Other People’s Lakes.

Imagine a still clear blue lake. Barely a ripple mars the surface. A bird dips under the thin film of the surface for fish, a turtle bobs along near the bank, and though stones jut into it’s edges, and the seasons come and go, nothing much ever changes. No invaders have found this lake. No one walks it’s banks who has not been invited. This lake is not my life.

My lake formed and filled and immediately a huge boat run through it leaking oil and gasoline into the water. My lake had trash thrown into it’s previously clean expanses, and the thick limbs of swimmers passed through it without asking permission, expelling fluids and wastes, sun lotion and sweat as they churned up the water. My lake was invaded by alien species which sucked the life out of the good flora and fauna. The banks of my lake were not sturdy and private, but crumbled under the load of too many uninvited feet walking along them.

Of course, said the peanut throwing monkeys who lived near the clear lake, of course you must take personal responsibility for the state of your waters! You must clean up the spills, and shore up the banks. You must draw your boundaries and tell the swimmers they may not swim there. You must make yourself less inviting. You are allowing this to happen. The monkeys install a banner that reads “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN UNHAPPINESS” right across the southern boundary, just on your side of the dividing line between them and you.

You briefly consider an answer to their assertion, that you are at fault for your own misery and the misfortune that befell you. You consider all kinds of slogans. “Water Rights! No Fights!” “See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Speak No Evil”. You even consider a nod to Orwell “Four Legs Bad” just to throw them off the scent while you think of something useful to say. Instead you trudge out, past the discarded bottles, the shards of glass, the plastic waste and the dog walkers, out to the most southern perimeter, and you pluck the sign from your soil, cut off the last four words, turn it around so it faces the other way, and plant it back on their side of the fence. You take the unhappiness with you and have a bonfire.

This proves to be a bad idea. The peanut throwing monkeys are incensed. How dare you change the words! It is wrong that you put the sign on our side of the boundary! They invade your territory and throw feces in the lake just to get their point across.

The lake has grown green with algae, and the turtles look sick. You start to pick them up and move them out of the lake. They cannot stay here, it is toxic. The fish bob up to the surface dead and dying. A thick chemical foam, yellow and pink tinged starts to wash ashore.

You decide that enough is enough. The swimmers have to go. You jump into your boat, it leaks and only has one oar, and row out to confront them with a harpoon. Barbed words are exchanged as you attempt to expel them. Some one on a further shore yells encouragement to you. “Grey Rock! Be a Grey Rock!” Holding up a sign that explains these invaders leave if you ignore them, or at least lose some of their power, you wonder why you should waste energy on such an endeavor, but comply. Some of them drift away yelling insults as they find another pond to swim in. One man, his cock and balls swinging heavily as he stands up in the water yowls “CALL ME MA’AM!” You laugh nervously as he charges towards you, demanding to know where the ladies bathroom is. You direct him towards the peanut throwing monkeys but it is just not good enough for him. Iron Ma’am is intent. He wants in your bathroom and no other facility will do. He just wants to pee, he declares. If not he will sue, or at least piss in your water. Barging past you into your bathroom, you hear the sounds of immense pleasure emanating from the stall nearest the door. These sounds increase in intensity, as you wait for him to finish peeing and leave. It takes him about twenty minutes to drain his lizard. He then appears wearing your best frock and Dolly Parton’s wig. It would be funny, but instead you are left feeling violated.

Going into your bathroom, the walls are splattered with jizz. He has left a message on the mirror written in lipstick – a garish red that doesn’t suit his pale skin – it reads “I am a woman.” You collect the hazmat suit you keep for such eventualities and get to scrubbing.

You would try to dredge the lake, but you are out of energy, you don’t have the money to attempt to fix the damage others have done, and you suspect the invaders would be back to fuck it up again if you even tried. Despite that you pick up the glass and the cans, the shit and the junk. You start to clear the algae, and pepper spray the swimmers. The lake looks clearer. There is bluer sky.

As the last of the butterfly strokers hauls themselves out of your water, they declare, ‘you made some mistakes here huh. You really fucked up Eden. Your bad choices, led to your downfall.” You kick him in the nuts and watch him drown as the light falls.

You finally found a slogan: Stay in Your Own Lake, Motherfuckers. You like it. It has a certain gracefulness, so you make up an iron brand with it, and stick it in the fire. This taking responsibility thing sure is fun.

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