I was going through the garbage cans this morning, searching for items that shouldn’t be, but had been, thrown out.
I found a 100-300mm zoom lens, two books, an action figure, three chocolates (still sealed in foil), and the left ventricle portion of a human heart.*
It was at that moment, holding the dripping, still warm heart fragment in my hand, that I realized I had, in my preoccupied state, accidentally stumbled into my neighbors’ backyard and their garbage can.
I suppose the obvious question now is, what was I doing going through the garbage at all?
The Missus and I, in our never-ending, losing struggle to keep a house riddled with toddlers clean, have resorted to bringing in a cleaning service every other week to keep the counter-tops mostly visible.
Unfortunately, the cleaning agents have a habit of seeing the house, letting rip a huge wail of despair, and then, in a sort of catatonic state, scooping everything and anything not nailed down into the garbage.
Including things that shouldn’t be in there. Like a 100-300mm zoom lens for an SLR camera.
So after their visit, and before the garbage goes out to the curb, I have to dig through the heavy, sodden bags to extract anything I don’t want ending up in the landfill.
Did I mention there are a lot of dirty diapers in the garbage too?
This is what instigated my furtive search this morning.
I expect you have another pressing question now that I really ought to answer:
What so occupied my thoughts that I unintentionally ended up in my neighbors’ backyard?
A fair question. Many things, really. The shooting pain in my chest, the numbness in my left arm, the approaching spring-time yowls of the neighborhood feral cats disrupting my sleep.
I hate those cats with a passion.
There were many other items weighing heavily upon me this morning, but I won’t bore you with the details. Believe it or not, I am preoccupied by a lot of things.
Add to that list the awkwardness of discovering nearly half of a human heart, with what appears to be gnaw marks around the edges, in my neighbors’ garbage.
I mean, come on, you don’t just go round to the front door, knock on it, and when they answer, offer them the offending partial organ and say, “I was preoccupied and accidentally ended up rooting through your garbage and found this.”
If your neighbor knocked on your door in similar circumstances, would you believe the garbage-rooting to be an accident?
There’s also the sticky question of how the heart got there.
I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, but to get at it, I’d have to admit I’d been shoulder-deep in their refuse.
It’s just not proper.
The only thing worse is being caught standing over your neighbors’ garbage can with a chuck of human heart oozing in your hands.
What if they hadn’t put it there? Now they’d think you were secreting your unmentionable detritus into their garbage, perhaps with the intention of making them look bad to the other neighbors.
Or the police.
That is exactly the circumstance that popped into my head as I stood over the dark, rotting-flesh-odored bag in their bin.
What if they caught me, quite literally, red-handed?
So I returned the heart to the bag and carefully wiped my hands before peeking over the fence and then, seeing the coast clear, returned home.
With the zoom lens. It was a really expensive one.
But now I have that nagging question hanging over me that will make me feel awkward and uncomfortable around my neighbors every time I encounter them:
Did they see me rooting around in their garbage?
I think the best course of action is to pretend the whole thing never happened.
Don’t think I’ll ask them to babysit any time soon, though.
* I have, in fact, found all but one of these listed items in my garbage. I will leave it to your imagination which item was added to the list as an act of creative license.