my noble work, tying the Stop & Shop bag tight to seal in the turds and ammonia globules.

Just then, something wonderful happens. The Glade air-freshener robot, which is set to spray a Hawaiian Tropic scent into the air every eighteen minutes, twinkles her pleasantness down upon the Booda Dome, freshening the litter even further! I can hardly contain my elation. I wink at the robot with affectionate approval. “Nice work, Miss Spritz!” I shoot out my hands, giving Miss Spritz a double thumbs-up. The Scientists have done it again! Huzzah! Heading down the hallway, I drop the bag of turds down the incinerator shaft. Twelve floors below, the evil Scourge of the Turds is eradicated by the cleansing Purity of Fire. The Turd Herder is triumphant, but humble. He can move on to the next town with quiet confidence.

Back in the apartment, I’m feeling a wonderful sense of satisfaction. Cocky, I tackle the bathroom, setting the auto-cleaning nano-bots in Scrubbing Bubbles rampant upon the tub. As I finish the bathroom, Roomba and the dishwasher robot have finished their chores, and Miss Spritz has thrice made the air smell more pleasant (almost exactly like the smell if you were in Hawaii, I bet).

Flush with the glow of a job well done, I collapse onto the couch and click on the TV, nodding off as the creepy-voiced narrator of Forensic Files massages my brain with tales of blood spatter and DNA profiling.

Suddenly, there is a stirring at the door. I awake with a start.

Nazli breezes into the apartment with a warm hello. She’s a short, cute brunette. Fashionable. Glasses. Nerdy-hot. Can you picture her? I stand groggily, planting a kiss on her cheek. I take a few grocery bags off her hands. She starts unloading the groceries, so I figure I might as well go ahead and start unloading the dishwasher. Jargon, Ewok, Felix Baumgartner and Sir Isaac Newton waddle into the kitchen, ‘purring on spec’ about petting soon to come.

“I had a dream last night,” says Nazli. She organizes the vegetables into piles on the kitchen table, then transfers them to the fridge. “And all I remember is that it had a sweet potato in it.”

“A talking sweet potato?” I ask.

“No,” she says, matter-of-factly, “just a sweet potato.”

“Oh, ok,” I say.

Naz swipes a spoon from my hand and politely admonishes my loading technique, pointing out the chunks of Golden Grahams encrusted thereon. She drops the spoon in the utensil basket eating-end-up and gets back to the groceries.

“What’s for dinner?” I ask tentatively.

“Well, it’s Wednesday.” A sly grin forms on her lips. My eyes widen. She chucks me a block of paper towels and I take it to the pantry.

“Ok…so…?” In the pantry, I lower my head, pressing my hands together in solemn prayer.

“Tacos,” Nazli says. “It’s Wednesday, so it’s Taco Night.”

I bound out from the pantry. “Taco Night? TACO NIGHT!” I pump my fist in the air three times and execute a disco spin. “OH HELLS YEAH!” I yell. “I’M UBER-STOKED!”

Naz raises an eyebrow at me, giggles, and continues doing what she was doing.

That night, I dream of zombies.

 

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