There’s a Tupperware crisis in this country

by | December 2020 A (Day 2)

There’s a Tupperware crisis in this country

And you can make a grocery list of the substances in your body. Name brand Adderall and an SSRI 60 milligrams. Two fat burners because you want to eat a cinnamon roll with your coffee, the one with the orange icing. Creatine after the gym, then marijuana for relaxing the neck, some fancy pants b-vitamins because you want to be smarter, sharper, faster, stronger like an Ok Computer. Then down went the mushroom stems and ginger tea, down down deep inside you where the blackness rests and it can all be all confronted.

 

This whole time you thought writing about drugs made you a more serious writer, like you made a pact with the devil. Let his lettuce, his fungus, his hard candy give me divine wisdom.

 

You and your partner have been over feeding the dog. Or just your partner. You snuggle your face into her stomach when stress is getting its best of you and call it “selfcare.” She takes it in like a sponge and she’s gained 4 pounds since her last vet visit. Your partner jokes that your dog is a bear. This is her hibernating.

 

You’re leaving Chicago and moving to New York, where you’ll trade a drill for a roll of electrical tap and wire strippers. You’ll run electric in homes new and old. Along the way, you’re told, there will be a customer who collects toasters, big ones, small ones, ones with president’s faces plastered on them that melt when they get too hot. But the toast is good.

 

You read a play recently in which the main character steals toasters from suburban households and you vow to never have a microwave because deep down you might be an antivaxxer, but this is a part of you that you never want to dig into. You wonder what your partner might do. So you tell her you had a dream last night about toasters. They were nesting dolls and they never ended and you woke up sweaty and panting like a spent dog.

 

You fall in and out of love with yourself. Say it’s from the heart. Just stick your face into your dog’s belly, she’ll take it all and let it in more and more and not ask for much herself.

13 Comments

  1. Bud Smith

    Kevin,
    I feel this one. I love the True West reference and how OK Computer sneaks in here and the drugs and the dog is a bear. I feel all this. I like how off the cuff you are writing, it reads so open and free while also keeping pace with your intent of staying grounded in the tone. It is nice to hear about leaving Chicago and coming east. I did feel compelled to ask you if there is one more paragraph to add to this as a bookend. The piece opens up with the dugs and then by the end we are talking about anti-vaxx, it could be cool to talk about what each and every organ or the body is doing at that moment when the narrator is sticking his face in the dog’s belly. Something swift and poetic and pointed. Nice work. You’re on the trail of something new and exciting

    • Kevin Sterne

      i’m playing around with something like this…”You fall in and out of love with yourself. Say it’s from the heart. Stick your face in your dog’s belly, she’ll take it all and let it in more and more and not ask for much herself. You’re lungs sing like sycamores. Heart beating. Contracting veins, spider webs pumping. Hearing hundreds of apples falling to the ground. Wishing, wanting. How we breath in and out pregnant with love passing through thick white strands, from my heart to yours. “

  2. Amy Barnes

    One of my favorite flash openers is when the title rolls into the opening line. You do that so gracefully, the two phrases move into each other as opposites and connected. The humor that this opens with also works well. The way you do things that are in and out of places echoes the idea of the Tupperware containers, things we contain: down down deep inside you, snuggle your face into, takes it in line a sponge, this is her hibernating, leaving/moving, stick your face in dog’s belly.

    The list of things/not things that fit/don’t fit into these lives is fascinating and varied, like what we stuff into actual containers and into ourselves: Name brand Adderall, SSRI 60 milligrams, Two fat burners, cinnamon roll with your coffee, Creatine after the gym, then marijuana for relaxing the neck, some fancy pants b-vitamins, stronger like an Ok Computer, mushroom stems and ginger tea, lettuce, fungus, hard candy, electrical tape, wire strippers, toasters.

    The closing lines echo the idea of Tupperware containing so well. Such a great pairing to express the compartmentalization that we do as people, finding space for our own lists of things. Really thought-provoking and an interesting juxtaposition of tangible and intangible containers.

    “They were nesting dolls and they never ended and you woke up sweaty and panting like a spent dog.”
    “He’ll take it all and let it in more and more and not ask for much herself.”

  3. Janelle Greco

    This has a lot of power right from the get-go. I love lists of things. I love this opening paragraph. I also think the pace and tone works throughout the piece. Like Bud, I want some more at the end. I’m not sure what—and I know that’s vague and unhelpful. I think I’m still processing this piece. So many images stuck with me. The toasters like nesting dolls. The list of items in the beginning. I need to mull this over more, but I do know that I enjoyed it immensely.

  4. Lisa Moore

    Hi Kevin,

    I got sucked into this right off the bat, starting with the title, which continues into the body of the story. I love how you use long sentences, and how they contribute to the loose feel of the story and allow you to include a lot of memorable like nesting toasters and dog bellies. The final sentence is amazing and has a big emotional impact.

    I do like Bud’s suggestion about expanding the earlier description of the moment with the dog. It’s another opportunity to introduce some cool images, which you obviously have a talent for, and could contribute to the set up for the final poignant dog moment at the end.

    Great job.

  5. Neil Clark

    Drawn in immediately, by the title and the way it flows into the first line, but you really had me at OK Computer.

    Then this line – “This whole time you thought writing about drugs made you a more serious writer, like you made a pact with the devil.” I younger version of me can relate to that, big time.

    The toaster imagery is epic too.

    I’m a big fan of your work, Kevin!

  6. David O'Connor

    Love the first and last paragraph, also like the biographical details–they anchor the story. Really love the style, right up my alley. My main concern is I wonder if there is a way to crescendo the tension to a build right before the last paragraph, this might involve shuffling the logic or even events of the story. The first paragraph seems to have the passion and tension of what I think the climax of the piece should have, am I making sense? Who knows, but basically, think about the emotional arc in the subtext–loved the title and the toasters. Good work.

  7. Taylor Grieshober

    Hi Kevin!
    This one hit me like a ton of bricks. Excellent stuff. Very good use of the second person which, I’m sure as well know, can be tricky and tedious and just plain bad sometimes. I love the movement of this story; you take me so many places in such a short span of time. The associative quality of the toasters works beautifully–it imbues a story that is otherwise very grounded with a slight surreality, just enough to keep me interested but not so much that it feels confusing or without a purpose. The details really pop here, my favorites being the list of substances at the beginning, overfeeding the dog, “…where you’ll trade a drill for a roll of electrical tap and wire strippers.”

    I also was really endeared by the self-reflection of the narrator in the part about the microwaves and the anti-vaxxer stuff. It seems like this is getting at the heart of the piece–there are things about ourselves that are just too hard to examine sometimes. This is also apparent in the line about being a writer and doing drugs.

    Overall the writing is taut, the rhythm is excellent and you really pulled it together at the end with that last line I’ll be thinking about for days to come. I wish I could offer some critique, but this puppy (pun intended) feels ready to go! Thank you so much for sharing, it was a pure joy to read.

    • Taylor Grieshober

      Ugh I always forget to mention how much I love the titles in this message board format. I LOVE THIS TITLE. And I love a title that bleeds into the story. This one works beautifully!

  8. Samantha Mitchell

    Hi Kevin,
    Wow, I rolled along at such a clipped pace through this one, thanks to your tight writing – the momentum you create, not just section to section, but line to line.

    I’m really drawn to how self-aware the narrator is. Introducing drugs in the first section, only to give the reference a wink in the next. The acknowledgement of overfeeding the dog, who by the end, the narrator is going to continue to “use” for self-care. The microwave/anti-vaxxer duality, which I think drives home the dual nature of the whole piece. That dual nature being, at least in my reading, the “detrimental” things we acknowledge about ourselves but succumb to anyway. You’re playing with a lovely irony here, which by the end, leaves me aching not just for the dog who knows nothing but to love blindly, but the narrator who is going to accept this love because it’s there and because he/she/they can.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. K Chiucarello

    Ah! I just love when pieces do this — the title bleeds into the piece. So well done here!

    Here’s some of my favorite line pulls: “Two fat burners because you want to eat a cinnamon roll with your coffee, the one with the orange icing.” “…his hard candy give me divine wisdom” “You’re leaving Chicago and moving to New York, where you’ll trade a drill for a roll of electrical tap and wire strippers.” “So you tell her you had a dream last night about toasters. They were nesting dolls and they never ended and you woke up sweaty and panting like a spent dog.”

    I’m hesitant to give any suggestions for this piece because I think what’s the most special is this sense of total feralness (perhaps not a word?). It straddles of the line of poetry and prose and the way that it meanders makes it incredibly unique. Everything blends together nonsensically and by the time you get down to the ending the reader is left nodding like ‘ah yes, this all makes sense now.’, but you can’t really put your finger on what you want to be walking away with. That’s a rambling way of saying that I just love being dragged along on this journey and that I could never really find my footing. Would love to see this published very soon.

  10. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Kevin, This one’s got it, down down deep inside you where the blackness rests and it can all be all confronted— and love that paragraph, it clicks to true. The whole narrative works for me, every detail, lives a life. If I quoted everything that grabbed me, I’d be rewriting or copying most of it. So just kudos.
    I don’t have any independent suggestions to add, but David’s comment about building tension in the narrative arc made sense to me. It is a fine piece as it is, however, and I loved reading it.

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