77 Different Kinds of Plastic and How To Tell Them Apart

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“One of the most important researchers in plastic sound-altitude studies was not my brother. I thought he was for a while.”

See, the thing with plastic is that you have to know how it sounds. Plastic bags, for example. They sound a lot like plastic wrap, but only at certain altitudes.

One of the most important researchers in plastic sound-altitude studies was not my brother. I thought he was for a while. We were like brothers, though, I mean, we would send each other birthday cards at Christmas and the whole rigamarole. But we never talked about plastic. “I don’t want to get my brothers involved in this plastic business,” he’d say. I guess he wasn’t talking about me when he said it. When he died I sent his wife a new shower curtain made of- guess what- plastic.

The other thing he liked to do was go camping. This guy who wasn’t my brother, I mean. Not his widow. She didn’t care two ways from Sunday about camping, but she loved that opera about the depressed Spaniard who goes to chef school. In 1978 that opera was performed in Brussels, Belgium, for the president of the plastics industry. He’s the guy who runs the whole plastic world from behind the scenes. Nobody knows his name or what he looks like now, because he died and someone else took his place. I told them they should’ve looked on the back of his ticket stub.

The excitement of new plastic is tempered only by the smell, which makes you feel really high. One time I visited a plastic factory and as a gift they brought me one of those things you can put soup in when it’s frozen. There was no soup in it and when I started eating out of it they all started laughing. How was I supposed to know there wasn’t going to be soup in it? The bad part was that the plastic hadn’t dried all the way so I ate some of the melted plastic. I stormed out of there so fast that it made their heads spin. Johnny Cash drove home with me and he told me that it was the bravest thing that he ever saw. Then he and Cochise the warrior and his daughter Marie sang to me all the way home. That was one hell of a ride.

To summarize human understanding of plastic up to this point: plastic comes from salt mines, but not the salt mines you think of when you think of plastic. And that reminds me of one more thing: how come you can’t tell Heinz ketchup to stick it where the sun don’t shine on the back of their labels anymore? It used to be there and now it’s got nutrition facts. Some egghead ruined the whole thing. They don’t listen to their customers I guess.

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