My wife and I do most of our tasks together because (here’s where the story immediately gets saccharine-esque, so my apologies for any resulting nausea to those who cannot handle sweets) we enjoy each other’s company. Grocery shopping to us is a chance to throw our dog in the car, go for a drive and talk about our day, maybe make fun of packaging or, if we’re feeling petty, comment on the Whole Foods couple that both got the Always Look Surprised special from Dr. Domybest, the plastic surgeon.
The point is, we shop together, then unpack our groceries together. This leads us to the actual point of the story…
We were unpacking our Whole Foods groceries from our reusable grocery bags (we are only a Prius away from being pretentious Californians. So close!), each taking a theme, the dried goods or the refrigerated goods. I was on refrigerator detail.
I put away the vegetables, the numerous cartons of eggs we go through in a week, the raw milk cheese, etc. She puts away the lentils, almonds, coffee, coconut milk, etc. Naturally, we talk about whatever comes to mind, our dog keeps a nose up in the air in the hopes of smelling something worth eating, then the cat comes in, shakes her tail excitedly and begins chatting in her un-catlike manner.
As this plays itself out (a scene so uninteresting that haunting ghosts would try to kill themselves), there is an intermittent sound that stands out:
Thwipp-pop – Thwipp-pop – Thwipp-pop
Bear in mind that we have been performing this rituals for many years, now, but this was the first time my wife actually noticed enough to pause and take notice. “What are you doing?”
“What do you mean? I’m putting stuff away.”
“That. Why are you doing that?”
I shrugged and said, “Well, ’cause you’re supposed to.”
“No, sweety. You only refrigerate it after you use it.”
I held up one of the jars of the food I’d been putting away. “It says right here, ‘Refrigerate After Opening’.”
I could tell she was amused. “Ri-ight, but it doesn’t mean you have to refrigerate it the moment you buy it.”
“Right, you open it first.” I watched as her tiny smile swelled in size just a touch. “I don’t understand why we’re not understanding each other on this.”
“Let me ask you this,” she said. “What would happen if you put in the refrigerator without opening it?”
“It explodes…” This came out as both a statement and a question, I wasn’t confident anymore. “The pressure inside builds…” I made an explosion sound.
“Hmm, no,” she said. “I think, you’re taking the label’s advice a little too literally. It’s not saying refrigerate immediately but first open the lid, it’s saying this food will stay fresher after it’s been opened if you refrigerate it.”
“I was just doing what the label said. I was following the rules.” I fake argued. “Slow and steady wins the race, keep your nose clean, obey the signs, that’s me.”
All these years of buying food, opening jars long before anyone intended to eat them, thinking I was doing the right thing, it turns out common sense had simply eluded me, but stood by to snicker behind my back.
I took out the two remaining jars from our shopping bag. My wife was putting one into the cupboard when…
I answered her look with, “What? It was like that when I picked it up.”