I don't think people understand how even the simplest maintenance tasks can be daunting for those of us less gifted, shall we say, in the arts of housewifery. One of my friends refused to come to the pool with us today, because, as she said, "I have to clean out my refrigerator. It's so full, I can't fit anything else in there."
[I assume all of you use this criteria for refrigerator cleaning, also? If not, move right along, nothing for you to see here. Go visit your cute little Martha Stewart chat groups, all right?]
"Can't this wait until later?" I asked. "I hate going to the pool by myself."
"No, this is a major job. I have to do it, and I have to do it now." This last was uttered with the grim determination of a fireman heading into a burning building.
"Okay," I said, "I've been there. How about you wait until tomorrow and I'll come over for moral support?" [Yes, I am a good friend. The best, in fact...] "I've seen it all, so far as food mismanagement goes. Nothing will surprise me."
"No, tomorrow my father-in-law will be here; I can't do it in front of him." Oh, yes, the perils of household mismanagement and its attendant shame! "He'll be sickened by the amount of wasted food. I'm wracked with guilt every time I look in my frig."
Who knew that a household appliance could be the source of so much angst? But she's right - there must be a hundred things in my house that scream at me, "You're doing it wrong! What is your problem?!" The piles of unsorted mail on the kitchen hutch, the stray socks and underwear littering the floor in front of the washer and dryer, the laundry basket full of I-don't-know-what that has become a permanent fixture in my bedroom - they all bear silent testament to the fact that, as far as running a household with the calm efficiency of a June Cleaver or a Donna Reed character, I am an utter failure.
"You don't understand," my friend continued. "There are strawberries in there so old that they look like they're covered in cream sauce." Silence. Then, the sound of weeping.
"Hey, wait a second. Pull yourself together," I begged. "Old food isn't worth this. You went to law school, babe; you can't let this bring you down."
"Look," I said, feeling desperate. "I want you to know, you're not alone in this. I'm going to take pictures of the inside of my refrigerator and e-mail them to you. It's a sickening sight, but if it would make you feel better..."
"You'd do that for me?" she sniffed.
"Hey - what are friends for?"