I’m on a roll

This probably labels me forever as a grouch and curmudgeon, but so be it. Tee peeing irritates me.  My house won’t be featured on any local “Home Walk,” but I try my best to keep the place neat enough to remain in the good graces of my neighborhood. Yet every autumn I come home some night, or perhaps two nights, or perhaps several, to find my yard and trees vandalized with two-ply toilet tissue. I can jerk down the low-hanging strands but the TP in the upper regions must remain there, providing a not-so-lovely accompaniment to the fall colors. The worst part is that my neighbors must suffer the blow-over factor as their yards are also adorned with the stringy stuff. 

I suppose this comes with the job of being a former teacher in our district, but what irritates me the most is that I’m quite certain that my yard is messed up annually by the same little rascals who stop at my house first to sell their volleyball fundraising candy, their football discount cards, their PTO knickknacks, and their magazine subscriptions. “Let’s stop at his house because he always buys, “ and I do, followed by “Now let’s go mess up his yard tonight.”

And when you live in a community where the school’s homecoming is separated by two weeks by the celebration of Halloween, you get a constant string of …well…strings. 

I was no angel when I was growing up and I’ve yet to attain that status, but in my little community we never ruined the look of our neighbors’ autumn colors with ribbons of Charmin bathroom tissue. Maybe we were backward. Maybe we couldn’t afford the toilet paper. Maybe we were considerate. 

The lady who works as a secretary for Beard Implement down the street from me offered to sit in my yard at night wearing camouflage, shotgun in hand. She got married in a camo wedding dress so I’m sure she has something appropriate for every season. I thanked her for the offer but declined since in addition to strings of wet toilet paper I’d then have blood all over my sidewalk. Blood is harder to pick up. 

The guy who mows my yard tells me I should buy a “deer cam,” a device made to take pictures of deer while you’re sleeping I guess, although I have no idea why you’d want to do such a thing. I checked on Amazon and deer cameras start at around $75 bucks and run all the way into the many hundreds, but even if I was able to identify my vandals I’m not sure it would do any good.  The practice of tee peeing is widely accepted in our community and perhaps yours, so many parents are well aware of what little Bubba and his Bubb-ish pals are doing when they leave the house late at night with their arms full of toilet paper. Perhaps mommy and daddy just assume that little Junior has a profound problem with his bowels, but I somehow doubt this. 

A local mother once told me that I should be flattered, because in her words, “They only do it to teachers they like.” Really? They pass by the lawns of teachers whom they don’t care for and mess up the yards of their favorite mentors? This convoluted thinking smacks of the logic behind our new Common Core curriculum. 

Perhaps I should just give up trying to fight the flood of tissue since the whole idea of trick or treat is based around extortion, “Give me candy or I’ll tear something up.” One year, just be perverse, when the little goblins came to my door shouting, “Trick or Treat!” I simply answered, “Trick!”  They stood and stared at me. “Okay, here’s your candy.” 

You can usually tell where they got their rolls of destruction. Two-ply means they bought it from a convenience store with their own money. If you got out in the morning and find four-play toilet paper in your trees you can bet that Mommy will need to make a trip to the store today to replenish the family stockade. 

Of course the most common response in most communities is, “Oh just be quiet and get over it. Clean up the mess and accept it as a part of our tradition.” In Salem, Massachusetts, they used to burn witches as a part of their cultural heritage. I wonder which of my little yard-messing darlings would like to volunteer to take part in the return of that lovely part of our history. 

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About the author

Ken Bradbury is an adjunct instructor of theatre at LLLC after retiring from Triopia. He entertains on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat and is the author of over 300 published plays. Website: creativeideas.com

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