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An out-of-place trashcan

Recycled on November 14, 2021.

Blithely I was walking down the Bouillabaisse Boulevard sidewalk this past Monday, early in the morning, when it happened. The air was brisk; I was taking my pet kerfrumpt for her morning constitutional, all the while contemplating what quantity of diarrheic dog vomit I would dribble out as yet another interminable blog entry, when it happened.

I rounded the corner and stopped short. There it was. An out-of-place trashcan was just sitting there, facing the sidewalk. It wasn’t a city trashcan, nor a residential one, but something in between. It was squarish, bereft of any thought toward aesthetics, made of some heavy-duty brownish plastic or fiberglass that immediately put one in mind of a faded, week-old dog turd left on the sidewalk by a jerkass dog-walker. The trashcan just sat there, minding its own business, being a trashcan.

Did someone steal it from the local McDonald’s and plop it here to collect the trash of passers-by? Was it a passive-aggressive swipe at us Bouillabaisse Boulevard residents—that we littered too much? Or that we stank like garbage? Did it fall off the back of a truck and just happen to land here, right-side up and ready to rock? Did it run away from its trashy home after the more stylish trashcans made fun of it for its rough appearance?

I reached out and poked it hesitantly. Its little flappy door opened an inch, then snapped back shut when I withdrew my finger. I yerked, my buttocks clenching. This trashcan wasn’t about to take any crap from me, no sir. I poked it again; it flapped defiantly at me in return.

A realization struck: I was allowing a simple trashcan, of all things, to get the best of me. My eyes narrowed. People were watching—my reputation, my very manhood, was at stake here. My eyes darted up and down the street. Indeed, people—some of them actual human beings—were staring at me. The mailman watched with a look of concern, the milkman with a look of consternation, and Mr. Van der Woobie’s ghost with a look of sheer constipation. Clearly decisive action was called for, lest the whole troupe of human–things that infested Bouillabaisse Boulevard think me an effete half-man. And surely I was at least three quarters of a man most days. There was only one thing for me to do: With a whooping bellow, I raised my arms and swung both my fists at the trashcan. Alas the heavy-duty, rigid plastic was too much for my fists. The plastic held firm; my fists shattered into a dozen pieces on the sidewalk.

I kicked at the can, hard, and missed. Onto my buttocks I fell, driving my coccyx all the way up into my nose. Out of options, I flailed around on my back, beetle-like, until I finally righted myself with the assistance of a passing gnome. I was running out of patience (and limbs) dealing with this out-of-place trashcan. And it just sat there, sneering at me with its little door flapping gently in the occasional breeze.

“Second verse—same as the first!” I shouted, throwing my arms up in resignation. My kerfrumpt cocked her eating-snout at me curiously. “Don’t you see? She wouldn’t have a Willy or a Sam! It doesn’t make any sense!”

I attacked the stoic little waste receptacle again, with equally dismal results. No one helped me up this time. I sneezed, then went crawling about on all fours in the road looking for my ejected tail bone. It was then that someone decided to ignore the “No trucks” sign at the end of Bouillabaisse Boulevard, and…

Thursday sidled up to my calendar and cajoled me to finally get out of bed again. My tail bone rested in a jar of formaldehyde next to my bed. The doctors said it was too heavily damaged—I would never wag again. Fortunately my shattered limbs, detached spinal cord, and crumpled forehead were much more easily fixable by the team of charlatans, quacks, and cranks I had assembled to put me back together again. And here I was, three days after that fateful accident, and I was good as new—other than a bad case of my forehead still looking like it lost a head-butting match with a drunken Klingon, of course. But the re-smoothing of my forehead could wait. I had an out-of-place trashcan to contend with!

After a brief struggle to put all of my shoes on (long story—but this is what happens when you hire a bunch of quacks to reattach your limbs), I marched back down the Bouillabaisse Boulevard sidewalk to give that out-of-place trashcan a piece of my smooth, smooth mind. And there it was, right where it had been before: Serenely sitting there facing the sidewalk, just waiting for passers-by to jam their unwanted trash down its throat.

After marching on down to the trashcan—a Pnårpian catabasis—I marched right up to that trashcan, my nose held high in defiance, my eyes filled with grim determination and the aftermath of a lost battle with the Sandman overnight. I stopped, stared the can down. Its flappy door hung tautly, defying me to push on it. Tension filled the air, so thick it could be cut with a chainsaw. Rage burbled up inside me, starting in my buttocks where my coccyx should have been, and rose through my integument all the way to my nipples. But then, I stopped: A sudden awe overtook me, and I fell to my knees in front of this mighty out-of-place trashcan.

This trashcan was put here for us, I realized. This trashcan was put here on this Earth for me. Who was I to defy its mysterious presence? We all need a place to drop our excess garbage when our own houses fill up, and here was just the place we needed at just the time we needed it. I ran home at once and returned with an overstuffed bag of trash. Into this redeeming trashcan I poured the entire bag—and the garbage was gone without a trace. I scurried back home and got another, and then another, and then another—each bagful of trash disappeared into this seemingly bottomless receptacle—disappeared with nary a trace. Trash, garbage, rubbish, bag after bag, the can accepted them all without complaint. People gathered around and watched. In no time, the 1,701 piles of trash I had accumulated throughout my life on Bouillabaisse Boulevard were all dispatched to the netherworld via the waiting mouth of this valiant little trash bin.

Others soon joined, dragging their own lumpy bags of trash over and pouring them in. And still this mysterious, out-of-place trashcan was seemingly empty—its bottomless belly ready to accept anything I, or anyone else, decided to throw into it. It was a miracle. People came from all over to witness the miracle of the bottomless trashcan. Surely, this was all part of God’s plan—or perhaps the baleful Owl Gods’ plans. I was indeed quite sure of it. At least I thought I was sure of it.

Well, I was sure of one thing: I had successfully dribbled out yet another formidable quantity of diarrheic dog vomit, and it would serve quite well as this week’s insufferable blog entry. Of that I was sure.