Saturday, August 08, 2009

Footloose and fancy-free? Not so much

“And stay away from the lakes,” the HOA orientation woman, says. “It may not look like it, but there’s gators in there.”

The orientation group stares at her with our mouths half-open.

“Oh yeah,” she says. “We just pulled out a seven-footer last week.” A seven-foot alligator. Living fifty feet from my brand-new home.

“And because it’s been exposed to humans, they euthanize them.” Gator, euthanized, for living in my lake. “It’s done humanely by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Well, actually, they contract it out to someone, but anyway. Once they’ve been around humans, they can’t be rehabilitated.” She pauses. “And don’t forget, all the lakes are interconnected through underground systems, so don’t think there aren’t gators in your lake. Believe me, they’re there.”

“Gators?” a shaky woman asks.

“You can’t see ‘em, but they’re there, believe me.”

Am I scared? Horrified? Both? I shoot a look at Matthew and mouth “OMG,” meaning, “freakin seven-foot alligators fifty feet from our brand new home.”

A friend told us, “If you walk the nature trails, your dog will get fleas and ticks. Oh, and so will you.” But, the realtor had us believing in the recreational possibilities of our dog walks on the nature trail. That’s bunk too?

The HOA woman tells us, “And the snakes on the nature trails—let me tell you that I don’t walk the nature trails. Moccasins, cotton mouths, Southeastern rattlesnakes….” I shoot another look at Matthew. He looks kinda blank.

“I tell you, one time, I was in my golf cart, and there was a moccasin right in my path. He was mean, they’ll strike unprovoked, and he was lookin at me,” she trailed off. “I turned around and went another way.”

Tick infestations, alligators, vicious snakes, what sinister place have we moved into?

“And if you get a flat tire on your bicycle on the nature trail at night, don’t feel around for it. There could still be a snake tooth in there.”

Me, terrified, “Do bear bells work?”

The whole room turns to look at me like I’ve just appeared from outer space. “You know, bear bells. You wear them in the woods. The bears hear the bells and are afraid that something’s in their area so they hide. Bear bells?” Everyone turns back to HOA lady.

“Well I’ve never heard of that, and I have no idea.”

The sheriff, who’s been silently sitting at a desk the whole time says, “I’ve never heard of it, but I wouldn’t trust it. Just don’t walk those trails after night.”

We leave, afraid of ponds and nature trails. I thought, “If I stay away from the ponds—which I had no intention of visiting in the first place—I’m pretty safe from alligators. I doubt they’ll come as far as our house exploring out of the water.” Much later I think, “Reptiles are cold-blooded. Are snakes really striking wayward bicyclists on trails at night?” I’m not a fish and wildlife expert, but I am confused. And ticks? I used to be a nature-hiker (remember the bear bells?); I’ve had enough ticks in my life to know how to get rid of them, and I’ve seen enough Discovery Channel horror stories to know what Lyme Disease looks like. No, I’m not out of the woods, but at least I feel a little better.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Dripping to the top

Tonight, I went to Blockbuster for a really bad movie. Matthew’s out of town, so I have guilt-free anonymous liaisons with trash media, then never tell anyone but the internet about it. Fortunately, this is a blog. No one reads blogs anymore, right? Just Twitter?

Anyway, I’m at Blockbuster picking up a Lindsay Lohan straight to DVD movie when I realize I have to pee. Pretty bad. But I’ve used Blockbuster’s bathroom before, and, I gotta tell ya, I’m plannin on holdin it til I get back to the house. It’s not like Blockbuster’s bathrooms are gross or anything, it’s just that it’s a *huge* production. I mean, first you have to ask at the desk, and they oh-so surreptitiously announce it over the intercom that a manager needs to let a customer into the bathroom. Just in case you don’t feel embarrassed yet, you have to stand around waiting for someone with the keys while that whole, long, Friday night check-out line stares at you. Makes you feel real classy.

But the Blockbuster pee party doesn’t end there. Not only is a key-holding manager necessary to let you in, but they stand there and guard the door after you go in. Process that. You’re peeing. A Blockbuster employee is on the other side of the door waiting for you. Which is more humiliating? The peeing or pee-observing? I really don’t want to find out from experience because I’ve got to say that pee observation sounds hand’s down more humiliating than being spied on. And what do they think I’m doing in there? If I were desperate enough to go through all this pee-drama, I can assure you that I’m there on serious business.

Blockbuster. Friday night. Bad movie. I *will not* pee in Blockbuster. I *will not* pee in Blockbuster. I can totally hold it til I get home.


Half-way to my car, I realize that this is probably not going to go according to plan, but I am determined that I am not turning around and going into Blockbuster. I, Christine Wy, am going to make it home. No. No I’m not. OK, there’s a decent gas station really close by, I’ll just duck in there.

I headed to the bathroom. I could hear flushing sounds, so I knew someone was in there, and I figured I wouldn’t have long to wait for her to come out. Not long enough. Immediately after the flush, the door opened, and out walked an attractive young woman. “Oh my god, she didn’t wash her hands!” was my first thought, being a germ-obsessed weirdo. Ew. Now, being skeptical of her hygiene, I decided to check the toilet seat to see if she had peed all over it—I absolutely loathe seat pee-ers. Yup. The non-hand-washing attractive woman had peed all over it. Dammit.

I weighed my options. Wipe the seat and sit, or perch and add my own spray to the Pollack-speckled seat? I opted for perch.

Relieved of my troubles, literally, I realized to my horror that now someone else was standing outside the bathroom waiting to use it. Oh no! Now this stranger is going to think I peed all over the seat, when really it was a whole urine chain of events that were now completely out of my control!

I did what any level-headed gas station restroom user would do: I tore off extra toilet paper and wiped down the seat. I cared enough what a gas station stranger using the restroom after me would think that I actually wiped down her throne. I’m ashamed, sad, and confused, but that lady will always think, “What a clean, attractive young woman that was peeing before me!