Up Side On Side Down Sideways

Tiny Solo Cup. (Great song, too.)

Tiny Solo Cup. (Great song, too.)

Factoid: In 2010 Americans expended 250 million tons of trash. 93.2 percent consisted of the Solo 2 oz Plastic Souffle Cup.

I often wonder what it would be like to explain certain aspects of my existence to an isolated indigenous person who was totally unaware of the modern world. I have the feeling that even mundane things like money, banks, interest rates,  and mortgage-backed securities with post-load risk factors (fully assumable) would be hard to communicate with hand gestures. (Aside from the obvious one, I mean. I have a feeling they could pick that one up pretty quick.)

“You see, Ndugu, this is what we call a storage unit.”

“Meester Tom, what is this place? It is quite strange. I feel we should not be here.”

“It’s okay, Ndugu. This is normal for us. You know what a house is, right? It’s where we live. Just like your hut. Where you live.”

“Yes. Ndugu understand.”

“Well, back in the 1950’s a typical American home was about 800 square feet. These days my garage all by itself is bigger than that. And that’s mainly just used for storing my snowboards, beer and meat. And the multiple vehicles I own. Meanwhile, the rest of my house has gotten much, much bigger, too. Due to this growth I have the ability to own many, many more possessions.”

“Wait, friend Tom. What is this possessions?”

“You know. Stuff. Things. Tools. Fun items. Like this iPad. Or a 42″ flatscreen LCD television. Or a collection of 42 beer steins.”

“Ah.” Ndugu chuckles. “Dear Tom, you can’t own those. They own you. Even we understand this.”

“You just don’t get it do you? Well, anyway, sometimes what happens is that we get so many things that even with our bigger houses and garages and outbuildings, too, we just don’t have enough room. That’s where the storage unit comes in. It’s a place to store our extra things. Things that we still need but never use.”

“I have to admit Ndugu is confused.”

“It works like this. Let’s say I have too many sofas. So I put the ones I don’t want in the storage unit. Then, seven years later, and after spending a lot of money, I’ll still have the exoskeletons of what used to be sofas but have since been eaten by rats.”

“Please, Tom. Ndugu wants to go home now. Ndugu is scared we are angering the Great Overseers.”

So yeah, I think it could be kind of hard to explain.

Or, another example.

An American goes into a restaurant. The waitperson comes by to take the order. “I want the #1 but with the meat from the #2, the side dish from the #3, and the dessert from the #4.”

“That’s so many changes it’s not really a #1 at all. Why don’t you just say you want ham and eggs, hash browns, and an English muffin? It would be a lot simpler.”

“You don’t really give a shit about your tip, do ya? I’m an American. Now give me exactly what I want, and right now, goddamn it or there will be trouble.”

“Hey, toots. I want a salad, too. With extra dressing. Lots and lots of ranch dressing. More is better. But I want the dressing on the side.”

“Excuse me, Meester Tom. What are you doing? This makes no sense to Ndugu.”

“What? Are you still here? Well, isn’t it obvious? I want lots of salad dressing. That’s the stuff that makes lettuce and vegetables edible, you know. But I don’t want it actually touching my salad. So I have to order it on the side. That means it comes with the salad, but separately in little cups.”

“Ndugu thinks he understands. Go on.”

“Then I take those little cups and … wait for it … I pour the salad dressing on the salad. Both cups.  Or all three or four as the case may be.”


“Ndugu must say, you are fucking insane.”

“I know, I know. It’s like the worst wet dream that could have ever been imagined by the Lorax. Not even he could predict such foolhardy wasteful consumption. It’s a little plastic cup that exists for the sole purpose of keeping our food ingredients separate for just a few seconds longer. I know it seems perversely decadent and I don’t expect you to understand. You’re not as advanced as us. But believe me, it’s totally worth it. There’s nothing like being the one to pour that shit on yourself. It’s sublime.”

“Hell, it’s almost as good as new car smell. Or being the first person to rip into a package containing new electronics.”

“Besides, plastic is made from oil consuming that helps our economy, and that helps all of us. And it’s not biodegradable. We have throw it away or, in the worst case, pretend to recycle it. And that means jobs. But it’s worth it.”

“Please, Tom. Ndugu wants to go home now. Ndugu is scared we are angering the Great Overseers.”

2 responses

  1. No no, Shouts, you’re doing it all wrong.
    First you have to force Ndugu to join your religion.
    Then you have to make him wear your clothes, follow your rules and upend his civilization.
    Only then will he have context to understand our asshattery.


    1. Ah, conversion. At last the true motivations behind this blog have been revealed.

      I call my religion Asshattery. That’s also the name of my autobiography but I’m still looking for someone to write it.


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