trash fires

An open letter to the pre-teen who rolled his eyes at me while waiting in line at Starbucks 7 months ago.

Dear Jackson,

For the purposes of this open letter I’m going to assume your name is Jackson. What the hell was that about, Jackson? It was a Sunday morning in the type of town that has two farmers markets. There’s the good one where it’s implied that you’ll bring your own eco friendly tote, and the crap one where they just throw your shit produce in a white plastic bag emblazoned with the words THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU in bold red lettering. Equidistant between the two is a Starbucks, and that morning it was packed. The line was long, and I moved up a bit so that you and your mom could get out of the heat and inside the crisp yet also stale Starbucks-smelling Starbucks. That’s when we first met, Jackson. You looked me up and down, rolled your eyes, then took your place in line behind me.

It wasn’t the type of eye roll that you save for a long line, like an airport security checkpoint or bumper-to-bumper traffic. You’re 10 years old, advanced concepts like airport security and traffic mean nothing to you. No, you weren’t rolling your eyes at the line, you were rolling them at me and I’m trying to figure out what I did to deserve it.

Did you think I was clinging to my youth too much by wearing a fun, retro Star Wars t-shirt? It’s not a new Star Wars t-shirt, Jackson. I didn’t find it in a pile of pop culture crap at Target. It’s not covered in laser beams or exploding ships or aliens holding space rifles. It’s just a plain gray t-shirt with the words “STAR WARS” written in that classic yellow font that we all know and love. People my age see it and their eyes light up with recognition. They do not roll.

The line trudged onward. Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” was playing over the speakers. Admittedly a heavy choice for a Sunday morning coffee run, but maybe it spoke to you. Was I the something in your way? Do you even know what that song’s about? It’s about doing drugs under a bridge, Jackson. It’s from a time when the notion of doing drugs under a bridge was so romanticized that there was not one but TWO very popular songs about the subject. Oh how we all wanted to laze around with poor posture under those bridges, eating fish with Kurt Cobain and eating whatever Anthony Kiedis was cooking up. Probably maize. But not you Jackson. If you were there your eyes would be rolling so hard that you’d get vertigo and nearly stumble into a trash fire.



Was my lingering duck scent off-putting? I spilled a large amount of wet cat food all over myself a few hours before our encounter. Is it because my face isn’t symmetrical? Is it because I’ve convinced myself that the rest of my body also isn’t symmetrical so I overcompensate by putting more weight on my left foot to balance everything out? There are two large moles on my head that were once covered by my hairline, but as it recedes they’re becoming more and more pronounced. Sometimes I think people stare at them because they’re almost too symmetrical. Like two perfect stars forming the constellation “Orion’s 5 Inch Ruler.” That’s probably what it was. My symmetrical constellation moles offended you. I’m not going to lie, I’ve thought about getting them removed, but that’s not something a dermatologist can do, right? That’s like plastic surgery territory. And am I ready to become the type of person that gets elective plastic surgery? Would you roll your eyes at my scar tissue, Jackson? Or the flesh from my back that was harvested and injected into my mole holes? I think you would. I think I would too.