Achieving the grater good
November 4, 2007
It’s Thursday morning. Christina and I are sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. To the outside observer this must look like a calm, peaceful moment; the golden sun of late Rocky Mountain autumn streams in through the windows while two people sit together at a kitchen table enjoying breakfast. But I’m not calm or peaceful. Sure, breakfast is good, and the sunlight is golden and all that, but I’m trying to work up the nerve to ask my wife a very serious question, one which could drastically alter our lives together.I’ve rehearsed the question in my head many times, trying to compose a tactful version of it, but, when the time comes, I just blurt it out.”Why did you refrigerate the cheese grater?””What?” “The cheese grater,” I say, squirming in my seat. “Why did you put it in the fridge?””I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” she replies, and goes back to reading.This is exactly what I DIDN’T want to hear.There are a lot of potentially scary things that can confront one when opening the refrigerator door – fuzzy leftovers, a severed hand in a jar, a lack of beer – but none of these can compare to the terror I felt when I opened the fridge door a few days ago and saw, yes … the cheese grater.There it was, top shelf, next to the carton of rice milk, and I immediately tried to rationalize its presence. Maybe there were some stubborn, caked-on cheese particles that are more easily removed from your standard metal grater if it’s chilled? I pulled the grater out and inspected it. It was clean. OK, uh … maybe there’s a gourmet recipe that calls for the cheese grater to be below room temperature, so when the fancy lump of cheese is grated, it doesn’t bruise the integrity of the … uh … no, that can’t be it. I don’t want to imply a lack of culinary adventure in my house, but if “chill cheese grater” is in the directions, that recipe is likely to be skipped altogether.No, I knew EXACTLY what the grater in the fridge meant, but I still wasn’t willing to accept it. Plus, I hadn’t tried the old standby yet – blaming my wife.”Look, I’m not judging you or anything, I just wanna know why you put it there!”She looked at me with that can’t-you-just-please-not-talk-for-a-while look, and I knew that wife-blaming was, once again, not going to work. I had to face the ugly truth – I put the cheese grater in the fridge.Gulp. My mind drifts back …Years ago, right before my grandparents went on vacation, my grandmother hid her jewelry. She hid it so well that when they returned from their vacation she couldn’t find it, even after tearing her small house apart. She’d forgotten where she’d hidden it! For close to a year, the modest collection of jewelry went undiscovered, until one day someone had a stomachache, so my grandmother took out the hot water bottle from under the sink, unscrewed the cap and there, in a Ziploc bag, was her stash! Hooray! Now we can make jokes about it!Except that now the jokes aren’t so funny, because at the time of this incident, many years ago, the idea of hiding jewelry and forgetting where you’d hidden it was unimaginable. But now I’m refrigerating my cheese grater without even knowing it! This means that I, totally conscious and sober (I never clean the kitchen while drunk), held a cheese grater in my hand, opened the refrigerator door, and, ignoring the “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” song that must have been blaring in my head, I put the grater in, closed the door, then totally blanked it out. This is scary stuff! What next? Putting my shoes in the oven? My computer in the bathtub? And speaking of … back when my grandmother hid her wedding ring there was no Internet – the possibility of regrettable unconscious activity was limited. But now … for all I know, I’ve already bought something from eBay that I’m about to seriously regret. And deny. Some weird package is probably en route right now!Although if a box of cheese graters packed in dry ice shows up at my door, I’m going to have to try blaming my wife again.Barry Smith’s column appears on Mondays.
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