The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

Featured Author

Ed Tasca

Separation Anxiety
A Play

man with recylcing bin on his head

One Man holding an ordinary plastic margarine container in his kitchen suddenly finds himself paralyzed with indecision. The moment lasts for a long time, until he musters up the muscles and will to grab his phone and peck out a phone number.

Man:  Hello. Is this the Grandview Recycling Hotline?

A Woman sitting at an old metal and wood–skin desk answers.

Woman:  Yes. Can I help you?

Man:  I have a plastic margarine container here. There’s no number on the bottom indicating its waste category, so I wasn’t sure if it had a waste category, or if it was acceptable trash for the landfill.

Woman:  Sir, if the container has no number on it, you can just throw it in the regular trash.

Man:  It just looks like a lot of containers I do recycle in my blue bin. I’d just feel more comfortable if I was sure. I’ve been using it as a planter. But the plant died. And well, I still don’t know what to do with this container. It will only hold things like Geraniums. And to be honest with you, I don’t really like Geraniums.

Woman:  Let me see if I can help. What markings are there on the bottom of your container?

Man:  It says, Mama Bear Margarine — yum–yum.

Woman:  Is there a number in a triangle?

Man:  There’s a number. But it’s not in a triangle. It’s in a little bear’s face.

Woman:  That wouldn’t be recyclable, sir.

Man:  But it’s plastic.

Woman:  I think you can just throw it out.

Man:  Do you want to know the number in the little bear’s face?

Woman:  No, sir. I don’t think that’s necessary.

Man:  Look, I’m sorry to be such a bother, but I like this margarine. It’s not like the other margarines. It’s buttery tasting, and really makes toast taste like toast. It’s made with olive oil. And of course it has no cholesterol, although it does seem to have some saturated fat. But I think some saturated fat is okay, right? Anyway, I want to continue buying this brand, but if the empty container is going to be, you know, a waste problem, I may have to go back to my old brand of margarine.

Woman:  Sir, I’m not sure I can help you.

Man:  See, the Mama Bear brand has less than 4.5 grams of fat per serving. My other brand had much more. Do you happen to know a brand of margarine that has 4.5 grams of fat or less and whose container is recyclable?

Woman:  No, sir. I do not.

Man:  Well, I have the bin for organic waste and bins for glass, for paper, for aluminum cans, for plastic containers. I know where to put my chicken bones. I have a bin for batteries. And I have a compost heap in the back garden for organic waste.

Woman:  Sir, do you have a container in your kitchen for trash?

Man:  Yes, I do.

Woman:  What’s in it?

Man:  Nothing.

Woman:  Nothing?

Man:  No. I never have any real trash any more. In fact sometimes I use my kitchen trashcan to store fruits and cookies.

Woman:  Sir, that kitchen trashcan should be for your Mama Bear Margarine containers. Man:  What will I do with my cookies?

Woman:  A cookie jar might work, sir.

Man:  Yes, of course. Thank you. I didn’t mean to be such a wuss about this. It was just that all my other margarine containers went into the plastics bin, and, you know, I want to do the right thing. Because I was told that Rule Number One in recycling (it’s in capital letters here in my recycling notice) is "DON’T TRASH YOUR RECYCLABLES!" Something classified as Rule Number One strikes me as pretty important, like "I am the God thy Father, thou shalt not have strange gods before me."

Woman:  I think you’re making the right decision to call the office, sir. But I think you’ll be okay putting your container in the garbage.Man:  I heard that you can destroy recycling equipment if you put such things in the wrong bin. That was another reason I called.

Woman:  Sir, if you’ll feel any better, I’ll alert our recycling unit to look out for your Mama Bear Margarine containers.

Man:  Yes, that would make me feel a lot better.

Woman:  (she’s doing nothing) I’m making a note now. Thank you for calling, sir.

Man:  Don’t you want my address?

Woman:  Of course, your address?

Man:  It’s 984 Bowmont Ave. I’m just north of Ridgeway Ave. Just tell the pick–up men I’m the yellow gate with the scalloped arch. And that the Mama Bear Margarine container will be in the large gray plastic trash can.

Woman:  Yellow gate with the scalloped arch. Large gray trash can. Got it. So thank you so much for your call. And we’ll look out for your Mama Bear Margarine container.Man:  Thank you again. I think I feel a lot better. I made one mistake last year, when I threw out an old set of batteries, and I didn’t sleep for a week.Woman:  Not to worry. I’ll alert the Environmental Protection Agency too, sir, about your batteries. They’ll know what to do.

Man:  Thank you. Tell them that I put them into a little yellow plastic bag I believe is biodegradable, so they may not notice them right away. Woman:  I’ll make a note of that, sir. L–i–t–t–l–e y–e–l–l–o–w b–a–g.Man:  It may also have chicken bones in it. Before I knew about the chicken bones, I would sometimes put them into separate little bags with batteries and stuff like that. Do chicken skins go in with the chicken bones?

Woman:  I think the chicken bones would be best without the skins.Man:  That’s what I thought. Oh, that reminds me. I’m not sure what I do with lubricants and solvents. Can you give me any advice on where I can stick the lubricants and solvents? Woman:  (frustrated) Yes, I can.Man:  And where would that be?Woman:  (Long empty pause. She wants desperately to say it.)

© Ed Tasca

About the author: 
Ed Tasca was born and raised in Philly – and survived, although he still sometimes awakes at 3 AM with night terrors. He doesn’t know why he turned to writing humor, when it was always estate planning that put that charismatic sparkle in his eyes. He’s won a number of awards for humor, and he always adds, he also does his own dry walling. His latest comic novella, The Fishing Trip That Got Away, is currently available anywhere you buy books online or through local bookstores, and can be opened and browsed effortlessly and hidden within your copy of Satanic Verses during book club discussions of Salman Rushdie.

Look for more of Ed’s work at or, if you are in the Mexican region of Chapala (where he has retired and learned to live on ten colored beads a day), you might see some of his essays in any of the local English–speaking publications there, several of which come with numbered pages. Ed is mighty important these days. He won the 2010 Robert Benchley Society Award for humor.

Ed advises to enjoy the silliness here. Life’s full of it and so are we. The problem is few of us are willing to admit to it, even when we’re caught red–handed.

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©Margie Culbertson

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