Secret Backyard Society revealed at 3 a.m.

This column appeared in the Hastings Tribune on May 10, 2010.

If I were interesting enough to attract paparazzi, they’d make a fortune selling pictures taken surreptitiously at 3 a.m. over my backyard fence. There they’d find me standing on my patio, bedraggled and bleary-eyed, in scary-ugly pajamas, waiting for dogs to answer nature’s call.

Thinker and Dude are the canine dictators of the Schlueterville compound. Their servants, Hunka Burnin’ Hubby and me, tend to their midnight whims to avoid unwanted “gifts” on the rug, a shredded couch, or cops knocking at the door.

We should have known better, but in the same year we sent our youngest son to college we bought not one, but two high-energy Llewellin Setter pups. We’ve rarely slept through a single night since.

Thinker is quick and strategic. He knows there’s a warm bed waiting, so he takes care of business and makes a beeline for the door. If I’m not there to open it for him, he does it himself. If Thinker were human, he’d be a rocket scientist or a jewel thief. Dude savors the experience, digging holes by moonlight, dining on turf, and checking for scofflaws or killer cheetahs. He heads inside only when I lose patience, wig out, and screech incoherently. If Dude were human, he’d be a champion snowboarder or a stunt pilot.

I try to understand what all the fuss is about. I note the industrial hum of local manufacturing and utility plants, owls hooting in a neighborhood pine, and the lonely trucker passing through town on his way to who knows where. The moon throws horror movie shadows. The breeze smells of dirt and ozone and leaves. And you know, exactly what is that weird pile of schmutz by the gate — hey, wait a minute! Stop the madness! DUDE! GET YOUR BUNS IN THE HOUSE, NOW!

I wonder if there are other late night dwellers standing outside in their underwear, waiting for Poopsie, or Chop Sticks, or Bowser to take pity on dog-tired souls. Perhaps we could form a secret society. We’d dig holes in the turf and check for outlaws, and toss our heads and howl to the moon. Fellow dwellers could answer with a feral yip and a snarl. It might be fun, at least until annoyed neighbors called the cops or launched a shoe over the fence.

So move over Lindsay Lohan. Step aside green aliens and 500-pound babies. There’s new competition for tawdry pictures in super market tabloids. The next time I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, I’ll scan their covers for a woman who looks a lot like me.

Tamera Schlueter

Tam Schlueter adopts a "strike-fast-and-keep-them-laughing" approach to writing. Her column appears every Thursday in the Hastings Tribune, and showcases the wonder of family, dogs, muscle cars, and folks with blue collars and no-nonsense attitudes.

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