Since merging two households — our daughter, her husband and their three little ones are temporarily living with us as they wait for their new house to be finished — we have made a surprising discovery.
We knew closets would be full. We knew there would be toys and baby gear covering the floors. We even knew the garage would bulge.
What we didn’t know was that the most densely packed space in the entire house would be the refrigerator.
Our local newspaper once ran a feature titled, “What’s in your ‘fridge?” where they published a short paragraph listing what people had in their refrigerators.
Make a list of what is now in our fridge, and you’re looking at a 300-page book. And that’s just Volume 1.
Want balsamic vinegar? We have it in duplicate. Ditto for soy sauce, mustard and ketchup.
Pickles? You could open a deli.
Cheese? Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, Asiago or mozzarella? Would you like that in blocks, slices or shredded?
The problem isn’t that the contents of two refrigerators merged into one, but that two women can’t stop shopping. Two women, neither of whom can, nor ever will, yield control of the kitchen. The kitchen is where dynasties are built. Nobody yields a dynasty.
There was an initial agreement to meal plan together and shop once a week.
It lasted until I was able to find my keys, slip out of the house, swing by the store and pick up a few things.
Then she slipped out of the house, stopped by the store and picked up a few things. There is so much slipping in and out and swinging by the store that some days we nearly crash our cars in the driveway.
Turns out our agreement was an agreement made in mutual bad faith.
Do you know what happens when two women try to rule the same kitchen and keep stopping by the store to pick up a few things?
There is an explosion — an explosion of leftovers.
We now have 29,765 small containers stacked in the ‘fridge with a few bites of this and a few bites of that. We live in fear of the day they all go bad at the same time, emit fumes, blow their sealed lids and blow up the refrigerator.
The explosion will probably take the entire kitchen with it.
When the dust clears and the last of the pasta finishes sliding down the walls, we will both still be standing, still battling for control.
Our daughter keeps explaining that we can avert disaster if I will simply abide by her meal planning chart that shows the menu for each night and the ingredients needed for each meal.
“When you write the ingredients down with the meal you are making, you will always have what you need,” she calmly explains.
I nod as though such a fact is entirely new to me and note that the meal schedule says we are having cilantro honey-lime chicken tonight.
“Did you get cilantro?” I ask.
“I’ll get my car keys.”
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.