Cleaning out the Fridge

dirtyfridgeI have mixed feelings about this column.  Maybe there should be a parental disclaimer attached to it.  Something like:  The information contained in this column may not be fit for children, overly sensitive lap dogs, or older people with gastro intestinal problems.  Be warned.

It’s time to talk refrigerator cleaning.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Go ahead and admit it.  Every normal person in America has let the refrigerator get “out of hand” at one point or another.  Notice I said every “normal” person.  Yes, there are people who have NEVER let the refrigerator get “out of hand.”  But these people are NOT normal.  They are the ones who alphabetize the pantry items, organize the condiment jars according to height, and clean out the oven on a regular basis with oven cleaner and Brillo pads.  I also get the sneaking suspicion that these are the same people who use vacuum cleaner attachments.  I’ve always wondered why attachments came with the vacuum cleaner.  I think the person with the alphabetized pantry knows why.  No.  I don’t want to know.

For the rest of you, I feel the need to put your mind at ease.  You’re not alone.  All of us have been there.  We get busy and overwhelmed.  We keep shoving stuff into the refrigerator.  All  items naturally “drift” to the back.  It’s a disaster waiting to happen.  Yes, things turn blue and green.   Stop crying, friend.  It’s not too late.  I have a plan.

Step #1 involves removing every item from the refrigerator and placing it on the kitchen counter.  Get it all.  Yes, even the mustard jar that’s been stuck on the second shelf of the refrigerator door for three years and has to be pried out with a crow bar.  Now.  Everything is out.  The temptation will be to scrub and scrub and even sand blast all the hardened particles until the refrigerator looks brand new.  Don’t do it.  Perfection is not the goal, friend.  A hot soapy rag over every surface.  Done.

Now, you’re faced with a crucial decision.  Perhaps it’s the most crucial decision of all.   The light green Tupperware container your aunt gave you for high school graduation contains baked beans from the Christmas church potluck of ‘09.  It’s May of 2010.  You don’t wanna look.  You beg your kids to look.  They scream and vow that they would rather be eaten by wolves than remove that airtight lid.  Is it worth it?  Hard to say.  You desperately want to just throw it in the trash.  But that seems wasteful. No.  I won’t decide for you.  Let your conscience be your guide.  fridge_cleaning

In regard to some other items, let me make myself clear.  Throw the salad dressing away.  Yes, all of it. That bag of half-eaten salad needs to go too.  I know.  You didn’t know a big bag of red grapes got trapped behind the cabbage head a few months ago.  Unless you own a winery, throw the grapes out.  Blue/green tortilla?  Out.  Fuzzy strawberries?  Stop sayin’, “What a waste.  What a waste.”  Just throw it out, friend.  Show some courage, would you?

When you get the refrigerator completely clean, you will do what we always do.  You will say, “Never again.  We will forever live clean.”  Yeah.  Good luck with that.  Might wanna cut out this column and throw it in the junk drawer “just in case.”

Confidence is Like Chocolate Milk

Glass of Chocolate Milk with Two StrawsConfidence is a lot like chocolate milk.  A little bit is wonderful, but too much can make you sick.  I remember that time in fourth grade when several friends gave me their chocolate milk.  I thought their generosity was a great blessing.   It was a banner day.   But after math class, things turned sour.  For me and for the janitor.  Confidence is a lot like that.  A little bit makes for a sweet life.  But too much confidence can bring utter ruin.

I’m writing this column from the Dallas Airport.  I’ve learned a lot of things about life from watching people at the airport.  For example, this 20-something guy sitting next to me is trying to impress the girl in the pink shoes who is sitting across from us.   But it’s not working.  He’s going down in flames.  Is he good looking?  Yes.  But the girl has an expression on her face that looks gravely familiar.  Yeah, it’s almost identical to the expression on my face when I told Mrs. Smith I was feeling a little queasy after math class.

Why does the girl look so sad and unimpressed?  It’s simple.  The guy next to me is a little too confident.  He’s selling himself like a used hot tub on E-Bay.  He just told her he plays guitar in this band and they’re on their way to Houston to play at a big club there.  He believes the place will be packed out all weekend.  They cut an album this year and it’s available on I-tunes.  Oh, and he’s also been on TV before.

But the girl in the pink shoes is just staring at him.  She’s not saying a word.  In fact, she’s eating her Subway sandwich in a way that makes us all believe that she doesn’t even care if she gets mustard on her face.  And I think all of us at Gate 18 suspect that his TV debut had nothing to do with his band.  I have a feeling he appeared on a local news broadcast because he witnessed a chubby guy steal a DVD player from Target.

I know for certain I could help the poor guy but I fear he wouldn’t take counsel from a middle-aged stranger.  Plus, he hasn’t stopped talking long enough for me to tell him that the plane is on fire and he should have bailed out ten minutes ago.

This young man needs to learn an age-old concept which would change his life.  He needs to learn the art of the question.  He’s so busy selling himself that he hasn’t really communicated with the girl in the pink shoes.  He hasn’t asked whether she’s traveling for business or fun.  He hasn’t asked what she studied in college or whether she’s from the south originally.  He’s been busy telling her about himself.  His self-confidence isn’t just brimming.  It’s overflowing onto the floor and making a big mess.  And no one at Gate 18 has a big enough mop.Overconfidence

Spending some quality time with this young man has taught me that we all need to do a confidence check now and then to make sure our perspective hasn’t soured.  Here’s a question to ponder truthfully.  Do you think you’re better than most people?   If you do, well, it’s a sure sign you’re not.