I enjoy cleaning. I know it’s surprising—and not often thought of as a recreational activity. And it’s not that I clean for fun. In fact, sometimes the task appears daunting before I begin. However, there is something so satisfying after the cleaning is complete; there you are, sitting in a house with a sparkling bathroom, shining floors, dust-free bookshelves and an empty laundry basket. I find it peaceful, soothing and relaxing.
I’m not afraid of cleaning either. Give me cobwebs and inches of dust—the kerchief goes on the hair, the broom comes out and the spiders scatter, no problem. Show me an oven buried in grease and within seconds it will be giving way to my comet and elbow grease. Even a bathroom devoured by mold is an unintimidating foe. I am mold’s worst enemy—and I have many witnesses of roommates and mission companions who can testify. No sweat, I will have that bathroom whiter than white with the mold ne’er to return—as long as I’m around. But, put one Tupperware full of casserole that has seen better days in front of me, and I will instantly go queasy.
By queasy I mean that my face will drain of all blood, my head will start spinning and my stomach will try to regurgitate any scrap it can squeeze out. I think it’s trying to prove that even my resurrected lunch is more appetizing than what is contained in that Tupperware. By the way, all of this happens before I even open the lid of the container.
Why can I face such nastiness in other places without flinching and then turn to jelly with one squishy peach in the fridge? I have decided that the issue is not the mold or even the smell. After all, moldy showers don’t bother me and I have smelled toilets that were beyond pungent. It is the location, pure and simple. Something so foul should not be allowed to habitat the place where food is prepared, served and eaten.
I have missed the companionship of a husband beyond explanation since this divorce. I miss it when I come home to an empty house. I miss it when I go to a party and I am the only spouseless person in the room. I miss it when I wake up in the morning to an empty bed. However, there is NO TIME I miss it more than when I have to clean out the fridge.
Since I dread this task so much, I put it off as long as humanely possible. One Tupperware gets stacked in a corner of a shelf as soon as it is questionable. Soon, a container of cottage cheese that must be nearing its expiration date gets added to the pile. After that, a tomato looking a little too soft. Slowly, the pile grows—casserole upon soup next to dried out spaghetti. The dubious food takes over its own shelf, kept away from the rest of the fridge to avoid contamination and spreading. Eventually, the fateful day arrives—the day I run out of clean Tupperware. At this point, there is nothing left to do but attack the pile with full force.
Watching me clean out the fridge would be quite an entertaining experience. It is no small feat—especially considering the fact that my kitchen has no garbage disposal. I start by layering on as many pairs of gloves as I own. With an apron and a “flu mask” in place, I gag my way through each container, trying not to dwell on the contents. Expletives fly freely from my mouth—I swear it holds back the vomit. When the offending food is fully removed from the Tupperware (by a plastic utensil to avoid one more filthy item to scrub) the garbage must be disposed of as soon as possible. I always make sure to hold the garbage bag as far away from the body as my arm can reach—I know what is squishing around in that bag. To finish, I scour everything, the Tupperware, sink and fridge shelf with bleach until my nose hairs are singed.
The solution to the problem? Unless I have someone else to cook for, I have given up cooking. It’s not that I am lazy. It’s not that I am depressed about cooking only for myself. It’s not that I want to eat fast food. It’s not even that I don’t enjoy cooking, because I do! I simply know that no matter what, I will NEVER finish that soup, that head of lettuce, that roast, or that lasagna by myself. The leftovers will sit there in the fridge, gathering bacteria and laughing at me as they start to fuzz.