Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Can You Smell That?

I am totally my mother's daughter. I'm sure that some women say this with a hint of sarcasm...but not me. It's almost always a compliment. Almost.

There are undoubtedly things that could stand some improvement from one generation to the next. I know that somewhere up in Heaven, Mom's nodding vigorously at this sentiment.

For one thing, Mom was a big fan of self-improvement. This included (but was not limited to) vigorous exercise (ew.) and a LOWFAT diet. Long before restricting your fat intake became a popular method for losing weight, Mom could recite how many grams of fat were in...say ice cream. Or a hot dog. We began to notice that she would say a “high” number of fat grams for anything even remotely tasty. The “low” numbers were reserved for things like rice cakes, or fruit.

Eventually, she declared that "If it tastes delicious, it's probably loaded with fat." Which is not such a leap from that old New Yawk expression that "If it sounds too good to be true..."

She was a very wise woman.

I remember the day they came out with FAT FREE ice cream. It was vanilla (big whoop) and Mom was probably the first (and maybe the only) person who purchased it. She was thrilled that they'd invented this...I don't think she doubted for a second that she was going to eat it...whether it tasted good or not. With all those FAT GRAMS in traditional ice cream, she probably hadn’t had any since college, so I doubt she’d remember what it tasted like anyway.

It was AWFUL. Think cardboard box meets eggbeaters. When I commented on this, she said it was FINE. A little FAT FREE chocolate syrup on top and it's FINE. She said she could live with it.

Unfortunately, she lived with some things a little longer than she should have. Such as the food in her fridge. She was notorious for keeping things in there longer than anyone reasonably should.

You see where I'm going with this.

It doesn't happen often, but there’s this smell. WHAT IS THAT SMELL? It wasn't there yesterday. Is it in the garbage? Did someone shove a half-eaten unwanted grilled cheese sandwich behind the toaster oven (again)?! It usually takes me a full day to realize that the smell is associated with the opening and closing of the fridge.

Enter Taylor...16 years old...who on average can consume more food in one day than the rest of us put together, even if all of us are really, really hungry. Now, how often would you guess he opens and closes that door? So, Boo-Boo..."being smarter than the average bear", I put two and two together and NOW THE SMELL HAS BEEN ISOLATED.

What ensues is a debate over what's "good" and what's "bad". With the fridge door now wide open, offensive odor muddling all logical thought, we try to identify the quality of the contents…first by color, then by smell. First is always the milk and since I only smell milk in this context, I’ve no idea what “good” milk smells like. Neither does anyone else evidently…so it’s immediately suspect and usually gets the heave-ho. I truly believe this is a conspiracy promoted by the Milk Association to ensure high sales…it’s probably a running joke at their office. Then it’s on to cheese, fruits and vegetables.

“What color does this look like to you?” I ask Taylor/Connor/the dog.

Taylor is colorblind, so his answer is usually an educated guess: “Green…ish blue?”

This is usually followed by a heated discussion as to what color the item in question was in the market, where conditions such as light and (let’s be honest here) freshness come heavily into play. The end result is usually “toss”…just to err on the side of preserving one’s intestinal function.

And just a suggestion: You might want to discard these items in a separate trash bag (versus your kitchen one), or you’re likely to revert back to the original question of “WHAT IS THAT SMELL?”…putting you essentially back to square one.

Quit laughing…I only did that once….lesson learned. Mom would be so proud.

Anonymous said...

Too funny. Love the milke conspiracy theory. So true that most people can't determine if the milk has gone bad.

kathryn said...

Hey Anonymous,
I'd normally be a little uncomfortable with speaking to a total stranger, but since you're so POSITIVE and all...
Seriously, who thinks to smell the milk when you first bring it home?
There's your frame of reference...not that I'd remember.
Thanks for posting!

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