It was a warm, lazy Saturday afternoon. I was lying on the living-room floor at my girlfriend’s house, watching a movie on TV.
Joanne, my girlfriend, lived in a manufactured home that she rented from her parents. Even though it was cramped inside and out — with tiny rooms and minuscule front and back yards — it was nicer to hang out there than at my one-bedroom hovel of an apartment. (She had a wider variety of food in the pantry, too.)
Joanne walked into the living room, holding a laundry basket. “Peter, can you do me a favor?”
I mumbled incoherently, trying to sound as noncommittal as possible. She had a businesslike tone, which meant she wanted to put me to work.
“The neighbor’s dog pooped on the gravel outside, and I’m afraid one of us is going to step in it,” Joanne said. “Would you mind going out and shoveling it into the ditch?”
“But I’m in the middle of a movie,” I said, motioning to the television. “Can’t it wait until the commercials?”
Joanne frowned. “These are the commercials.”
“Right, but they’re halfway through. I don’t want to be walking out when the movie comes back on.”
“How long’s the movie?”
“With the commercials, probably another two hours.”
“What if I taped it for you?” Joanne asked. “Then you’d be guaranteed not to miss anything.”
“Would you edit out the commercials for me?” I asked.
“Go shovel the poop!” Joanne screamed.