I have this Love/Hate thing going on with plastics. On the plus side, there’s those wonderful XL 256-ounce cups that fast food emporiums fill with my favorite Life’s Elixir — Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper. If memory serves from that 9th-grade health film at Placerita, I think the third-main ingredient in both is ground-up toothbrushes.
How DO they make that taste so refreshing?
So many things plastic for which to be thankful — Tupperware, contact lenses, storage bags, chewing gum (yes! CHEWING GUM!), tea bags, my computer, coffins, the TV clicker, credit cards — ahhh, deep sigh — reef-destroying PLASTIC STRAWS. There’s cell phones, highways, soap, designer sunglass frames, bikinis, motorcycle goggles, and, alas, at the far end of the continuum also made of unrecyclable poison-for-a-billion-years plastic — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Hock. Pppppppp. Tooey.
Normally, me and plastic waltz through life quite duckily. But then, all of a sudden and without warning, the gooey death fangs of this undying polymeric material can turn on me like a vengeful ’bot.
You know how old people (Jim McCarthy, Wayne Crawford, Tim Burkhart, Carrie Lujan) like to whine: “My feet are killing me?”
My tennis shoes tried to kill me more than once. I’m not blaming any particular company, because all the major sneaker manufacturers have attempted to take my life. But, I remember years ago making the decision to cross Valencia Boulevard, from the Auto Club to the library. During rush hour. I’m young. Athletic. Could run faster than Jeffrey Epstein fleeing a wide-eyed and butcher knife-wielding Hillary Clinton. I look both ways and it’s clear. I start a jog-run to cross the 84-lane Val-Blvd. by City Hall and leap the median like a Bigfoot Baryshnikov. Midair, the plastic in BOTH SHOES instantly disintegrates. As I land, instead of wearing $135 New Balances, I’m in clown shoes. Which are oft unwieldly. Cars are not “coming.” Valencia B is the blankety-blank Indianapolis 500 only with soccer moms driving mommy vans at 146 mph. In the middle of the road, I had to tug off the remnants of my high-end tennies and run in my socks. Horns are blaring. Brakes screech. Single digit Key To Your Mother’s Much Assaulted Chastity Belt salutes are raised.
I almost got clipped. Let’s just say that back then if I had the derriere of Kim Kardashian, I’d be a dead man.
Actually, as I ponder this, if I did have the derriere of Kim Kardashian, they wouldn’t let me in Chi Chi’s because I’d be knocking over all those decanters of grated cheese. Worse? Couldn’t buy normal human jeans at Tractor Supply.
I had another pair of plastic-filled athletic shoes that gave up the ghost at Vons in Sand Canyon, 1994. A late autumn cool evening. It’s like all that high-tech springy material between the soles of your feet and the ground — evaporated. Buoyant plastic turned into yellow polluted gas. Worse? I’ve got three-quarters of a cart filled with groceries. With every step, my shoes are making this loud, sickening, passing wind sound, karmically, the same noise I’d create by blowing on my bicep to serenade elementary school substitute teachers when their backs were turned.
Thwwwwwrrrrrippp… thwwwwwrrrrrippp… thwwwwwrrrrrippp… with every footfall. Add to that, the soles had conspired to, at the exact same time, have both soles dangle because the plastic glue had also dissolved. The sound was like walking on wet linoleum with swim fins, followed by, of course, a loud faux intestinal methane discharge with each step. Had I those shoes 62 years ago, I’d be Ruler of All 4th Grade.
My latest War With Plastics raged just this week.
I own a Mondo Industrial Ergonomically Executive Mouse Pad. It’s got a special raised and rounded plateau to add support to your wrist so you don’t catch Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tourettes or rabies. Anywho. I begin the long day with turning on my computer and limbering up my mouse. (No sophomoric one-liners from the peanut gallery, please.) I check and there’s this thick, tar-like sickly puke golden goop dripping from my wrist. Immediately, I figured cripes, I must have been eating some indigestible month-old Thai food leftovers while computering and it spilled onto the mouse pad. Pulling out paper towels, I then begin climbing up the food chain with cleaners. Water. Windex. Mr. Clean. Mr. “Anal Retentive” Clean. Will Not Be Sold To Minors Mr. “We’re Not ¡#/%^•≠ing Around Here” Clean. Bleach. Diesel fuel. A laser sword. I even inject it with a COVID shot. I went through many a Brawny to scrub out that goop. Finally, my overly priced executive mouse pad was cleansed of the offending substance.
Next morning? The sickly spill was back. It wasn’t food. My mouse pad was hemorrhaging radioactive pus-like padding. Worse? It had blobbed over onto the little chest of drawers next to my big executive recliner office chair, which is likewise filled with plastic and some capitalist top-secret Planned Obsolescence schedule to melt.
I worry about this. Aren’t artificial boobies and truck shock absorbers comprised of the same chemicals that quietly slosh inside my Air Bostons and mouse pad? What if, all over the world, fake breasts give up the ghost at the same time?
Chaos? End of civilization? Armageddon? Sheepish smiles and shrugs?
I love plastics and all the things they do. But, I warn everyone in our normally tranquil and riparian SCV. Come next Tuesday morning, a little after 10, all the Spandex in my underwear is scheduled to give way. It won’t be a pretty sight.
Eeesh. That darn mousepad. It lived nobly for years, quietly unoffending as a cream-filled doughnut.
It makes you wonder.
This secret lava that flows through the countless subterranean caverns of our modern lives? It’s the grossest damn sludge, like month-old clam road kill, only without the shell.
Or, Nancy Pelosi . . .
John Boston is earth’s most prolific humorist and satirist. Visit his bookstore at johnbostonbooks.com.