One of the many blessings of living in an urban environment means that you can expect to encounter a plethora of bodily functions in your daily routine. Indeed, in such a great concrete (or shall I say cobblestone) jungle such as Florence, it’s only a matter of time before you stumble upon the phenomenon known as….the Phantom Pooper.
Now, you might not have known much about the Phantom Pooper before moving to such a cultured and relevant city as Firenze, but that’s probably because you were too busy marveling at the beautiful architecture and incredible artworks that line the streets of Florence. Imagine my surprise, in fact, upon living in this cosmopolitan city for nearly 5 years before encountering the Phantom, after which I unfortunately never fully recovered. Let me explain more in detail my first encounter with this ungodly creature, which I remember all too well…
It was a bright and shiny Monday in the springtime of 2014, the kind of Monday that makes you want to accomplish things like exercising, or calling your mother-in-law to prove what a kind, selfless humanitarian you are. The birds were singing in the trees and the Arno river rats were lazily paddling back and forth across the great expanse of water stretching between Ponte Santa Trinita & Ponte Carraia as I snapped the leash onto my trusted companion, Zola, and stepped outside that fateful morning. As per her usual morning jaunts, Zola promptly lowered her nose to the ground and began her normal Hoovering of the scents left behind by passing sneakers and paws. We rounded the corner of our building only to find the grotesque calling card of the Phantom Pooper on our doorstep.
Lying there in all its glory was a glistening brown turd of magnificent proportions. In the mid-morning sun, it had obviously started out as a cresting mountain of epic poo-portions, only to have slowly begun its sweating descent into the cracks of the pavement surrounding it. Only a few feet away, an empty Malibu rum bottle and half-drunk Coca Cola sat forgotten and forlorn in the corner, a sad memory of what had probably been an epic Florentine night of debaucherous behavior.
Gagging to myself, I swore as I pulled Zola away from the half-melted pile of shit on my doorstep. Indeed a Monday unlike any other, I found myself thankful that by the time I had returned home, all traces of the Phantom Poo had vanished into a streak of soapy water splashed along the sidewalk.
Alas, today marked the return of the Phantom Pooper to my neighborhood, although today’s mark was left in a spot more inconspicuous than last week’s signature. All signs point to an obvious culprit, yet the police are at a loss for who to blame in this unsolved mystery. And so I must concede another victory to you, Phantom Pooper, for sufficiently branding your name into my consciousness so indelibly that I am unlikely to ever recover from our brief encounters. May we never, ever meet again.