Crazy D vowed, when he moved in with me and L’il Sis, that he’d tackle the mess that is my kitchen corner cupboard. It swivels around, thus providing no useful purpose but to lose plastic container lids that slide underneath, never to be seen again…or at least for five years. Which is about how long it’s been since I last trolled its dreaded depths. I admit it’s a disaster. That’s why I rarely go in it. I close the door and out of sight, out of mind. But Crazy D found it…and I think, when the contents threatened to crush him to death on the floor, he decided something had to be done. And since it was obvious that I would never do it, he volunteered.
I take after my own dear mother, the lady with the stash of 287 plastic buckets, strawberry baskets and lids that were going to save her from some imminent disaster during the end times. She had Alzheimer’s when she began to hoard these containers, so she had an excuse. I have none. Except that I’m lazy. If it can be hidden away and forgotten, I’m there.
My fatal mistake was inviting my overly critical, bent on being organized, neatnik (when it comes to MY stuff) kids. If I’d been smart, I would have locked my doors, thrown away the keys, and just admitted to being that crazy lady who lives in the blue house with the two dozen mallard ducks on the roof, the messy kitchen awash in plastic buckets, and the garage filled with other peoples’ stuff (the kids’) waiting for them to have and take it to homes of their own.
On Sunday, Crazy D announced:”Today’s the day, Mom. The plastic buckets go!” And with that, he dove in.
I made the mistake of watching. “This one HAS to go, Mom. No lid in here fits it.”
“But I really like that one…it’s perfect for soup!”
“Nope! Can’t have it. And this one too…what possible purpose can something this size have?”
“But, but…I use it for little bits of tomato paste…I can’t bear to waste it. Sometimes I just have a tiny bit left over — enough for a ‘blush’ wine sauce. You can’t pitch it!”
“And what’s this?”
“An egg container for a fridge…couldn’t say which one, though. Could have been the one I had before this, or the one before that. Hard to say.”
This continued for several minutes, the pile of discards growing exponentially. It was my Sophie’s choice moment. I began surreptitiously grabbing and spiriting away my favourites.
“Don’t think I didn’t see you hiding those,” Crazy D admonished me. “Mom, you haven’t used any of these buckets in three years. And just look at all these random lids, fifteen of them, that I found under the twirly bit. They don’t match anything.”
“Well, you never know. They might come in handy…”
“Mom, just because you’re having a moment of revenge, getting even for your own mother’s plastic hoarding, doesn’t mean we have to live like this. I need room for my protein drinks, energy bars, vitamin supplements and body building mixes. But just to prove I’m being reasonable, we’ll make separate piles: One for buckets ‘going to hell’, one for ‘purgatory’…to be decided later with negotiation, one for giving away so it becomes someone else’s problem’. Does that sound fair?”
“I wouldn’t say ‘fair’, but at least you’re trying to accommodate your poor mother, the generous soul who’s taken you in in your moment of need, provided solace for you and a place to store all your equipment, bicycles, skis, boots etc. Not to mention making homemade granola for you every time you travel to the jungles or frozen north for a job. No sacrifice is too great for my children…”
“Really Mom? A guilt trip over plastic buckets? I’ll buy you new ones — ones that come with lids that fit snugly…any size you want. Just so we don’t have this Jenga-like situation in the cupboards and fridge. My treat!”
“Well, alright. But just so you know, your Grandmother is turning over in her grave as we do this…throwing away perfectly good plastic buckets!”
“Mom, who was it who came home from HER mother’s condo swearing a blue streak when she found The Hoard of strawberry baskets? You used words we had never heard before!”
“There! You see? There is something to be learned from every situation…”
Later in the day, after I had retired to my room with a valium, I overheard Crazy D talking to Gill on the phone. “The foul deed has been done,” he gloated. “I cleaned out the cupboard.”
“Really ? You’re a brave man. Good job, taking one for the team! You deserve a medal.”
“Thanks. I appreciate the vote of confidence.”
“Just one word of warning, though” added Gill. “You might want to hire someone to taste your food for the next little while. Mom has never taken well to being organized by her kids. You might have pushed her over the edge. And I’d keep the phone number for poison control on speed dial if I were you. Good luck, little brother…”