I had the house all to myself for several days last week. Yvonne’s cousin (more like a sister) had triple bypass surgery several weeks ago. Amazingly, at age 84, her recovery went remarkably well and she was ready to go home just 15 days after surgery. We thought it would be wise for Yvonne to stay with her cousin for a few days to help with the transition; and so it was that I had an opportunity to play the role of “The Bachelor” for a few days.
I considered the idea of ordering a keg of beer, buying a few buckets of barbecue wings, and inviting the guys over for a bodacious bachelor bash, but my better judgment took over and I nixed the idea; the reason being that I’m 67, going on 70, as are most of my friends. The last thing I needed to spoil my bachelor pad experience was a to have a bunch of old farts fall asleep all over the house by 9:00 p.m., then have to listen to them snore all night like a herd of snorting walruses, not to mention having to watch them take turns running to the bathroom during the night to simultaneously heave and pee from eating too many hot wings and drinking too much beer.
I admit the things I most enjoy about being a bachelor are pretty tame, if not lame. I get excited about the little things, like having complete control of the remote, leaving the toilet seat up, and drinking from the milk jug without worrying about getting caught and being scolded.
So how does an old guy who has been married to the same awesomely beautiful woman for 47 years spend three days of bachelorhood? By cleaning the house, of course. I did have a little encouragement. The last thing Yvonne said before heading out the door was, “Remember, no wild parties (another reason I nixed the party idea), and clean the house while I’m gone”, (You’d think she could have at least said, “Please?”)
Well, just to show my manliness I answered, “Okay, but I’m going to do it because I want to, not because I have to.” I guess I told her, although she was half way down the walk and may not have heard me.
By the end of day two I had washed, ironed, and folded all of the laundry, washed all the windows inside and out, and cleaned the entire house. I even rearranged the furniture in the living room and our bedroom to be more functional.
I have to admit I was feeling rather proud of myself, but I was getting bored. I needed a truly big challenge – not something mundane like carrying and stacking a half cord of firewood on the back porch, but something extraordinary that would bring a smile to Yvonne’s face when she came home.
To my pleasant surprise, when I went to the kitchen the next morning and opened a cabinet door to retrieve the oatmeal, I realized my big challenge had been right there waiting for me all along; I would organize the kitchen – and not just the cabinets, but the entire kitchen.
Yes, I know (and as long time readers of this column may recall) I got into a lot of trouble when I rearranged the kitchen cabinets shortly after I retired. But after having me around for the past two years, I figured Yvonne had mellowed a bit. At least I hoped so.
Call me Monk if you want to, but the fact is I just couldn’t help myself. I got so excited I forgot all about breakfast. I started with the canned goods – asparagus on the left, then beans, of which there were 17 cans to be sorted and alphabetized – baked, black, cannellini, garbanzo, green, kidney, lima, and navy. Other canned goods followed, finally ending with water chestnuts on the far right.
Next came boxed foods, among which I found the oatmeal so I paused long enough to have breakfast. The brownie, cake, muffin, and three types of pancake mixes were easy to organize, but when I reached the pastas it was a different story. I don’t know how many kinds of pasta there are in the world but we have a bunch of them. Our pasta stash included angel hair, bow tie, fettuccine, lasagna, linguine, macaroni (both elbow and shell), orecchiette, orzo, pastina, rotelle, and ziti. No wonder I have a pasta belly.
Organizing the spices would have been a whole lot easier if Yvonne had liked the 48 jar spice rack I gave her for Christmas last year, but she regifted it.
Sorting through the containers we use to store leftovers was almost as challenging, but, after pitching a few containers that didn’t have lids, I managed to get the rest sorted and stacked. I was about to put them away when it occurred to me that it would make a lot of sense to switch the location of the containers with some of the canned goods. While doing so I thought to myself, “Having these containers organized may help Yvonne use the right size containers when she puts leftovers away.”
I decided the pots and pans, dishes, and glassware were okay the way they were, but I did come up with a better arrangement for placement of the toaster, can opener, utensils caddy, coffee maker, and other items we keep on the kitchen counter.
When Yvonne arrived home and looked over my handy work she didn’t say a word, but I know she was happy because she left everything exactly as I had arranged it and that smile I’d hoped for came over her face. Finally she turned to me and said, “I’m going out for a little while to pick up a few things.” When she returned she handed me a shopping bag that contained a loaf of bread, a large jar of peanut butter, and a pair of long johns. “Here”, she said, “You’re going to need these while you’re staying in the travel trailer.”
Well, it’s been a week. I discovered my house keys don’t work and I haven’t seen any sign of Yvonne, but I did find another new pair of long johns, a fresh loaf of bread, and another jar of peanut butter on the back porch so I guess I’ll be camping out here in the trailer for another week…or so.
George Brown is a freelance writer. He and his wife, Yvonne, live in Jackson Township.