Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pop Bottles And Chinese Doodads

"After Mickey’s that morning I had thirty bucks left until payday and I didn’t feel like trying to figure out when exactly that would be, although deep down I knew my last payday was yesterday. This fact, in modern parlance, sucked and I didn’t feel like sucking just then. If I wanted to feel anything I really should be feeling like getting the laundry out of the dryer before everything I owned compressed itself into one massive wrinkle.

Plus, I had more important things on my mind.

My front door knocked and I stopped thinking about what I should or should not be feeling like and opened it up to find myself standing on the other side of the screen door looking in and asking, “Got any pop bottles you don’t want?”

It wasn’t me exactly but a little-kid-me and I knew that because not only did he look vaguely familiar but I remember going door-to-door asking for pop bottles when I was his age. Pop bottles then were two cents – five for a big one. That might seem like not a lot of money now but back then a wagon full of bottles bought a heck of a lot of 4-for-a-penny mojos. Besides, I recognized the shoes. They were what we used to call gomer boots because only gomers wore them, as in Gomer Pyle. Now they are treasured high-top basketball shoes. Black canvas with white around the soles and white laces. You know the ones.

I thought about telling my kid-self that going door-to-door collecting pop bottles just didn’t work any more. There was no return on your labor. Pop bottles were mostly all plastic now and people recycled them. For free. No deposit, no return – just like life. When they were all used up that was it. They were tossed into blue caskets and sent to plastic bottle heaven and were reincarnated as Chinese doodads.

If I had more time and no laundry in the dryer I would have suggested that he should possibly switch to copper wire. I’d heard crooks kept stealing it so there must be a market for it. Then again, “Got any copper wire you don’t want?” just didn’t have the same innocent resonance.

Under normal circumstances I would have muttered a quick “No,” followed with a decisive closing of the door but I thought, wait a minute – this is me I’m talking to. Finally, I shook my head sorry, dug five of the last thirty bucks out of my wallet and passed it to him before closing the door. It’s what I would have wanted me to do. Besides, I had more important things on my mind. 

My life was in danger. There’s poetry in there somewhere."

(Excerpt... the opening salvo of a work in progress.)


  1. This is a cool story. You should talk to your younger self more often if he shows up at your door again!

  2. This opening salvo is very strong, Rand. Like Linda, I'm hooked. Let's have more.

    But, please, don't leave your older self out, too. The one that's older than you are now. I can hardly wait to hear *him*!