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Synthesis - Columns

From 2008 to 2015 I wrote a weekly column for Synthesis Weekly under the name Zooey Mae. What started as an outlet to review graphic novels and comic books evolved over the years to cover everything from pop culture to whatever menial event was happening in my life. Looking back, I think I spent much too much time regaling Chico with tales of my allergies. 

A Raisin In The Sun

Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: June 2014

Right now I’m sitting on my front stoop looking at dog poop. More precisely, I’m watching a twenty-something woman while she watches her tan and white pit-mix dog take a shit in front of my house. She just turned and saw me. She probably had that eerie feeling that you get when you’re letting your dog shit out all the KFC and MiO flavored water you’ve been feeding it all week in front of a stranger’s house, and then you feel someone watching you not pick it up. This whole scene reminds me of something I read once about bears. Before they hibernate they’ll binge eat, but in addition to their normal fare of fish and berries, they’ll eat mud and small sticks because those form a sort of makeshift forest-buttplug so they won’t soil their favorite fleece-lined sweatpants while they hibernate. (A small part of that fact may be inaccurate.) Anyway, I’m watching as this dog slowly turns inside out with the effort of constructing an impressively stacked monument to the memory of all the Slim Jim’s his strung-out harpy has been shoving down his poor dog throat for the last week. He’s licking his lips as he strains to get all the poison out, his eyes fluttering and one back leg slightly lifted off the ground and shaking—more a vibrato than a trillo. The harpy notices me watching her and her dog. She feigns consternation and loudly exclaims (for my benefit), “Oh damn… I forgot the bags again…”

In my head I yell out, “I have a Hefty bag and a shovel you can borrow!” I don’t actually say that though. She has the sinewy muscles and receded gums of a methamphetamine user. They can be unpredictable. Plus I don’t want to hurt the dog’s feel-bads. Plus I’m not the outspoken type. So instead I meet her over-the-shoulder glance, until she turns around and stares me down with those beady nothing-to-lose eyes. I feel bad for her dog. And for the dead grass in front of my house. And for whatever unlucky loser is going to end up stepping in that dog poop a few weeks from now, when it’s all shriveled up and white from the sun… Wait… I think I just suddenly understood A Raisin In The Sun. In that analogy I think I’d be Mama. The dog would be Walter. And that would make the shit Beneatha.

Dammit. In the time I just spent deciphering the theme of racial discrimination and how it aligns with the stark contrast of the brown of dead grass in front of my house and the otherworldly blue of the poison dog shit, the harpy and her thirty-pounds-lighter dog have sauntered on. Oh well. Hey did you guys hear the one about the guy who walks into a bar? His alcohol dependency is tearing his family apart. (Cue Michigan J Frog dancing out, stage left). “Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gaaaaaal…” 

Arielle Mullen