Throwing Stuff Out
Welcome to Sunday Morning Hot Tea where I write about a little something up top then answer a legal question for you down below. This week, garbage!
In this edition:
Topic of the Week – Bulk Trash
Legal Question – Nada
Hello hello from a married woman! Feels new. Feels good. Feels the same. We made it back from our two-week honeymoon last Sunday and have been catching up on work, laundry, and all kinds of house stuff.
This week I am bringing you a piece I wrote back during the pandemic before having the newsletter. I hope you enjoy! If you’ve read it before, feel free to skip it, though I have made some tweaks, additions, and changes. Enjoy!
I don’t know my neighbors. I have lived in my home for over two years and aside from the ones living directly next door, I have no clue who lives around me. There are hints here and there. A gathering of cars on Thanksgiving or Christmas will tell me that homeowner is likely the head of their family, maybe the oldest of a set of adult siblings, or at least the most well-off. Not that my neighborhood is fancy. I just assume that if an entire family is gathered in this neighborhood, they’ve got no better place to be.
The biggest window into their lives is what they toss out on alternating months. The city of Dallas hosts “bulk trash days” where it encourages residents to pile out whatever old junk they want to get rid of on the parkway between the sidewalk and street for the city to scoop up.
Bulk trash weekends are my favorites because I not only see what all my neighbors have thrown out, but I get to make up back stories for the objects I find. This month I saw a toilet at one house, sans lid, and a toilet seat and lid over two blocks away. Did someone try to use the toilet and, when finding it not hooked into any plumbing, snatch off the lid in a rage and throw it down the block?
I saw a set of frayed wicker chairs, one on top of the other like one was sitting in the other’s lap. If your chairs become sentient and fall in love, you have an ethical obligation to set them free.
I saw a rolled up sleeping bag, the rusted end of a rollaway bed, and dented wok. Looks like someone hosted a terrible house guest.
I also saw toddler items including a Minnie Mouse chair and a Disney tote bag beside an enormous empty fireworks box. Can’t travel to a Disney theme park? Why not entertain your 3-year-old with a good old fashioned backyard fireworks show!
I saw a full propane grill beside the box for a new desk chair. They must have converted their indoor grill room into a home office.
I’ve gone to enough baby showers to recognize a sliding ottoman that I know matches a sliding rocker for new parents. The ottoman is on the curb, the rocker nowhere in sight. Did the baby grow up? Or did they prefer to rock with feet planted on the ground?
A few doors down, I spot a white decorative basket, slightly bigger than a shoe box, wrapped in hot pink polka dot fabric affixed with a bow. Inside the box, someone has stacked photo frames meant for a baby girl’s room, all white paint with pink foot prints and princess crowns. I hope the kid just got old enough to outgrow the saccharine sweet pieces and nothing worse happened.
One family has tossed out the shiny box of a brand new 4K flat screen TV. Another family set out an enormous old satellite dish, wires and cables jutting onto the sidewalk. The new TV’s destiny sits staring from across the road.
There is regular trash along my path, too. A Coors can, a McDonald’s coffee cup. More recently, with the pandemic, I have seen blue latex gloves along the side of the road as if thrown from a moving car. I notice multiple latex gloves along a narrow path in an area between a neighborhood and an elementary school. I try to imagine where were the gloves’ former owners coming from that was so filthy that the gloves had to be chucked from a moving vehicle and couldn’t stay in the car with their owner. This begs the question - if the gloves were that dirty, why didn’t they throw them out before getting in the car?
Right beside the school parking lot marked TEACHERS ONLY, I notice the pink plastic applicator of a tampon without its accompanying product. I have several teacher friends. They are all underpaid and overworked, but I pray not so much that they’re forced to ram a product in right there in the parking lot before the first bell rings.
Seeing all this trash really sets me off. I truly abhor littering. It is lazy and archaic. It is something an unfrozen caveman would do after he finished a fast food hot dog he was given. He would ravage the meat and bread then toss the packaging aside, like the bones of an animal. If you liter, I hate you. Please know I hate hating and I don’t even know why I do it.
Except maybe I do.
Famous German novelist Hermann Hesse said, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.”
Ouch, Hermann. You got me.
I hate littering so much because I am guilty of intentional littering. I only did it one time. When I was eighteen years old. On the night I lost my virginity.
I was a late bloomer in school. I never had a boyfriend and was relegated to taking friends to dances, never having been asked by any boys I liked. When I finally grew into my face and body, I met a boy I’ll call Chad. He was handsome and witty, incredibly smart and musically talented. He also went to another school. If my friends hadn’t met him when I did at the coffee shop near the mall (the intersection of teenage hangouts), they would have thought I made him up.
Chad was a normal teenage boy with normal teenage boy urges. After hanging out for a few weeks, we drove out to the gravel parking lot beside the reservoir, near a power plant substation. It was a regular place for teenagers in our town to park for activities we couldn’t do at home. Some would make out. Others would have sex or smoke pot. My friends and I would use it to dig for cool rocks and take photos in fun costumes.
It won’t shock you to learn that at 18, I was a virgin. Completely. I had not made out, fooled around, fondled, kissed or grabbed. I had touched one weenie, one time, when I was nuzzling with a boy after a party. It was limp and small, spongy and tepid. I had never ever seen an erect penis. I would have had no clue what to do with one if I had.
Chad and I sat parked in his car, surrounded by the hum of the power plant, watching the reflection of the moon on the water. We listened to a local shock jock, and eventually, made out in his Nissan Altima. I could tell he wanted me to touch it, chiefly because he took me by the wrist and placed my hand on his crotch. There was a hard mass. I panicked. Not because I was afraid, but because I was unprepared. I am a textbook type-A personality. Before starting a new venture, I like to research every possibility and prepare myself for any contingency. Penises were no exception.
I pulled my hand back into my own lap and lied.
“I have to get home,” I said. I looked at the clock. 8:40PM.
“My curfew is at 9:00.”
The thing about a new relationship is you can build yourself and the characters in your family in any way that suits you.
“My parents are real strict,” I added. They were not.
He dropped me at my curb at 8:57. We said our goodbyes, promising to meet again that weekend. He didn’t know it, but I did – the next time we would meet, I would touch that wiener.
I went inside and got to work. I fired on my family’s bulky desktop computer and began my search. In 2004, there was no Google. There were a handful of search engines, but they all required thoughtfully crafted inputs, the correct collection of words and connectors. Rather than searching “penis AND touching AND how to” I instead navigated over to AskJeeves.
This website boasted the ability to answer any question and allowed users to phrase their searches as such. The site’s mascot was a butler dressed in a dapper pinstripe sport coat, a vest, and a red necktie. I checked the hallway for any approaching parents.
There was no one.
I punched the keys and asked Jeeves: “How do you give a hand job?”
Several legitimate sites came up: Cosmopolitan Magazine, a sex therapy website. I read all I could. I debated making crib notes on my hand but figured the act itself would prevent me from utilizing them. I devoured the information for hours, and afterward, I felt ready.
That weekend, after pretending to watch a movie while reviewing my plan of action in my mind, Chad and I started to make out. One thing led to another, and I found his hand on my wrist. He guided my palm to the zipper of his pants, and I dove right in. I had discussed my sexual history (or lack thereof) with him, so his expectations were understandably low. He settled back and readied himself for a clumsy first timer. But after I was finished, his jaw was dropped and stayed there for several moments.
“Where did you – How did you--?” he tried getting several sentences out but couldn’t manage.
“I just got some tips from…” I stopped myself. Rather than saying my online butler, I thought better of it.
“I got some tips from my friends. Girls at school. Real humans. They’ve done all this before.”
“They must have,” he said. He laid in the afterglow until it was time for me to head back to my house. I drove home, satisfied with the performance of my newly acquired skills.
Knowing what would likely happen next, I headed back to the computer. I asked Jeeves the next logical question, “How do you give a blow job?”
Jeeves had been a whiz at second base, and it turned out the next weekend, he was even better at third. After another performance that left him speechless, I was nervous that Chad and I were approaching the time when things would move to a horizontal position. Jeeves was a lot of help there as well, providing me with a whole list of expectations and pitfalls to avoid that my public school had failed to offer.
One night a few weeks later, I drove to Chad’s house, confident that it would be the night. As we watched a comedy show while sitting on his small, twin-size bed, I could barely pay attention. He wasn’t interested in the show either. He started by kissing me, then we laid down on the bed. I reached down to unbutton his pants.
“Are you sure?” he asked. I nodded yes. He reached into a little wooden box and pulled out a condom.
We must have gotten undressed after that and did the thing, but honestly, some fifteen years later, I can’t remember how it went. I laid there, going over the checklist in my mind of things Jeeves had warned me about. Chad seemed to enjoy himself for a few minutes. His body made a jolting motion then went limp, just like I expected. The boxes on the checklist in my brain had been checked off.
What Jeeves had failed to mention was that I didn’t have fun. It wasn’t super painful or upsetting or anything. It just was. My face burned red, in unfulfilled excitement and a little embarrassment. Plus it was past 9PM on a school night, so we both agreed it was time for me to leave.
“You have to get rid of this,” he told me. “My mom will kill me if she finds it.” He wrapped the condom, still warm and full, along with the wrapper in a piece of toilet paper. He handed it to me as I left the house.
I walked out to my car, condom balled up in my fist, and set the package in the passenger seat beside me. I cranked on the engine and rolled down the windows to let the November night in. I put one hand on the white wad and wondered how I would get rid of it.
To get back home, I had to take Highway 352 from Chad’s neighborhood back to mine. Despite its name, 352 isn’t exactly a highway. It runs two lanes in either direction, and the speed limit along the way maxes out at just 50 miles per hour. It passes through a mostly industrial area before arching over some train tracks and turning into a more suburban road called Pioneer just past a four way stop.
I held the wad in my hand and accelerated up the incline. Right at the peak, I tossed the package as hard as I could out the passenger window. I imagined it tumbling down, over the guardrail and onto the train tracks below. I imagined it would be crushed by the overnight trains that blew their horns and cut through the dark of our town every night.
In reality, it likely landed on the sidewalk beside the road. My arms aren’t that strong, and with the wind and the speed, there is no way it made it all the way over the side of the bridge and onto the tracks. But no matter. The evidence was gone.
I walked in my house and greeted my mom who sat on the sofa. I was sure my every move I made gave me away. I looked down for a red A on my t-shirt. I was convinced I now walked like a non-virgin and talked like a non-virgin. My cheeks burned. I felt there was no way of hiding it. I slipped into my bedroom as quickly as possible.
Whoever came across that wad of tissue probably concocted a story of their own. A soiled prophylactic and its wrapper, balled up on a roadside. Was it a smoking gun? The tangible proof of a long suspected clandestine love affair? Could it have been discarded by two careless lovers, so passionate in their dalliance that they didn’t even stop the car as they finished?
The stories I invent about my neighbor’s trash are just as preposterous as that. It’s fun to pretend, sure, but there is almost never a grand story behind anything you find on the ground. Most of the time, it’s just something a person needed to leave behind.
QUESTIONS FROM YOU
Normally this is where I answer a legal/pop culture question from you. I have a lot of irons in the fire, so I’ll hit y’all back with some more legal answers soon.
Got a legal question? Submit it here. They can be legal what-if questions, questions on current events, or questions about the legality of actions in TV shows or movies you’ve seen. I never ever want to answer your personal legal questions, so don't send those. Love you, but I don’t do that.
Until next week, that’s the tea, and I am officially married! 🎉
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