Snap, Crackle, Pop
Snap, Crackle, Pop
My apartment is one of four units. My unit is in the back. To get to my unit, you have to take the sidewalk to the left of the building. There are vines on both sides of the walk that cover the ground with green in the summer just as the snow covers the ground with white in the winter.
On the left, the vines and weeds lead to the next house that comes with a yard and two dogs that will bark at you as you walk by, and then some. As if the poor puppies think that I might change my mind once I’m inside, they give me a few more barks and a dirty growl even after I’ve gone inside and shut the door. I tell myself it’s for good measure, and to keep their masters safe probably. I also tell myself that it’s fucking annoying. They’re cute though.
On the right is my building. Home. Sorta. The building’s made to withstand the huffing and puffing of a wolf with solid red brick from bottom to top. It’s also covered vertically in the same vines that cover the ground. Timeless. Pretty.
My bedroom is the window just a few feet above my front door. I have a fine view of a few trees, the beginning of the path that leads to the street, and the barking hounds that are always on guard. It’s nice to know that no one can sneak down the path without the dogs giving a warning to everyone within a block’s radius. It’s still fucking annoying. It’s safer though.
Next door is a group of college boys. They also live in the rear, and their front door is just beside my own. I see them whenever I enter or exit my apartment. They get high and barbecue a lot. But in the winter they’re sober as I am and ski the Utah mountains more than anyone I’ve even heard of. They’re kind and nice and friendly. Loud on weekends. But they at least try to study on weekdays. With summer here though, it’s just weed and hotdogs.
Even now in the summer months when temperatures reach triple digits, the trees and vines keep the path cool. There is one of those motion-sensitive lights for the walkway located halfway between the front road and the entrance to my apartment. I imagine it’s to keep burglars away and also to light up the path for the tenants that live on the sides or rear of the building like me and those college kids. (Maybe it’s for the dogs to better see people to bark and growl at.) Every time I walk by at the very very end of the day, the burglar bulb lights up so that I can see the walkway start to collect moisture. And then it also reveals a completely damp walk with the occasional worm in the early early mornings.
What’s not occasional at these wet times are the numerous snails that make their way back and forth across the walk. . . Or maybe they only cross the walk once. I don’t know. I’ve no way to prove that I’ve seen the same snail crossing the path twice or more. There could be some one cross per snail rule, I dunno.
The burglar light does not turn on for the snails though. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re too small or if it’s because they’re just too damn slow. Anyway. So in the early mornings when I’m stepping out to head to work (which happens to be a coffee shop, so dark mornings are common for me) the motion-sensitive light does not come on until I’m near it, that is, the light doesn’t turn on until I’m already halfway down the path. That means that I have to cross about 50% of the sidewalk in the darkness before the light is cued. And that means that for 50% of the path, snails are like little invisible land mines, silently wondering if they’re feeling lucky.
This is a tough situation for me. Every morning. Tough.
And apparently it’s not just tough for me. One night I was laying down ready to watch some GOT before I fell asleep when I heard my neighbors, the college boys, talking outside. They were grilling burgers. It smelled good. One of them said, “You know, I keep stepping on those snails. I feel bad, but then, like, there are so many of those fuckers. It’s like.” Having felt some of the same thoughts, I listened for him to continue. However, I soon realized that “It’s like,” was supposed to be a full sentence that accomplished expressing exactly how he felt about the situation. Perhaps, I wondered, maybe I missed a head being shaken or arms being flung into the air in overwhelming surrender. It was possible I missed some vital visuals.
I thought about it, adding my own lines to his sentiment of (perhaps?) defeat:
It’s like every time we take a step, to go on a walk, to go see our boyfriends and girlfriends, to go to class, to go to work, to check the mail, or to come home from any of these daily activities. . . we are killing lives. Lives that were created by other lives. And we were killing them. It’s not even a war where we are trying to kill them for a cause we think is worth fighting for. We’re literally just walking along, whistle whistle, step step, and DEATH! DESTRUCTION! FAMILIES DESTROYED! LIVES LOST!
There are about 5 steps of stairs just outside my front door that lead right down onto the pathway that leads right onto the street. The snails are never hanging out on the steps. Of course they’re not, snails aren’t Utahns; they don’t climb up everything they see. After the steps however, it’s like an escargo lover’s dream.
I always try to lift my feet quickly and lower them slowly to avoid any unnecessary death. Though I’m sure it could just as well be compared to the sound of hollow, giant-sized Rice Krispies being crushed between the cavitied teeth of a 10 year old, the sound of a snail shell cracking, I’ve found, sounds unbelievably similar to the same sound my heart makes when it hears the word “No.”
Friends, I don’t like that sound.
I don’t think anyone would really believe how many snails are on this path at 5:30 in the morning besides my college boy neighbors. Believe me, I’ve thought about waking my boyfriend up to come and see the crowds, but he’d probably just break up with me. I’ve let him see too much of my crazy already. . .
But the number of these slimy slimmering creatures is… astounding! It’s really as if a world war occurs every sunrise between the snails of the East and the snails of the West. Snail soldiers leave their sweethearts back in the vines and charge forward in the front lines at a speed just fast enough they don’t start sliding backwards. It’s that or snails just party outside until the break of dawn every damn day. Whatever event you think would be greater in numbers, that’s what’s happening with the snails!
Most days I take my phone out and turn on the flashlight feature to light up my way. I wield my phone’s light down onto the glossy shell-speckled trail and play a cautious game of hopscotch until the burglar light senses my presence and awakens. Those days, I don’t even come close to stepping on the shell of one little snail!
. . . But sometimes I’m running late for work.
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