Mostly rambles, few brambles
Untouched Trash Sandwich
I eyed the half sandwich perched atop the overfilled garbage can. It had nested above the rim: essentially still existing here, having not yet crossed over to the garbage side of the world. Retrieving it would be easy and discrete. This time there was no chance of reaching too far, clumsily toppling in, panicking, and rolling haphazardly forty feet downhill into the roadside ravine.
This secondhand sandwich half looked like new. No bites or forceful fingerprints to speak of. The mayo had remained in a taut stripe, not having resigned itself to seep into the top piece of bread and merge into a singular moist, caloric entity. It was as if the original owner had left it for me, hopefully unable to finish it or called away on a medical emergency. They knew some snacky environmentalist-type could adopt this rescue lunch—just another hungry hungry hero seeking to eliminate food waste and do his part to curb global warming.
If I’m here alone, that sandwich is gone already. One mid-stride, cobra-like strike and I am tooth deep in Flavor Country. A sandwich is a clean scavenge; not at all like blindly groping halfway down the cylinder because there might be more spilled fries. My kids, six and four, are here at the park with me today. I’ve been told these are impressionable ages, but any age can be impressionable. Last month my grandfather, eighty-one, gave five-figures to a televangelist preacher. I know this because he brought it up as a counterpoint to my climate change crusade. He said this Man of the Lord—a weird, passive title that sounded vaguely concubine-y—said global warming was all conjecture and that the life of anything, including garbage, begins at conception. Trash cuisine, he stereotypes, is all trash. My kids, traditional impressionable ages, had resisted his pickled dogma—non-denominational-God bless them—and had thankfully wandered away from the dinner table and back to the TV.
At least ten people have stepped past that sandwich now. It’s only a matter of time before a savvy investor snaps up these buyer’s market assets or an oblivious moron throws a ripe diaper into the can and renders everything inedible. Eighty-five degrees out here—that mayonnaise won’t stay firm long.
I trust my kids, but not really. They can stay on the swings and not talk to anyone if I need to run to the bathroom for, like, two minutes. Witnessing Dad eat this would make everything fair game. Their eyes aren’t discerning enough yet. They don’t appreciate how rare and how preserved this uncertified-pre-owned sandwich is, and how slim the odds are that I’ll have to traipses home sick with a belly full of rancid whipped yolk. I worry I’d be setting a dangerous precedent and it’ll only be a matter of time before they’d be sweeping up fries and soup from the bottom of the can and tumbling into that ravine.
“Don’t eat out of the garbage,” is a far easier decree when they are six and four than explaining exceptions and hoping they remember and can correctly identify situations when it might be permissible. Judgment calls are not their strong suit because they have terrible, child-like judgment. For them to see me three-bite this sandwich half, they’d be asking all sorts of things, but when the time came for them to forage they would eat first and consider questions over diapers later.
Fuck it, they’re on the swings. I’ll tell them I’m hitting the bathroom and go house that tasty bitch.