I was cleaning out the refrigerator the other day and came upon something that had been pushed to the back. I had no idea what it was so I opened the lid and took a whiff to see if I could identify what the contents had been in their previous life. Big mistake! When my eyes quit watering I noticed my husband had wandered into the kitchen. As the hairs in my nose were singed and my olfactory cells had been completely overloaded, I held the container out to him.
“Here, smell this and tell me what it is,” I said, shoving the revolting noxious containing Tupperware wannabe under his nose.
He took a cautious sniff and backed away, gagging. “Ugh! Why would you want me to smell that?” He gave me a look as if I was deliberately trying to poison him with lethal gases.
At his question, I had to stop and think. Why did I make him smell that? To be perfectly honest, I don’t know. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time. Come to think of it, how many times do people do this? They smell something disgusting and immediately everyone in the vicinity has to verify that the stench is, indeed, nauseating. Do we do this to affirm that we are not olfactorally impaired? It just seems to be one of those behaviors everyone does—sort of along the lines of, “taste this.”
Not only do we have to share foul smelling substances with our friends and loved ones, we have to share rotten tastes, also. Don’t tell me you have never opened a questionable leftover container in the refrigerator and asked your significant other to taste it. Usually, although not always, I have already ascertained it is no longer fit for human consumption, but I just want that warm fuzzy of someone else confirming what I already know.
“It looks like a science project,” my husband says. “I don’t need to taste it to know it’s bad.”
“The mold is just penicillin,” I assure him. “It will kill whatever bacteria are in the food.”
“Just throw it out.”
“But I really hate to waste food. If I could only identify what it is, I could tell how long ago we had this for dinner.” I was raised by parents who lived through the Depression, after all, and wasting food was a mortal sin. This principle has been ingrained into my DNA.
“Is it really worth getting ptomaine poisoning? Besides, there’s not enough to keep. Just throw it out.”
“Oh, all right,” I reluctantly agree. I take the container to the garbage can to scrape out the offensive former food. Then it occurs to me I will probably never get the stain and odor out of the plastic tub it is decomposing in.
So I throw caution to the wind and dump it—container and all. After all, I can always get another leftover container just as soon as I use up the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter—provided it doesn’t decompose first.