garbage-day

Something Else About Garbage

The temperature was approaching one hundred degrees when that crazy hobo stumbled in front of my house and threw his jacket on the ground. He was swearing about a Japanese Invasion when he stopped, put his hands on his knees and bent over to catch his pickled breath. He’s not made many good decisions in his life, but he made one that day. He stood up straight and shouted, “fuck you Tokeeeeeeyooooo!” to no one in particular, just before letting his puffy, filthy, sweat soaked ski jacket to fall to the scorched earth of my front yard. I’m not sure where he went after that but I’m certain he was more comfortable without his ski jacket.
I stepped off the bus home from work, hours later, and rounded the corner of my block at the hottest part of the day. I cooed at my house. Hello beautifu—and the jacket leapt out rudely in the manner of a graphic billboard advertising something rude, like human butts. “HERE ARE SOME HUMAN BUTTS. JUST LOOK AT THESE BUTTS.” I squinted at the lumpy mass of 80s-cool ski jacket, certain it was a shadow, because your mind tells lies when reality hiccups. A friend once told a story about living through the San Francisco earthquake of 1989, when at 5:04 pm local time on October 17, the San Andreas Fault shook sixty three people to death. He was in his bedroom when the city trembled around him and he was convinced that his older brother was somehow shaking the roof, just to fuck with him. He shouted, “Ted! Quit it! You’re really freaking me out!” as a freeway on the other side of town was collapsing. Me, I live alone, so I whispered, “that’s a shadow” when I saw the jacket, because I definitely didn’t leave a brightly colored dead animal on my front lawn that morning.

Moments later I saw it was a jacket and then I was standing over it, the odors of a thousand miles washing over me. I pinched a very small, unstained corner and lifted the jacket with my outstretched arm. I said “WOO” in a way that would signal to prying neighbors that this thing, this ripe hoboskin, was definitely not mine. I was disgusted. Shocked. Worried about dropping property values, worried about disease. Did this jacket have the bird flu? I was parading it towards the garbage can, visualizing opening the lid, when I noticed that the pockets of this jacket were bulging. And one of those pockets was unzipped.

Now I’m not going to say that I love interesting garbage, but I will say that I heart it. I heart interesting garbage. And that’s why, just steps from making the good decision to drop this jacket into Thursday’s garbage, I instead turned it upside down and shook it like Ted shook the Oakland Bay Bridge. Following is an ordered list of what fell out:

Deodorant
Small bag of snack mix
Four rubber bands
Bottle cap
An entire European porn magazine, ripped into several thousand small pieces

On cue, a strong northeastern breeze swept my driveway to scatter ripped up hobo porn across my property, confetti from a Porntown Founder’s Day ticker tape parade. I dropped the jacket and grabbed frantically at the printed sex that was skittering in the general direction of a nearby elementary school. I got a handful of threesome in the first grab and was shuffling after a blowjob when I heard my girlfriend’s voice in my head. I can’t believe you touched some ripped up hobo porn with your bare hands. This garbage obsession is going to get you killed. You’re going to see a doctor tomorrow. A specialist. I shivered, and the chill of imagined herpes relaxed my forearm muscles enough to drop the porn. I ran inside for some serious hand washing.

This whole episode ended rather quietly, after fashioning a crude litter poker from tape and a broomstick and picking up every last piece of that porn. I also deposited it, along with the jacket, in my curbside garbage bin. Good decisions. I haven’t seen a specialist yet, but I did see something else when I took my kitchen garbage out to the can last night. Do you know what it was? It was the second bulging pocket, the one that’s still zipped up. I bet it’s full of treasure. It’s definitely full of treasure. Cotton balls, some hay, a tiny plaque that says “Bless This Mess,” a chicken bone, Polaroid of an estranged daughter. Magnificent. Risk reward. I could wear gloves.

I have some rubber gloves.

Hang on a second.

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