The last we heard, I bought some pepper spray in case a questionable person, place or thing showed up while walking my dogs, Bitsy Boo and Mookie Moo. And one soon did in the form of a neighborhood child's aunt.
I'd met the boy in my pre-pepper spray days and knew him to be kind, smart and affable. The problem was that he came from a family of alcoholics and drug users, including his mother who was taken away for drugs, so the county placed him with his father, a meth addict. When the county messes up, they don't fool around.
As a one-time teacher, I became concerned when he told me he didn't think he was very smart and I noticed he was withdrawing from the other kids. So I mentioned this to his father and told him I could get counseling referrals if he wanted because I know how hard it is being without a mother and all. He said they'd already gone for counseling, though it didn't help much and started filling me on on his carnal expertise before driving off. Thank you very much.
Two weeks later, I see the boy's crazy aunt prancing around my building as I am taking my dogs out for their afternoon constitution. Her hair is long and stringy, her skin is pink and puffy and her clothes don't match. She needs a makeover, but I keep my opinions to myself as I descend the back steps.
I open the gate and hear: "You said my nephew has problems," which is already a misquote, but I keep any corrections to myself as well because I don't think she is interested in hearing any.
Not wanting to be on the same sidewalk with her let alone the same planet, I keep walking and lay my hands on pepper. For a while, it was just me, the spray and the dogs who have no idea what it going on because their main goals are finding food, chasing animals and other dog-like activities.
I walk to the end of the building and see her friend who is yelling at me to mind my own business. One thing is clear: They are both higher than a NASA space shuttle.
A neighbor pokes his head through the gates of the garage and tells them to bugger off. The mail lady stops sorting the mail and starts yelling at them as well.
Being lost in the ozone, the friend comes after me like a B-level boxer. The power surges through my veins, and I pull out my beloved pepper and let her have it squarely on the jaw.
I realize that this isn't what the manufacturers had in mind because she didn't even flinch, swear or say "ouch," so I thought the canister had expired.
But it was because of some technical glitches on my end. I didn't know that it is better to shake it every-so-often, and I thought that hitting anywhere on the old epiderm would be as good as the eyes or nasal region. The lady at the store told me that a person's skin would turn black from the stuff, so I waited for her skin to change color, but it never did.
But something must have worked because, they walked down the street, never to be seen or heard from in these parts again.
As for me, I learned some things from this. One is that properly used pepper spray can be a real friend at times, that some neighbors do care about one another, and that some mail carriers do more than deliver the mail and deserve a twenty-dollar tip at Christmas rather than the popcorn kit I gave last year.
But most important I learned the art of perusing any directions beforehand and not listening to every base salary sales clerk in a sporting goods store.