Thursday, April 18, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: Mystery of Michelle’s magic kitchen


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This story surfaced in Readers’ Digest. A city woman was visiting her sister who lived on a farm. At length the husband tramped in, leaving a trail of mud and manure.
“Those boots sure bring in a lot of muck,” observed the city sister disdainfully.
“Yes, they do,” replied the farm wife happily, “but they also bring him in to me!”
That story bothered me a lot. No woman loves her husband more than her kitchen. Something doesn’t fit.
Same with Michelle’s kitchen. Everything perfectly clean, neat and tidy. Lots of counter space. Something’s wrong.
Michelle is one of the cute Guataka females. All their kitchens are of similar splendour. I’m only highlighting Michelle’s because she describes it as “ec-lectic” (she pronounces it differently) and we writers seldom get a chance to use that word.
In contrast, our kitchen is more “clutterectic”. You are greeted at the back door by maybe 30 or 40 pairs of Wellington boots. The Duke’s original pair may well be there for all I know. We keep hoping that someday a left boot, say, will crack on one pair and a right boot on another. So we can put the good ones together and make a usable pair. It never happens.
Rivalling the boots in smell is the compost bucket where skins, peelings, egg shells and tea bags provide sustenance for thousands of creepers. Beware of opening, my friend, or you may experience what it’s like to wake up in a roomful of vegetarians doing their morning eliminations.
In a corner by the sink, a box of broken toys. And a plastic tub which serves as two-year-old Doms’ push-around vehicle.
Everywhere else is clutter. Books, papers, children’s drawings, fishing tackle, large bags of recycling, molasses, kefir, used matches. We don’t throw away used matchsticks in case we need to cook outside or light another burner.
Then, of course, there are the fauna, or vermin, resident and non-res. Beetles and assorted relatives. Fat white wood-slave lizards on the ceiling, occasionally landing on you if there is a fight.
A family of formidable jet black ones with green eyes who live by the window. Three or more Jack Spaniards chill high up on the rafters, keeping their distance.
Under the drainboard resides a family of whistling frogs. My wife recently decided enough was enough and attempted to relocate them to the banana trees. Their leader, Raul, just laughed uproariously.
“Wait, lady,” he chirped, “you ent hear ’bout Comissiong? The boss lawyer who does mek Skin-Muh-Pooch look like a boy in the yard? He know all ’bout squatters’ rights. You could get charged for trespassing on our drainboard. So, watch it!”
Last week we came in late to find a daughter’s note on the kitchen table: “There’s a centipede in your bed. We couldn’t find it. Check bed before getting in!” He hit me hard the next night. Luckily, the Internet turned up some remedies which worked wonders: (1) Wee wee on it; (2) Aloes. The wife, however, the wife refused to oblige with (1). She didn’t recall anything in the marriage vows about giving golden showers at 3 a.m.
I bet nothing so happens at Michelle-type houses. Even more remarkably, there is no old underwear on her kitchen floor! I mean, doesn’t everyone have an old pair of underwear on the floor which you push around with your foot to absorb sundry spillages?
And, get this, there is no reading material in the bathroom! How can a human being perform without a Calvin And Hobbes, TinTin, P.G. Wodehouse or crossword to which anyone can contribute? Recently, I’ve noticed there’s even a cuatro next to our toilet, probably someone working on those hard movements.
So what’s to be made of all this? How do people exist in those ec-lectic houses? The answer came to me out of the blue, thanks to a former UWI colleague and bandmate Dr Winston Small.
Smallie has written a book In Search Of Life On Mars. If there is life on Mars, no doubt there are Martians and other superior beings living among us who aren’t bound by the laws of clutter, chaos and entropy. At least, that’s my theory.
I can’t wait for the wife to get home to tell her not to worry any more.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.


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