Monday, October 5, 2009

so sick

This is disturbing.

Every night I come home to my apartment and open the kitchen trash can.

Let me explain:

I moved into my Newark apartment a month ago. My roommates are perfectly pleasant and conscientious of common spaces (mostly because one seems to never leave his room and the other seems to never leave Manhattan), but if they have a vice, it would be their selective blindness toward a garbage can that has met capacity. Since neither cooks, they don't produce much garbage and probably aren't used to taking the trash out more regularly than the changing of the seasons.

One day, the garbage was full and my roommate, Dmitry, instead of taking the trash out, left the bag from his take-out dinner on the floor next to the trash can.

I am as curious as a kitten born into a world of yarn balls and crippled mice.

Naturally, as I assume everyone would do, I untied the plastic "Thank you for shopping" bag and peeled it back to reveal a paper bag within whose mouth I uncurled as quietly as possible (Dmitry's room is not far from the kitchen and the sound of my foraging). Inside was a styrofoam container which I placed on the counter. I pushed the tabs in and the lid popped open like the hood of a car.

My knees buckled. I suppressed a gasp.

Uneaten french fries! Dozens of them! And uneaten chicken skin! Sheets of the stuff: flabby, cold, salty, and tempting me with its calories.

I love chicken skin.

Armin the Kitten now learns that the yarn balls of his world are laced with catnip and the crippled mice have tiny bluefin tuna swimming in their bloodstream.

I stole away with my treasure so i could enjoy it privately in my room.

Ever since that day, I open the trash can hoping for the same luck. If i find what I'm looking for, I pull the styrofoam carton out, but put the paper bag back into the plastic bag and puff it out a bit before tying the whole thing shut so that it looks untouched and full. I'm well aware of the risk of my behavior. Not disease-wise. The risk that Dmitry will walk in on me with my hands in the garbage and my feet too giddy to keep still. it's as if a part of me wants to get caught with a mouthful of salty, cold fries in my mouth.

Also disturbing is the fact that I'm not even doing this out of hunger. Usually I'm coming back from my mom or sister's place having just had dinner and carrying leftovers for the week. And, if I really wanted half a chicken and french fries, I could walk four blocks down the road and buy my very own sytrofoam carton of it, hot, for $4.50 and tax. I have a sickness.

Last weekend, I took Dmitry out for dinner to celebrate his earning a PhD in math. He loves discussing all varieties of controversial topics and somehow the discussion strayed to gun ownership.

"A person has the right to stop a crime occuring against him on his property, even if that means using a gun," he said.

"Even if it's a non violent crime?" I ask.

"Yes. If a man is in your house carrying your TV away, how can he hurt you? His hands are tied holding your TV. But you have the right to shoot him to stop him."

"What if someone is on your property rummaging through your trash to steal your identity?"

"I believe as the law is written, the garbage is still your property until it is picked up by the sanitation department. So yes, that's a crime on your property and you should have the right to shoot him."

I paused. How much does he know? Are a couple handfuls of fries and chicken skin (and sometimes meat stuck to cartillage) worth getting shot?

I still peeked into the garbage last night, so I think we know my answer.