Second Thought: Wednesday July 23, 2003
Six-Legged Fifth of July

Do the new garbage carts come with fly spray?\r\n


The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. I give my biggest party of the year. About 40 friends trickle in and out. Hot dogs, buns, beer. And, therefore, cans, bottles, chicken bones, paper plates, napkins. (And they were really cool napkins we got on close-out that look like a donkey hunching the capitol dome.) In patriotic terms, it was a 50-wienie salute. The party, not the donkey doing the dome.

This is a problem, because I only have a 64-gallon trashcan.

This is getting serious. When you start foolin’ with twice-a-week garbage pickup, you’re walking on the fighting side of a few thousand Fort Worth folks. And ingratiating yourself to triple that amount in flies.

Mayor Mike Moncrief says he’s sick of all this wailin’ and gnashin’ of egg cartons — that the new garbage system is not “rocket science’’ and he wishes people would just get over it. Well, he can wish until the cows come home, but those cows are gonna be awful hard to see through the flies in Arlington Heights on an average collection morning.

Moncrief (which has now become our name for flies, as in, “go spray the garbage can for Moncriefs’’) was acting like we’re all a bunch of idiots sitting around peeling M&Ms with our toes. But then, whoa, wait a minute — last week the council allowed as how it might have to dump the Waste Management contract after all, because things aren’t working out with them.

Gee, guys, it isn’t rocket science.

Here is my math. We have three animals and two humans, and our 64-gallon will not hold it all for a week. What happens to families with babies in diapers and teen-agers with their pizza boxes and old lazy people like us with our Central Market take-out boxes?

It’s enough to quell the sex drive of a teen-age mink. Have more kids? Hell, no. They’d make more garbage. A friend of ours is about to have a baby. Now she’s afraid she’s made a mistake worse than forgetting to take that little pill. She ordered a small garbage cart.

But, hey, the city’s nothing if not benevolent. We will be allowed to set out two extra bags of trash on our first pickup day after Christmas and Thanksgiving. (Keep in mind, delivery day could be six days after the holiday. Talk about gifts that keep on giving.)

It’s as if they’re saying the Lord and Mike Moncrief are on our side and will take away our prayed-over turkey carcasses and shiny angel paper like sins after confession.

Thanksgiving and Christmas? What about my Aunt June’s birthday party? The Chardonnay bottles alone could fill the blue bin, the brown bin, and that awful Briefcase Man’s empty belly. Come to think of it, maybe he should be recast as Man with Large Garbage Cart. Frankly, we need “personal trash days,” just like the extra days you can take off from work.

Of course, lack of personal days on the job simply causes mental stress for the worker. Lack of garbage days is turning our street into a smelly mess where Moncriefs find the carts every bit as inviting as cow hiney at the stock show. My neighbor is starting to look an awful lot like Jeff Goldblum when I see him through the hedge — and through the swarm — in his safety goggles.

We wash the damn things out, but nonetheless, when I threw my first bag of the new week into the brown cart, which kinda reminds me of an elephant commode, there were squiggly worm-shaped things all down in the bottom — and they weren’t Gummies. I think I know where the Census Bureau got the idea that Fort Worth’s population is growing so fast — they’re counting the sticky-legged little Moncriefs.

But back to Christmas and Thanksgiving. What happens to people of other religions on their trash-producing family get-together religious days that don’t coincide with the Christian ones (well, Thanksgiving is pretty ecumenical, but still...)? What, the Jews and Muslims gotta carry their extra Heftys in pilgrimage to their ancestral homeland on high holy days or something?

That’s exactly what we did.

I woke up on July 5 and looked out the back window, with garbage bags piling up like ex-husbands by the fence, and did not know what to do. Flies and bags and flies. At least our dogs eat dry food — one, empty, foldable sack. Oh, but woe to those who used canned food in those days. I think that’s even in the Bible.

So we loaded the bags of mustard-crusted paper plates and plastic cups into the SUV. Shiner bottles formed an amber bock prism in the falling light. The steam that rose from the streets after a passing rain shower wasn’t a patch on the fumes rising from the back seat. (Now, if the wind had been blowing from Midlothian, that might have been a different matter.) Then, like drug runners sneaking across the Rio Grande, we ferried the whole damn thing to my own ancestral home on Westwood Drive, just across the city limits in Arlington.

Mamma and Daddy would take our trash. Thank God. All the trash that wouldn’t fit in the bins. All the trash we couldn’t classify. All of it Baltimore Colting it right on out of Cowtown in the dark of night.

(I’m not making this up. It was either drive to Arlington or move. Or read the guidebook, but what normal human being can do that? Especially after I saw on the web site that they take plastics numbers one through seven. Hmmm, are Barbie heads over or under seven? And what about the top on the squirt cheese?)

Exiting Eastchase, we watched the rearview for a garbage posse. But they’d missed us. “There’s Big Daddy’s, we’re safe,’’ said the cohort.

“No, you idiot, not ’til we cross Village Creek. Then we’re across the line.’’

There was a sign on the bridge that said fireworks are illegal in Arlington. But apparently garbage is still legal in Arlington.

The sun was down and it was time to make the drop-off. All of it, to the curb, on Westwood Drive, in the dark.

Isn’t this how NASCAR got started? Only it wasn’t as trashy.

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