Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I’m a shitslinger. There’s no way around it. I like to sling shit.

Literally – not figuratively, metaphorically, or otherwise.

Every time I tie up that little blue shit bag, weighted with the warm compact butt nuggets from our well-fed terrier mix, I think about winding that shit up and letting it fly.

Is that wrong? Is it, though?

Is it really?

Let me back up for a moment.

When I was 15, growing up in Chicago, I had a very important job. It was my household chore to walk to our family dog – a shepherd collie mix – down three flights of stairs every night, rain or shine, up and down the alley behind our house, until she finally found an agreeable place to plant her signature dogpile.

Some nights it would take her two minutes to find that perfect patch of gravelly heaven. Sometimes she’d sniff every split in the pavement, taking 20 minutes or more to identify a shitworthy canvass for those repug-nificent works of arse.

Only one thing was certain those nights – when she was done doing her business, I was in the shitslinging business.

Back then, they didn’t really have all of these fancy pile-sized "hand" bags that they do these days, so I had to follow her around with a crumpled up plastic grocery bag. Sometimes the bags had holes in them that you couldn’t see in the dim alley light at night, but you were sure to FEEL them if you squeezed the assfruit a smidge too hard.

For some reason, when you’re 15, it doesn’t occur to you that slinging shit is a bad idea. You don’t think about where it goes, or who’s going to clean it up later. You just know that it liberates you in some mysterious way. Nope - when you're 15 - slinging shit is a perfectly sane, sensible thing to do because...well, why not?

So when my canine companion would finally rise from that signature shit stance, kicking up stones and dust with her hind feet, I’d swoop in with my plastic falcon to swiftly extract the crap from the concrete. In a single motion, I’d deftly pull the bag handles forward, trapping the crap inside the bag, and tie the top into an awkward bunny-eared bow.

Making sure the coast was clear, I’d spin a couple times imagining I was an Olympic shitslinger going for the gold. Like a shot putter, or a discus thrower, I’d leverage the momentum of my rotating torso and let that turdpedo soar into the night sky - target unknown.

Most of the time I would lose sight of it, a muffled rustle somewhere in the distance confirming that my payload had found purchase, and almost wetting my pants with glee in the process.

My parents had no idea I was out slinging shit all over the neighborhood at night, until that fateful Spring morning. My mother screamed my name in a way I knew I had been discovered. I ran to meet her out on our third floor porch. We looked down from our perch at the maze of telephone lines and garbage cans in the back alley.

The snow outside had melted overnight after a long, cold winter, revealing a gloriously macabre sight.

All up and down the alley, for blocks in both directions, the garage rooftops were dotted with plastic bags of shit. They had frozen in place where they landed, night after night, most standing upright, the handles all tied in tight bows. At a glance, someone might have thought an airplane full of skinny white Easter baskets had airdropped its cargo all over the north side neighborhood.

There had to have been a hundred bags of thawing dog shit on those rooftops, if not more.

Somehow, my mother had me pegged for a shitslinger, because she knew in an instant that this work had my signature all over it. I could not deny it. I was laughing too hard. I was also grounded for months. And worse – my shitslinging days were all but over.

Flash forward to today and I find myself struck by the same impish urge to do something I now recognize is – more than simply mischievous – just plain wrong. Only now my juvenile urges are laced with an unhealthy dose of creativity.

As I walk the dog back home, I envision all the “fun” I could have with that tiny blue bag of dog shit.

I see the open sunroof of an expensive luxury car and I think, “Time is winding down...he drives, spins, fakes, pivots, fakes again,'s up and...he SCORES!!”

I notice an open window walking past a neighbor’s house at night and wonder how fast I would have to run to escape visual ID after pitching a plastic-wrapped pile of poop onto their dining room table.

I look at the mailboxes on the street corner and wonder if the post office would ever be able to return that shit to sender.

I see cyclists as moving targets. I see condo balconies as a chance to elevate my game. I see busy intersections as a crap shoot.

And I see garbage cans as joining the ranks of adulthood.

I know my wife, for one, is thankful I have thus far managed to silence the menace within, surrendering to adulthood night after night, and depositing those little blue bags in the trash where they belong.

But that doesn’t stop the shitslinger in me from dreaming. Because every time I tie up that little plastic bag, weighted with those warm compact nuggets from our well-fed terrier mix, the 15 year-old in me remembers the liberation I felt years ago from setting that shit free.

Sometimes you just gotta let shit go. It is, after all, the best way to know if that shit's gonna fly.