Robert’s review: Even though we are stuck in the house together, all is harmonious, and all small indiscretions are graciously forgiven; but if you need me I will be retreating to the workshop in the basement for the rest of the day. FROM THE WRITER: For your amusement, I have allowed a couple of the editor’s comments to remain in the text! I miss my office.
I bought four tangerines at the supermarket. I was so happy to see them for sale in singles rather than having to buy a whole bag and letting some of them rot. I can eat only so many tangerines in a week without sharing or tossing, so I had not bought a bag of them recently. I washed one tangerine thoroughly and placed it on the counter to dry. It tasted delightfully tangy and had just the right amount of juice for dribbling down my chin. I decided to wash the rest of them. I placed them neatly on a paper towel to dry. The next day I ate one for breakfast and left the other two where they were. Later that day, one was missing. Good, I thought, I’m happy to share with my husband. I moved the last one over on the counter to save for the next morning.
The next morning, the tangerine was gone! Well, that’s two for him and two for me. I reached into the fruit bowl for a banana. There sat the tangerine, in the bowl of unwashed fruit. I sighed and took it out, washed it and set it out to dry. I’ll have it for lunch, I thought. At lunchtime, the tangerine was again missing. And, sure enough, it had found its way back among the unwashed fruit. This coursed through my mind: Does he think this tangerine is a renegade escapee from the fruit bowl? Does it not cross his mind that someone is purposefully moving the tangerine into a position of potential consumption? I took the tangerine from the bowl, washed it and hid it behind the crockery that houses my cooking utensils.
Then I forgot about it. For two days. Why do you think I put it in a prominent spot to begin with? This morning, when I got up, the tangerine was in the fruit bowl. Is nothing sacred? There has been no mention of the pesky, wandering fruit from my husband. I asked him if he noticed any problems with migrating citrus lately. He looked at me as if this house-bound incarceration must really be getting to me. Then I explained my own experience of tangerine trajectories of the past few days. Fruit, no matter its current condition (in this case washed), belongs in the fruit bowl, I was informed. He acted on the situation without thinking about it, taught to corral fruit into its designated place by early childhood conditioning. Perhaps there is some potential here for training the TV remote to return to its home on the coffee table. (Editor’s comment: Not very likely)
It is May now and the days are warming up. We are throwing open the windows, taking the opportunity to allow the breezes to cool the house and deliver fresh mountain air. One night, it was 77 degrees inside as we were getting ready for bed. It would be a warm night for sleeping. As usual, I prepared the house for our nightly retirement. Checked that the doors were locked, the stove and oven off, the windows closed. I went into the kitchen to get the dog a treat for so wonderfully getting into her crate for the night. The window was open! I thought I had already closed it. The back door was open. I thought I had already locked it! On my way back to the bedroom, I found a living room window open! I suspected the culprit was in the bathroom.
I closed everything up again and dove into bed after rewarding the dog with her treat. I left the bedroom window open to enjoy the cooler air from outside. My husband stood harrumphing in the bedroom doorway, casually eating a tangerine no less. Why did I close the windows when he wanted to cool the house off in the ten minutes it took him to brush his teeth and do other pre-bedtime stuff? I had already closed them. He had come along after me, unannounced, and opened them again. I was actually getting into bed and the windows needed to be closed, so I closed them. I have childhood conditioning of my own. Many deep sighs later, the windows were reopened for the two minutes it would take to put on pajamas, then closed again, all of them. It was going to rain during the night. We both feel the need to protect our home, just in different, sometimes conflicting ways.
My kitchen is mine! Mine, mine, mine! I know what tools and trinkets I have in my kitchen. I chose where they reside within my domain so as to maximize their recovery and use. My husband washes the dishes. Things go missing. Last week I could not find my one-cup, Pyrex measuring cup. I looked in the places I might find it already occupied. The dishwasher, the drainboard, the refrigerator, to no avail. I went over the list of usual suspects. I made a discrete inquiry. There’s a beer-brewing operation housed in my basement, which sometimes requires the borrowing of certain enviable accoutrements. The appropriation of my Pyrex cup was denied. The next day, I spotted it gleaming in the dish rack. Was I blinded by it yesterday, so much so that I was not able to see it sitting there? This was a case of inexplicable kitchenware reappearance.
A few days ago, I used the blender. I carefully washed it and left it to drain in the dish rack. I later noticed the unwashed bottom piece, which holds the blade apparatus and screws into the bottom of the blender bowl. I carefully placed it next to the sink so that it would get washed with the dinner dishes. It could not be found for three days. I waited patiently for a confession. None came. There are only three beings with movable limbs residing in this household. I eliminated two of them as possible culprits. The one remaining suspect refused to budge. He sorted through the garbage in case the blender bottom got swept up with the kitchen trash. After combing through all the cupboards and drawers, he finally found the piece along with the missing grater, happily commingling with the parchment paper and the chopsticks in the bottom kitchen drawer. That’s not where they go. My man finally owned up to misplacing them and also finding them. It’s like living with Columbo.
We are all stuck in this house for an undetermined length of time. Twenty-four seven. Together. We are getting along. I forgive him for absent-mindedly putting away the clean dishes in the wrong places and he forgives me for thwarting his every effort to control the temperature inside the house. We both forgive the dog for barking madly at everything that moves and for insisting on playing with the ball right in front of the couch, requiring our multitudinous assistance to fetch it out from underneath said couch before she destroys our furniture in her own attempts at ball recovery. I’m sure the dog forgives us for calling her unflattering names and informing strangers of her bad behavior before she even gets a chance to display it for them.
Our daily walks give us all a break from the four granite walls that are our fortress in a storm. The storm in this case is the threat to our health. We are grateful for having a house and for living in this awesome community. We agree on supporting our local restaurants as often as we can and for connecting with our neighbors outside with conversation about our shared predicament and how fortunate we are despite the situation. May your own household be as happy and harmonious as ours and may all your inanimate objects abstain from mysteriously moving about.
Know when to fold ’em,
Guest Editor Robert is a good editor to have in a pinch. Even though I email the story to him, he is close enough to verbalize what needs to be changed. This story was so last minute, I was happy to include his (snarky) comments.