Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It Could be a Genie. Or Not.

For five years, the same piece of trash has sat in my neighbors’ front yard. A bottle. And it’s not a classy bottle, either, like Sapphire Gin or Enjoli Perfume. No. It’s hard to tell because it’s so dirty, but I think it’s fuel additive or brake fluid. Something automotive.

They must know about it. They mow the lawn. The bushes are trimmed, the fence is new, the windows shiny.

Every day, surely, they walk out to the curb to check the mailbox for bills or tax refunds or Valupak coupons, and surely, they see the grimy bottle nestled in the bush at the base of the post. And then they refrain from picking it up.

I itch to make it tidy.

But then I remember the time I found a quartz crystal the size of a mouse at the base of a tree by the road. It must be a sign, I thought! It must be there just for me! So I brought it home. My friends were disgusted. Someone left it there for a reason, they said. It’s a shrine, or an offering or something.

I didn’t care. I put it on my patio. It looked really awesome there. And then, for the next three months until I took that crystal back where I found it, everything in my life…sucked.

So I kind of learned my lesson: don’t mess with stuff. Don’t assume.

A fuel additive bottle seems an unlikely shrine, however, so what else could it be? The possibilities are limited. I have compiled a list:

1.      A genie lives in the bottle. It’s the kind of genie who grants wishes sporadically and always has a sarcastic comment. He smells. He never changes out of his velour pajamas. But he’s useful, so they keep him nearby, but not too close.

2.      Secret messages. In the middle of the night on a new moon, the accomplice creeps out of the darkness to fish slips of paper from the bottle which direct his role in the coming depravity.

3.      A portlock. If you grasp the grimy bottle and say the magic word, it whisks you off to a faraway land where everyone understands how such things work. It is the kind of place with friendly dragons, and all the colors are much richer than in the real world, and people participate in valiant quests that make their lives meaningful.

4.      Sentimental value. “Yes!” she replies to his mumbled proposal, just as he reaches to pick up the piece of litter. He stands, brushing off his knee, and overcome with relief, he says, “Let us keep this here as a symbol of our love.” Secretly, however, he’s superstitious. He’s afraid that if he picks up that grotty bottle now she will realize that he’s not good enough for her and change her mind.

Or not.