What can we learn from our dysfunctional array of plastic?
Two full-time jobs may be the norm for many families, but it is pretty difficult to raise a large brood and educate them at home while two parents are out punching a time clock. We have taken turns in the workplace and juggled schedules. Sometimes the right fit for now isn't the right fit for always, so we adapt.
For a while, Brian was the main teacher and I packed a sandwich and headed off to the office. These days I still pack a lunch, but most of the time, I'm packing it for Brian.
My husband has an unsettling attraction to plastic storage containers. I used to tell myself there were worse vices he could have, stranger things he could bring home. Now I'm not so sure.
It started innocently enough. After spending 10 minutes trying to stash some leftovers for his lunch and not finding a lid to fit a container, he gave up. We don't buy much that comes in plastic containers, so our supply of repurposed doesn't get restocked very often. Still, the man wants to eat his lunch when he goes to work, so he bought new containers.
They were beautiful. Their little lids all fit perfectly, and they stacked so neatly. Brian shot me an "I told you so" glance as he carefully arranged them in half the space taken by my mismatched misfits.
Things soon changed. The containers began to mock us.
Store-bought containers take on a certain container monogamy. After a trip through the dishwasher, each one had claimed a lid that fit, and no other lid could take its place. The containers assumed a rigid social schedule too, so that the lids and the bottoms could rarely be found in the same place at the same time. One blissful day, we had 12 containers with perfectly matched lids. The next morning, I opened the cabinet door to find four container bottoms and 53 lids that matched none of them.
Determined to fix the problem, Brian went back to the store to purchase replacements. I went to supervise. It was like entering a new universe. There were containers, sure, but no traces of the type we'd had before. The bright packages proclaimed they were new, improved and technologically advanced.
I began to feel faint, either from the plastic fumes or because there were too many choices. In a desperate bid to save me, Brian grabbed a few packs that looked promising, took my hand and ran for the checkout counter.
Within days, the missing container pieces had returned to the cabinet to find that their lifelong partners had disappeared and snooty new neighbors had moved in. They all refused to get along, and by the next morning, we no longer had any pieces that fit together at all. They wouldn't even stack neatly.
It soon became apparent that there is a vast container conspiracy. Somehow, society has let our love of plastic containers stand in the way of true happiness. We are no longer content with simple storage. We need double zippers and pressure seals and bigger bags with specialized handles.
Next thing you know, someone will invent a clear plastic casket. The problem, of course, will be finding a lid that fits.