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Sally’s Story:

I moved in with my Busy and Important boyfriend, the toast of Saratoga Springs, NY. Every day, when we walked his dog downtown, he’d stop and wave and yell at everybody. “Duuuude!” “Word up!” “My man!” (He’s not black, a surfer, or nineteen years old). I’d politely pause while the dog delivered a lawn sausage under the nearest hosta plant.”Aren’t you going to clean that up?” I asked innocently. He looked at me with daggers in his eyes. “Well, aren’t YOU Miss Perfect? No, I am not going to clean it up. Don’t make every single daily activity a chore for me. Besides, this is good fertilizer.””No it’s not,” I rejoined, feeling, um, slightly…off-kilter. What the hell was this? “There are microbes in dog manure that are very bad for people.””Nonsense,” he retorted, red-faced, and on we went. Every day, it was the same thing. So I bought a box of Baggies and stuffed my pockets with them. “You do what you want when you’re alone,” I explained. “But if I’m gonna walk with you, someone’s going to clean up after the dog, and I don’t mind if it’s me.” I got used to the sensation of the steamy little mound in my palm, insulated with plastic. The nearest garbage can, and out it went. Voilà.I didn’t realize, of course, that one of the things I had said had offended him: somehow the idea of dog-doo being unhealthy rankled him. After all, it was his dog, wasn’t it? It shits in four ice cream flavors. Maybe that was the rationale. There was always dog mess in our driveway. He was constantly stepping in it and tracking it all over the kitchen. So stay with me—Months later, many months, I took off to visit a friend in the City, packing a toothbrush as I left. It was an airline toothbrush, the kind with a plastic hat on it that snaps shut. A hat to keep it clean. I kept the toothbrush in a basket under the sink where my extra hair conditioner and scrunchies also lived. Good place to keep things. Right? Right.Next day, I came back from my trip, feeling funny. Feeling really funny. I felt downright feverish when I got into bed. I felt like a fried clam, in fact. And within an hour, I was cramped and sweaty. I shook, I shivered, I curled up next to him for warmth. Periodically, I’d get up and go to the bathroom, a noisily embarrassing experience. Could this be food poisoning? I didn’t think so. I’d had food poisoning. This was an intestinal microbe, all right, but one with a difference.All week long, bathroom trips. I went all liquid inside. Couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink coffee. I had him buy me a case of Ensure. I wore two pairs of underwear to bed with my PJs. And somehow—I’ll be darned if I can remember how the information bubbled up—he mentioned the toothbrush.It was just a junk toothbrush, he said. “Really?” I replied, startled. “How is that?””It was in that basket of trash under the sink,” he said.”That’s not trash.””Of course it’s trash. It’s trash. It’s nothing but trash.””Those are cosmetics. Cosmetics aren’t trash.””Well, it looks like trash to me.”Trash toothbrush is excellent for undoing the damage of the careless doggie in the driveway. My beau had cleaned his shoes with it. Washed it off, put it back in the plastic container, returned it to the basket, and it went to New York with me and then into my mouth.So he tested my theory and proved me right: lawn sausages are full of microbes that can make people very sick. Like Giardia.Eat Shit and Die! I guess that was the message.I ate shit and lived.And left.

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