Reflections on Urban Life

Two Weeks Ago…

Working the night shift, I’m usually up on my days off to see the sunrise, and I’ve made it a bit of a habit to take a cup of coffee out on the patio to sit and enjoy the sunrise, with the pleasantly raucous bird chorus greeting the new day.

I’m sipping coffee, smoking my smoke, basking in the feeling of general peace and well being, when I look up into the tree limb just off of my second-story patio, and…

:record scratch:

Yes, a used condom, hanging from a branch of the tree just off of my patio.

Judging by the height, it’s most likely from my upstairs neighbor; as if I didn’t already have reason enough to dislike the heavy-footed sumbitch.

I suppose in the meta sense I should be glad he’s taking…precautions.

Then again, I’m not the one having sex with him, and I now have to look at his used condom every time I step out onto my patio, so meta goes right out the airlock, with a firm boot in the ass from me to help it on its way.

Several remedies have come to mind, from just telling the landlord (although some problems I don’t really want to wish off on other people), to my 12 gauge (for the condom, not the neighbor, although I do admit that it’s a bit of a coin toss at the moment).

Whether I use the shotgun on the condom or the neighbor, that ain’t too neighborly, and law enforcement, from municipal to state, tends to take dim view of those sorts of solutions.

So I guess I’m just going to let the landlord know about it when he gets in.

I feel like I need a very hot shower, with lots of disinfectant soap. A few shot’s of high-proof liquor probably wouldn’t hurt none, either.
This evening (Tree Condom Must Go!)

“Tree…condom?” You ask, some slight trepidation in your voice? (If there is no trepidation…there should be; there will be!)

You scratch your head, rolling the idea of a tree condom around for a few before asking the wholly sensible question, “Okay, I maybe see the ‘how,’ but I’m kind of fuzzy on the ‘why.’ Who in the hell puts a condom on a tree?”

Yessss!! That’s (almost) exactly the same question I’ve been asking myself (and, occasionally, my landlord) for the last thirteen days and 12-some-odd hours. “Who in the hell would put a condom on a tree?”

I refer you to my previous entry, above.

“That’s a condom in a tree, you idiot!” You snap angrily. “In. Not on. In!”

Hey! This is what greets me every time I step out onto my patio, right at head height, and you want to quibble about a vowel? In. On. The fact remains that I have to stare at a used condom to enjoy the pleasantly warm/cool late spring mornings and evenings from my patio.

Existentially, the condom is definitely not in the tree; if it were, I wouldn’t see it, hidden under layers of bark and wood. The way it drapes itself arrogantly over the tiny, defiled branch, I think a solid case can be made that the condom is most definitely on the tree.

Poor tree.

I asked my landlord that morning to do something about tree condom. His eyes bugged out of his head, thinking for sure that I was trying to put something over on him.

I showed him Tree Condom.

For the first week, my landlord, when I encountered him, looked at me strangely, smiled nervously, sidled away from me cautiously, and made hasty excuses about having business elsewhere.

For the last week, every time my landlord sees me, he shouts (safely, from a distance) about having to run on some pressing errand, pointing to the nonexistent watch that he doesn’t wear on his wrist, waving vaguely apologetically, and scurrying in the opposite direction from me as fast as his short little legs will carry him.

So the vile task now falls to me, I suppose. I have, for now, ruled out the shotgun. Although, depending upon my impending search(es) through the aisles and bins of the local hardware store for some long, stick-like item I can use to :shudder: snag tree condom from its leafy repose, revisit the idea.

After all, when I have this sitting in my gun safe, why in the name of Jeffrey Lebowski would I risk even the slightest possibility of bringing tree condom into touching proximity of my own body?

I reckon fifteen shots from the Kill-o-nator Splatblaster Gun (plus a few more from reload) should suffice to dispatch of tree condom.

With extreme !@#$%^&? prejudice! And if a few rounds should stray in the general direction of my upstairs neighbor…

Okay! I’ll play by the “civilized” rules and go buy a large stick-like thing from the hardware store!


'Cause I’m not!
Adventures In Stick Shopping

Okay, so even the big-box hardware stores don’t carry really long mechanical hands; I had to settle for an extendable pole for paintbrushes, or some such. I was looking more for reach* than anything, anyway.

However, the light is fading fast from the day, and I don’t think that this is something that should be tackled in the darkness, at least not without backup from Seal Team Six. Besides, it’s occurred to me that I might want to make additional preparations, so I’m heading back out directly to gather reinforcements:

  1. Gallon of bleach (it might come to two before all is said and done);
  2. Large bottle of scotch (ditto);
  3. box of Tyvek suits (full body, with hoody);
  4. goggles;
  5. thick, puncture-resistant rubber gloves.

I already have a decent sized household bucket for the bleach (and the excess scotch my body decides it really doesn’t want to deal with).
*Important note: when buying large-ish/long-ish items from a store, it’s helpful to know in advance whether or not they’re going to actually fit in your car. Having twenty or so feet of a twenty three foot pole sticking out of your sunroof as you drive home down the highway isn’t nearly amusing to the police as I apparently thought it would be as I was hastily concocting my “story” after having been pulled over.

At least Missouri State Highway Patrolman James McMurtree didn’t find it the least bit amusing.

Do NOT destroy the condom.

Get a push pin and affix it to upstairs dipshit’s door.

Preferably after he leaves for an evening and expecting to bring in new talent when he returns.
Should make a fantastic impression on his date.

With a note saying “I had this tested. You’re positive.”

The voices in my head (naturally, they constitute a quorum) approve of these measures. Well, there was one objection, and it was a two-parter:

  1. It hasn’t definitively been proven that it was from my upstairs neighbor; it’s only most likely from him, based upon height and probable trajectory. It could, conceivably, be from the downstairs neighbor, or even the next door neighbor, if some sort of side-arm action was involved in whatever “toss” got Tree Condom up there in the first place.

  2. Anything requiring actual physical contact with Tree Condom, no matter how thick the rubber gloves may be, is right out of the question. I’m willing to risk physical contact with the end of the Very Long Stick, just for however long it takes to get it into a trash bag, and said trash bag to the unit’s dumpster.
    I’m may be willing to soak Mr. Rational Voice-In-My head in Scotch until he shuts the hell up, but then I’m afraid Mr. Hey-Y’all-Let’s-Give-This-Here-Idear-A-Try! will take the floor; I had to override his suggestions of firearm-related resolutions to this situation twice already, and my resolve may not be up to the task much longer.

I generally like that guy, but he’s caused me no end of trouble over the years, and I really can’t afford bail money right now, what with the recent purchases of stick, bleach, alcohol, etc.

Just calm down! It’s a piece of latex with some bodily fluids, not radioactive waste! No mechanical hands required! A simply pair of rubber gloves and a little maturity ought to fix the problem, I should think.

And it’s always pleasing to immediately assign blame, rightly or wrongly, to a person we already dislike due to their proximity alone. Pleasing but not intelligent.

Just pick up the condom , put it in the trash and stop blaming someone you don’t like, ‘just because’, they ARE nearby, after all.

Trying to get it with just a big stick would be like trying to grab something with just your finger tip. If you can, get a broken tree branch from a park, preferably one that doesn’t have leaves but has a lot of “fingers”. This will give you a bigger “hand” with which to snag the condom. Tape it to the long stick, then push it close to the condom and twist to snag it.

(I don’t have a lot of experience – actually, I don’t have any – trying to get a condom out of a tree, but this is somewhat similar to the way Indonesian boys would collect floating kites that had lost the kite battle. They tie a branch to a long bamboo pole and twist it around the string, securely snagging the kite.)

If “Seinfeld” had been broadcast on HBO instead of NBC, this would have been an Emmy-award winning episode.

And all that jazz.

Okay, Tree Condom is vanquished, and it pretty much went according to plan.

A few wrinkles, nothing major.

BobArrgh pretty much nailed the problem with the blunt-ended Very Long Stick, but no matter, getting Tree Condom out of the Tree was objective #1; retrieving Tree Condom with the VLS was a long shot at best.

Once Earth-bound, the Thick Rubber Gloves sufficed to get Ground Condom into the Hefty Trash Bag™ set aside and dedicated solely to this singular, noxious piece of refuse.

With Bucket of Bleach standing ready, decontamination of the TRG’s and VLS could commence. Unfortunately, after I had decontaminated the TRGs and removed them, I then pushed the googles back up on my forehead before starting in on cleansing the business end of the VLS, so some minor irritation of the sinuses was incurred. And a little tearing of the eyes…and there’s some localized burning sensation on my face. Checking the mirror, I see there’s some redness and swelling. I grab the hydro cortisone and apply liberally.

My coffee tastes like bleach for some reason. Good thing I have plenty of Scotch.

After that, it was just a matter of getting the HTB™ to our unit’s dumpster. I notice that my fellow residents are giving me odd looks, when I realize I’m still wearing the Tyvek suit and goggles.

Oh well, I gives a damn. Tree Condom is gone; my coffee tastes like scotch and bleach, which I can live with. I can enjoy the mornings and evening of late spring, unsullied, from my balcony/patio. The hydro cortisone is starting to take effect.

And it’s not my coffee (or scotch) that tastes like bleach so much as that my apartment now smells like the world’s cleanest swimming pool.

ExTank, good sir, while reading your initial post, the adjective Kafkaesque kept going through my head.

You may take that as a compliment!

I reckon that’s about as good a description as any for the whole affair.

I know I said I wasn’t going to get any closer to Tree Condom than absolutely necessary, and refuse to touch it (even with gloves), but the situation, from discovery to disposal, has been one long drawn out “Somebody Else’s Problem,” so I couldn’t just leave it lying there on the ground for someone else to deal with. I figure the bleach was more than sufficient to physically cleanse any necessary physical contact.

That hydro cortisone’s good stuff.

The scotch helped (is helping), too.

That’s not how it’s spelled.