Kitchen Rules

If you are what you eat, then I’m fast, cheap, and easy. But, I can live with that. What I can’t live with—yet have been forced to endure—is a messy kitchen. Every day I wonder how my sacred space ends up looking like a before photo on a hoarding show. Well, not quite that bad, but you get the idea. And the ironic part is that I’m a very neat person. Not up to the tidiness level of OCD—I don’t bleach grout with Clorox and Q-Tips—but I wipe counters, wash dishes, and scour sinks. So why is my kitchen always stained with a Rorschach test of drips, spills, and splashes?

Let me answer this question in one word: Husband.

My husband is a messy guy. He doesn’t mean to be; it just comes naturally, like snoring. I’ve lived with this for over thirty years—the messiness, not the snoring; that was cued with a C-Pap machine—yet still I insist on believing that I can retrain him when I know, deep down in my heart, that this bit of wisdom is true: Shoes don’t stretch and men don’t change.

He can’t even see that he’s wreaking havoc in my kitchen. It’s called Inattention Blindness. Cereal dropped and crushed on the beige marble floor, dripping teabags abandoned on the white Corian counter, and dirty dishes left on top of the dishwasher, never inside; he’s blind to all these things because to him, they don’t matter. And besides, somehow they all magically disappear.

Yes, I’m a magician in the kitchen.

But sometimes I’m so sick of the mess I just want to make Molotov cocktails for two and burn the whole thing.

My husband also suffers from a subset of this affliction called: Refrigerator Blindness. That’s why I get questions like, “Honey, where’s the Swiss cheese?”

““Where it’s always been,” I say. “In the cheese drawer.”

“Where’s that?”

“In the refrigerator that we have owned for 18 years.”

But in his defense, this one he can’t help. I believe this phenomenon has a strong hereditary component because once on a visit my mother-in-law asked me the classic, never-to-be-forgotten, “Dear, where do you keep your ice cubes?”

“Oh, they’re in the pantry beside the Cheerios.” Note the eye roll.

Yet, there is a flip side to this condition, a yin and yang, if you will. My husband has converted our three-car garage into a spotless workshop where he can tell you the exact location of every single tool. And he owns thousands. Need a metric four-millimeter Phillip’s head screwdriver with a short shank? Second drawer from the top of the Kennedy tool chest, left-hand side.

You know what? I believe I’ve just stumbled upon an answer to my problem. I should build another kitchen in the garage. It would not only be sparkling clean, my husband would know where everything is.

Now you might think I’m mean, that’s it’s not kosher—no pun intended—to make my husband keep a second kitchen. But being mean and clean—now that’s something I can live with.