Point of View: Worm in the Apple

We tend to drift along dreamily on these night walks

“It’s sooo nice,” the young woman behind the counter at Trish Franey’s liquor store said last Wednesday evening.

“Yes, I think any day the sun shines here is nice — whatever the temperature,” I said. “We were in Palm Desert not long ago and it was hot, but there are so many people, there’s so much traffic, and everyone lives behind walls. . . . There are always worms in the apples.” 

“Maybe a nice day is even more nice because we’ve suffered a bit, not that I’m a great advocate of it,” I said on my way out.

That night the gibbous moon was so bright that I didn’t really need a flashlight when O’en and I went out on our evening constitutional. We could see and be seen amid the branches’ shadows on the penumbral streets.

We tend to drift along dreamily on these night walks. He’s calmer at night, much less inclined than he is during the day to yank, and I’m calmer too, under the moon and stars, just walking long, reminded that we’re earth-bound only in those moments when he takes a dump, the evidence of which, thanks to an inverted blue plastic New York Times wrapper, I deftly erase.

It was not always so. I used blithely to walk on by in the days I walked Henry, O’en’s predecessor, along Main Street, imagining, with a frisson of delight, summer people stepping in it as they alighted at night from the Jitney. Yes, yes, I confess it . . . a wretch, I am a wretch. 

Finally, a librarian who walks back and forth along Main Street every day, as I do, set me straight. And Mary said she was right to do so even as I complained that, boy, did she have some nerve. It was the hygienic thing to do, Mary said. And so I began to pick up after my pets, and have ever since been so attentive in this regard — and thankful for Debbie’s intervention, by the way — that I risk ecstatic sanctimony, to borrow Philip Roth’s pejorative term. 

I must remind myself — a reformed worm in this apple — that I am only human. Walking with O’en under a gibbous moon and the stars inclines me to this conclusion.

And stepping in it at the edge of our lawn drives the point home.