Plastic is sad to the touch. It feels wrongly smooth, like a glib remark. It conveys nothing but a dull sense of its functionality. It is luridly durable, inexorably cheerful. A sensitive child, plastic toys made me sad. When I got a plastic toy for Christmas or my birthday (such as a lightsaber) my initial excitement soon faded as the worthlessness of the thing sensually transmitted itself to me. A diffuse melancholy would spread through my young mind. The toy was a cheap trick, a gimmick stuck in evanescent novelty. Plastic was a dead-end to the imagination; it was impossible to intimately bond with its polymers. Now older, I am more receptive to the practical advantages of plastic but it still feels sad to the touch. Crinkly plastic cups, for instance, can be heartbreaking.
My dad had a lot of plastic in his wallet. When he came home from work in the evening (usually with a pained expression in his evasive eyes), he would leave his expensive leather wallet on the dresser. I understood that his wallet, casually lying on a sideboard, nonchalantly bulging with credit, was the key to the mystery that was a burgeoning misery in the making. The leather felt pleasurable to the touch. But it was a dead animal that had been slaughtered so its tanned hide could bulge with plastic standing in for paper substituting for debt. I was both proud of my father’s orderly array of plastic cards and repelled by them. What bothered me most, however, was the way he casually tossed his wallet onto the dresser. My allergy to affectation (or political consciousness) began with that deceptively dismissive gesture.
I do not have a wallet. Sometimes this is regrettable, such as when a 500-litas note slipped out of my pocket (five years later, ouch). But I feel lighter without one. Wallets tend to bulge (with proof of loyalty, memberships, identity) revealingly, and compartmentalize life into a hierarchy of priorities that favour falling into line and buying superfluous things (men like to whip it out).
Tears come to my eyes as I wash a few dishes. Tears have never come to my eyes while washing dishes before. They feel timely.
Pussy willow stands, splayed, in a Soviet-era jug. Catkins drop on the desk. Leaving pools of pollen on the wood. A mouse sits there, plastically hunched. Drops of dejected love are ingrained into the floor.
It physically hurts to remember. From plastic potty to spastic meltdown. Fairy liquid clears the mess. Something squeaks in the distance.
The wind sweeps the open plain in a constant high-pitched whistling. It carries no melody, only hearsay of wailing.
Pain speaks in forked tongues. Firewood stacks nicely. Ladders lean meaningfully. Fairy liquid spurts forth. It stains magazine pages, splatters imaginary faces, gets flushed into sewers. Parallel worlds do not mix well.
I lean a ladder against my tall bedroom wall. It stands at a sharp angle. It is a work of art, a pleasure to behold. Feeling emboldened, I go to recycle my empty cans (there are a lot thanks to G’s newfound preference for beer). I get €3.10 for them.
My brain bulges with pain. I put a bounty out on my head. A stranger rings my doorbell. Twice. I flee up the ladder. But it leads to wall. Nothing but wall.
It was all pollen-spreading bluster. Every absurd word of it. I share my apartment with ants and spiders. I admire their crazed sense of purpose. One frantically running back and forth. The other poised, suspended, resolute as an ideological full stop. While it waits for a fly. To fly by. Into its web. To its death. A spindly yarn.
I buy J a purse for Christmas. It opens wide. J strokes it lovingly. I stroke J’s back lovingly. She is blessed with exceptionally sensitive skin. Being stroked leads her down the garden path to convulsions of ecstasy. The ants look away. The spiders look down. I smoke workmanlike with my free hand.
The police called to tell me they found my wallet (discarded by my attacker in a cemetery). Everything was still there except the money. But it was not the same object; it felt limp, lifeless, deformed. I keep it in a shoe box as a reminder of how my friendliness ended up disfiguring my face and paralyzing me with fear.
The sea of plastic glistens brightly in the morning sun. The material blubber of our bloated forgetfulness drifts, strangles, chokes.
I have high hopes for the day. I lunge at dishes with sponge. Fish for flesh. Exhume the dead. Expunge any validity herein. Adjust to debility. Break for lunch. Afternoons are worst; a time-warping sunny black hole. But as my neighbour Elvira always says: “Hello there…”