This is a nagging psychological problem, occurring more or less every day, since I’ve been married. In fact, it probably (almost certainly) existed before, but since I was in control of grocery shopping and refrigerator management, it never manifest itself as an issue. Maybe you or you’re trusted psychologist friend can tell me what you think and why. Is this run of the mill neurosis? A deep-seated fear of death in the guise of food perishability? Is this controlling personality in full force? Some combo?
Inside the frig there’s an enormous Tupperware of last night’s salad. By enormous, I mean the biggest money can buy. We use it for popcorn and for storing enormous amounts of salad. Kate made the salad. Phenomenal. Spinach, chard, kale, carrot, baby tomato, onion, cilantro, bell pepper, feta, bacon, almond.
In the frig, next to the enormous salad, there’s an 11Ib container of Greek Yogurt, which I bought from Black Sheep Coffee for $28 because it’s made with goat’s milk and 9% milk fat and no sugar and OMG so damn delicious creamy smooth. 11Ibs is damn large. But not necessarily for our consumption. We go through about 2 Ibs of yogurt per day. 2 Ibs is the standard yogurt container size sold in normal grocery stores. 11Ibs is shopped from Restaurant Depot.
Everything else in the frig is irrelevant, at least for the purposes of this analysis. If it’s not irrelevant, the is other stuff in the frig—just in low quantities, safely low. Broccoli, oranges, apples, eggs, dates, cherries, blueberries, carbonated water, cheese.
Safely low. I’d flag this phrase for psychological examination.
By contrast, the salad and yogurt are dangerously high—in terms of quantity.
The problem is perishability. I habitually become very very anxious about the salad going bad, and it getting wasted. Same with the yogurt. Anything that’s perishable and outside of what I consider a manageable quantity. So, for example. The carbonated is fine; non perishable. The apples? They hold for weeks—and if they get close, we can bake them into a pie, and they’ll hold or freeze forever. The blueberries and cherries? The baby will chomp these down in days. The veggies in those little pull out drawers? Currently, there’s only a meal or two worth. But the potatoes in the cupboard? They worry me. How long do potatoes last? I moved them from the counter to the cupboard because I thought they were getting to much sun. The bunch of four bananas? They’re changing from yellow to brown awfully fast. The plantain. Ugh it’s aging quickly too. The granola I made a few days ago? Should I freeze it in between uses? It’s been hot lately and our in-window A/C units are spotty
This mania effects me every day. What I slurp slurp chomp chomp for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When we eat out (exceedingly exceeding rare), or eat at someone else’s house (less rare), I have PERISHABLE FOOD IN FRIG blaring in my mind. Yelling at me.
This morning was typical boxing match with anxiety. Open frig. Heaping quantity of salad and yogurt. Both phenomenally delicious. So that makes deciding twice as difficult. Both are roughly equally urgent to consume, in terms of perishability. Neither can be frozen. So what the hell do I do?
Well. I split the difference and had a little of both. I gilded the salad with an over-easy egg, which was technically a perishability foible, because the eggs last so long there’s no time imperative.
If I asked Kate, which I will in 3 hours when it’s lunch time, she’ll choose salad or yogurt. And the decision won’t cause her a moment’s hesitation or the slightest twinge of anxiety. We’ve had this conversation before. Several times. We’ve branded it as a matter of diverging personal preference. I prefer a basically empty refrigerator. She prefers a widely stocked refrigerator. I’ve said yes because I like going to the store regularly, rather than once a week, as to avoid as much as possible the perishability problem. But, in fact, that’s probably only half true. What I really like is having a nearly empty refrigerator. And my preference for what Kate calls well-balanced eating (eating a variety of foods throughout the day, and from day to day) is much much lower. I’d be entirely at ease subsisting on eggs and bread. Or kale. Just kale. Until the kale runs out. And then get hummus and carrots and steak. And just hummus and carrots and stake until the stake runs out. And so on so forth.
I’m less interested in pinning this on the marriage. More interested in figuring out what’s driving what’s become an obsession. I mean preference is one thing. But I’m experiencing too much day to day anxiety for this to be merely a preference. Too many of my thoughts are attempting to problem solve how to store the bread. I tell myself the loaf of bread is worth barely 60 cents in flour, water, salt. But this doesn’t seem to make the preservation issue any less pressing.
If I ask myself what Jordan Peterson would say, I’d guess he’d lean back and begin a lecture about how the fundamental human concern is to balance the two competing universal forces: order and chaos. Which, of course, is what I’m doing. Is my worry about 60 cent bread and a Tupperware of salad a function of being in an economically scarce position relative to my friends, family and neighbors? That is, neither Kate nor I currently have a meaningful source of income. I’m excluding both of our $10/hr coffee shop gigs from meaningful source of income. Which isn’t to say we don’t enjoy and appreciate and value the job; we do. It’s just saying that $10/hr is not a livable wage. I make $11.50 actually. Just got a raise. Lol.
So, to wrap this up, vacuum seal this, and stow it in the freezer, this has been simmering under the skin and on the skin for a while. I rarely talk about it. Just the same as I rarely talked about being an alcoholic when I was an alcoholic. It wasn’t until after I realized I was an alcoholic that I started talking obsessively about it, asking people about their experiences, and writing about my own. For whatever it’s worth.
One more thing. I often wonder, precariously, what my mental state would be like in a world without a refrigerator…