As you may have been able to discern from recent columns, my parents and in-laws were visiting from back east. They left a couple weeks ago. We are still recovering.
Namely, as it pertains to the refrigerator.
To open our refrigerator of late is to be immediately greeted with the reminder that, on one hand, we are loved, and on the other, what the heck?
I’ll start with my own parents who, when they were here, went out to lunch every day and who, because my mom has literally never finished a food item or drink to completion in 60-plus years, brought us home the leftovers:
“I couldn’t finish my chicken wrap, so I brought you guys home the rest. Mike, maybe you can take it to work for lunch? I know you don’t eat meat, but you can pick out the chicken. Just be careful, because it gave me a little diarrhea, but I’m not sure if it was that or the breakfast burrito.* Anyway, it was really good!”
*also in the fridge
It should be mentioned that my parents refuse to condense their leftover food gifts in a container that would utilize space, but instead squeeze it into the fridge in its squeaky, Styrofoam container that in itself is in a big plastic bag, pushing back further into the dark fridge abyss the Styrofoam contained leftovers they brought back the previous day.
This is in addition to the day-to-day items they purchased just to get by, physically. For example, the chocolate milk my mom needs to recover from her intense running workouts, and yogurt-based digestive aids to help both of their stomachs recover from the after-effects of supposedly delicious chicken wraps. To be more specific, they need their Danimals, which are yogurt drinks that are intended for small children. My dad will say, shaking his head condescendingly, “You know Mom, with her chocolate milk,” as he takes a shot from his Danimals container that features a cartoon bear riding a skateboard over a yogurt waterfall.
My in-laws are no better. Now believe me, I am not complaining, since I do not have to go grocery shopping, make my lunch, or perform any food-related task sans eating while they are visiting. Still, I cannot keep up:
“Did you take the fish for lunch?”
“No—I brought the pasta from the other day.”
“OK, OK, the fish should still be good for tomorrah. Here, take these zucchini patties for lunch. We’re making fish tonight.”
I’m pretty sure my mother-in-law believes she is absolved from the sin of wasting food if the responsibility to finish it is bestowed on me, but it would be helpful if my father-in-law were not so averse to heating up leftovers as a means of preparing dinner. It is not an option. You have never seen someone so disgusted by the thought of heating up something he himself had made less than 24 hours prior which he, when he was consuming it, claimed was the most delicious thing he had ever created.
My wife and I spent the better part of last weekend throwing out weeks-old fish and humongous Styrofoam containers with indistinguishable contents. And Danimals, which we refuse to give our children because of the artificial ingredients. Oh, and the half a banana my father-in-law left in our fruit basket that was now covered in fruit flies. Apparently, an entire banana is just too much to consume in one sitting, and surely someone else will find the remainder of this rapidly browning banana appetizing enough to eat, especially when placed on top of its ripe, yellow, inviting brethren. Sheesh.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, we miss them.
Note: This column appears in the 6/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/6 issue of the Peoria Times.