We also got a huge, empty field that our big dogs could cavort on at 6 AM on the weekends. The school was almost never locked, and no one else was up at that hour. I brought a chucker. The dogs had a blast chasing the ball, each other, and birds.
But there’s a problem with an unlocked school. Even though it’s a misdemeanor, teens would sneak into the school at night. And by sneak, I mean park at our house with their radios blaring, bottles clinking, skateboards clattering, and mouths yelling.
At first, Andy and I were good little citizens, calling the local police department and letting them know when kids were sneaking into the school after dark.
The officer on the local desk always assured me they would send someone to “check it out.”
They never did.
Not even when I reported kids LIGHTING A GODDAMNED CAMPFIRE on the roof. Yes, a fire. In Southern California, tinderbox central, where building codes don’t even allow wood fireplaces anymore.
Maybe the police thought I was joking. Luckily, the teens weren’t Boy Scouts and their fire petered out. I had my hose ready, though, just in case.
The one time the police did show up, someone else must’ve called. I don’t know what the caller said, but the police pulled their guns on a bunch of tweens armed with nothing more than streamers (the middle schoolers were decorating for spirit week). The kids were traumatized. Their white parents went ballistic. The police were unrepentant. My LAPD neighbor said the kids were lucky they hadn’t sent in a K9 unit.
After that, I quit calling the police. No kid should get shot for skateboarding, let alone streamers.
Every summer, we ignored loud teens and even louder illegal fireworks.
When the school was renovated, however, the construction company locked up everything, including the fields. My dogs and I were sad.
So were the neighborhood teens when confronted with padlocked fences, although some of the younger, more athletic kids still made it into the school.
The drunk alumni?
Not so much.
Instead, they sat on the curb, or in their cars next to my house. Sometimes I’d yell at them to turn down the music.
Sometimes they complied and slunk away.
Sometimes they yelled back, then peeled out as soon as they saw a light go on and watched me pick up the phone and loudly say, “I’d like to report a disturbance—”
Perhaps they remembered the trigger-happy police and the spirit week streamers.
One hot summer night, I woke up when I heard a bunch of 18-20 somethings realize they couldn’t get into the school.
“Dude!” one moaned. “I really gotta pee.”
“There’s some trees over there,” said another.
I was out of bed in seconds, peering out the window. He was talking about MY trees.
“The trees are right under the streetlight,” argued the apparently modest Pee-pee Boy. He staggered up my lawn instead, heading for the flowerbeds while fumbling with his zipper.
“Oh, hell, no!” I hissed. “Fey, Woofie, come!” Fey was an obedient German Shepherd mix who lived to protect her turf. She wouldn’t bite a human, but she had no problem chasing skateboarders and would-be burglars off her property. Woofie was a giant, blackish Labrador mix — utterly harmless, but scary looking.
I yelled, “I’m releasing the hounds. You’d better run!”
Either they didn’t believe me or alcohol had hampered their reaction time. Nobody moved.
So I opened the door. Fey charged, scattered the guys on my front steps with a snarl. Woofie made a beeline for Mr. Pee-pee Boy, who was about to urinate on the side of my house.
Alas for him.
Woofie had a special greeting for all men. He made a beeline for their crotch. Unless blocked, Woofie would shove his giant head right into the male’s scrotum. Then he’d flip his head back. I once watched him do this to an unwary college kid at the dog park. The guy nearly folded in half. But as soon as he caught his breath, he called Woofie over to meet a guy friend and then laughed his head off when Woofie rammed his buddy in the balls. (Guys are weird like that.)
Mr. Pee-pee Boy’s open fly looked like an open invitation to Woofie. Woofie undoubtedly thought, “Yes! Finally someone gets me!!” as he raced to say hello. He never even tapped his brakes.
Pee-pee Boy yelled, doubled over, fell over, and rolled down the hill. Woofie followed, prancing excitedly with – and possibly over – his new friend.
I collared Woofie, giving Mr. Pee-pee Boy (and his dangling member) a chance to scramble to his feet and escape. Hunched over, he staggered after his fleeing friends. “Wait! Wait! I think I peed myself!”
He peed more than himself. Woofie had to have a midnight bath, and since my husband was still snoring, I had to do the honors.
But that’s all right.
Woofie and I both thought it was totally worth it.