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This Is Just a Placeholder

These people are not alive. They are not your friends. These people are not people.

You never saw them coming, armed with tiny pitchforks, lazy arms swinging round in great windmills, whipping up the dust along the road that leads back to you.

Someone said “Go west young man”; you made a girl holler once by puking on your desk, in third grade, all over your desk: she was born in the same hospital as you, on the same day, the two of you separated by eight years, 72.9 miles (according to Google Maps) and approximately one half gallon of vomit, from that first chance meeting.

These are just things that people didn’t want anymore.

You can throw them away. They always come back to you.

For an encore, in fourth grade, I did it again. I also fought a bully. I had a weird coat; crazy tufts of matted fur sprang out all over, like it was wrested from a diminutive Sasquatch. Underneath: tuffskins, “ringer tee” in stripes and basic colors, dark purple, forest green, tendency toward burgundies; I was weird, and my mother dressed me funny.

You want to criticize but there’s still this problem of how we got here in the first place. We’re all products of our environment, after all. Mine was no more toxic than yours. The only difference is degree of awareness. I probably noticed what was happening more.

Put them on the shelf if you like. They always come back.

Let’s be honest for a second, though. I’m writing about crap I looked at in a thrift store. And my childhood. Illustrated with low-res photos of the crap I looked at in a thrift store. While my wife tried on pants. This is not Macbeth.

The author is making a connection between items once purchased — usually as gifts or impulse buys, or maybe found in a box left on one’s doorstep — and now marked returned to sender, and memories you try to keep quiet, from that time when you were wearing green pants and throwing up all over yourself.

The author is getting hungry for some kind of lunch. And that is not a metaphor.

Because in the end these objects are not people, and they are not loved. And you were. Your mother bought you those pants because they were sturdy and inexpensive. That coat seemed practical. You were sick that day because you were overfed that morning.

Your struggle is not the struggle of an oppressed minority. Your battle is internal, and not literal. You were unfortunate only when compared to half of one percent of the world.

You’re luckier than you remember. These people are here to remind you.

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