Sod of Destiny
A beautiful Sunday afternoon at Tanglewood. My wife and I have lawn seats for the Boston Symphony. They will play Beethoven’s Ninth. We arrive early, spread out our fresh picnic blanket on the grass, and take in the scene.
At one point, a pair of policemen dressed in their casual concert civvies—complete with cop baseball caps—come walking past with a drug-sniffing golden retriever. Must be a rough crowd they’re expecting this afternoon.
Not far from where we’re sitting, the detection dog decides it’s time. He stops to take a big, loose and steamy crap right there on the lawn. This long, hot, doggy defecation goes on for quite a while. The older of the two cops says to the younger: “Get a good look—that’s your future spreading out before your eyes.” The young cop shoots his partner a sore look.
When the dog’s business has run its course, the older cop just gives a nod and the younger one, now scowling, stoops with a plastic bag over his hand and scoops up the whole stinking, sublimating heap. He secures the payload and deposits it in a nearby trashcan. Then he kicks up some dust from the adjacent gravel path, grabs a handful, and sprinkles it on the profaned spot. Good cop! And off go the policemen with their dog.
A few minutes later, an older couple approaches from the other direction. He is wearing an old man’s sweater and Hush Puppies. She is wearing a black dress with a light jacket over it, black sandals on her feet. Both are wearing big hats to block the sun. It’s warm this afternoon and they look like they’re feeling the heat. Suddenly they stop and she removes her sandals. He watches her do this. She must want to feel the cooling green of the summer lawn on the bottoms of her bare feet. But not him; the Hush Puppies stay put. The couple resumes their journey.
Perhaps you see where this is heading. I sure do.
Closer and closer they draw toward that fateful spot. As if guided by mysterious causes and conditions, the barefoot older lady steps on the very spot where the golden retriever just crapped–and she stops there! Him too, but he’s got those Hush Puppies to run interference. The two of them start chatting about all the things that a couple who has been together for fifty years chats about under the pleasant summer sun of a Tanglewood afternoon. This goes on and on. Until all at once her right foot—along with the entire lower leg—becomes a flesh-and-blood funerary monument for a dog turd. Talk about the roof of hell!
I can’t take my eyes off the scene. The horror, the horror! The event is fraught with danger—and questions. What I should I do? Go over and let them know where they stand? Isn’t this one of those situations where the messenger gets slain? Will they think I’m just pulling some kind of prank? And who am I to shatter anybody’s summer bliss at Tanglewood? Surely the lady is enjoying the soothing feel of that summer grass between her toes.
Finally, I’m released from my dilemma. The old couple moves on of their own accord, still chatting, still blissful, until they reach the gravel path—the same path where the cop earlier kicked up a little dust. Here the lady puts on her black sandals. And off they walk, this happy older couple, into the rest of their lives.
My wife, also witness to the scene, turns and says to me: “We’re washing this blanket when we get home.”