Blame It On The Paint
A can of paint should come with a warning. Something like this:Caution. This product may be hazardous to your health. The painting of any room in your house may lead to unwanted fits of spring cleaning, which everyone knows will kill you, so put it back on the shelf right now, I don’t care if a salesperson named Carl has already mixed the colors and put it in the machine that shakes the lumps out of it and has given you those big Popsicle sticks for stirring. I’m the Surgeon General for crying out loud, if I don’t know what I’m talking about, who does? And you can just forget about blaming me if your marriage breaks up when you use your husband’s favorite bowling shirt for a tack rag. I think there’s a clause about this somewhere, probably on the other side of the can.
I bought it anyway. And the Surgeon General was right. It did lead to spring cleaning. In order to paint the walls, we had to find them first. Voila! Spring cleaning.
We decided to start in the kitchen. Big mistake. One of the problems of painting the walls of any room, is now, by comparison, everything in the room looks like it was delivered by the Mayflower folks, the ones with the funny hats and a thing for buckles, not the guys in the overalls with the big truck. Everything looks old, dingy, in need of a good wash with one of those high-power hoses.
We made a second big mistake. The paint can didn’t warn us about this one either, but it should have. We got it into our heads that we should paint the cabinets, too. This came from watching one too many makeover programs on the Home & Garden channel, which ought to come with a warning of its own. Something like this:Caution. The viewing of this channel may be hazardous to your health. Excessive exposure to home makeover programs has been linked to delusions of grandeur. Face it pal, Bob Villa you ain’t. Remember the spackling compound incident? You thought your hair would never grow back, am I right? Of course I am, I’m the Surgeon General, for Pete’s sake.
Painting the cabinets meant taking the doors off. Which meant exposing the contents within. Which meant I am a slob.
Big mistake number three. I looked behind the front row of items in the cabinets--back there in the dark, the no-man’s land of condiments, the elephant’s graveyard of spices. I made a gruesome discovery. My paprika had died. I’d better explain before you start sending sympathy cards. (Hallmark has a nice selection; “Our thoughts are with you in the loss of your nutmeg”
I had read in one of those housekeeping magazines, you know, the ones intended to make every homemaker, with the possible exception of Martha Stewart and Heloise, feel like a complete and utter failure, that my paprika had a shelf life of only four months. Who uses paprika more than once a year anyway? Everyone knows that paprika was invented for one purpose only; to raise the self esteem of deviled eggs. The expiration date on my container of paprika was written in Roman numerals. I’m pretty sure it was an heirloom wedding gift from my grandmother. I plan on passing it down to my children when I go, I don’t care what Martha says.
Back there, where no woman has ever dared to go, in the darkest recesses of my cabinets--I found they were full of deceased spices. But their packages and containers were still so colorful, so... lifelike. After coming to terms with the undeniable, that I was indeed a condiment killer, I did the only fitting thing and gave them a proper send-off to the compost pile.
If the cabinets had been any indication of the carnage that I was capable of, what horrors would the refrigerator hold? I’ve heard that the latest in plastic storage ware is the see-through kind. Makes sense. You can know what you have in there. This is not my philosophy, however, when it comes to leftovers. I’m more of the “I didn’t like it the first time, I don’t want to see it again“ camp. Old non-dairy whipped topping bowls are the answer. They’re opaque and have the added feature of making me think I always have topping on hand for those rare occasions when I make dessert.
The down side (or in my way of thinking, the upside) of the non-dairy whipped topping container is, food left inside too long goes bad--unnoticed. As I write this, we are well into the first weeks of spring. After many months of jockeying for position on the shelves of my fridge, a bowl of turkey gravy from Thanksgiving has worked its way to the front. And how do I know that it’s gravy, do you ask, if it’s in a no-see opaque Cool Whip bowl? Because we had dessert last night, that’s how. But at least I found the gravy and put it out of its misery at last.
The ultimate redeeming quality of the non-dairy whipped topping bowl is that they are disposable. I know, I know. This is very bad form for one who extols the virtues of recycling. But we all have our limits, our moments of weakness. Mine happens to be when a foamy, green ooze begins to appear around the lid of the bowl. I’d be a fool to open that one. Admit it, you wouldn’t either.
So, thanks to the irresponsible paint industry I have begun a spring cleaning project comparable in scope and size to the building of the Panama Canal, only without all that water and the pith helmets.
Tomorrow, mistake number four; I take on the junk drawer. I wonder what the Surgeon General would say about that.