I hit the royal wall when I uncovered a purple tea tin commemorating “The Marriage of Prince William of Wales & Miss Catherine Middleton 29th April 2011.”
I was cleaning the pantry and tossing old bottles of fish sauce, dusty bags of cinnamon sticks and half-used packages of spaghetti when I came across the purple tin with a dashing photo of Andrew dressed in his red uniform emblazoned with a blue sash and Kate in a surprisingly modest wedding dress holding a bouquet in her left hand and Andrew’s hand in her right.
Keep or toss?
Some jobs are only possible when your spouse leaves. Thinning the herd of vases is one. Cleaning the pantry is another.
Women don’t like getting rid of vases. Vases hold flowers. Women love flowers and vases remind them of bouquets from neighbors, children and adoring husbands, when adoring husbands remember.
I have a vase strategy. First eliminate the vases she’ll never notice, starting with the goldfish bowls, and then fill a wine box with the vases she may or may not miss. Put that box in the garage. Then wait.
If, after a month or two, the missing vases go unmissed, heave the box into the blue recycling bin. I’ve never had a vase make it back into the house. It reminds me of Charlie Dodge, the former sheriff, when he cheerfully announced that he and his wife, Mary, were going into a retirement home.
“We’re going from Glenwood Gardens to the Great Beyond,” he said. “We’re going in but we’re not coming out.”
Charlie understood vases. Other stuff too.
The vases weren’t coming back and neither was a jar of my homemade apricot jam. I had two jars in the pantry, but it’s important to exhibit a spirit of fair play: Throw away one of yours for every four of hers.
Tossing the apricot jam was easy because the jam was tart. I had halved the sugar, something I’m going to blame on California sportswriter Mike Griffith because he suggested it.
“I used less sugar and mine turned out great,” he’d said, probably because he caught the apricots as they dropped ripe from his tree.
My apricot jam was tart and no one wants tart apricot jam. They can say they want tart jam but when they spread it on a piece of toast it is as if the apricot sunshine has gone behind the clouds and a bitter cold, rhubarb wind has blown in.
“Put your foot down hard on spent candles and empty cookie tins,” texted friend Eric, when I told him I was cleaning the pantry.
I lobbed a Christmas cookie tin in the trash and then backed it up with a handsome red cookie jar from Costco that had previously housed chocolate cookies and was awaiting future deployment that never seemed to come.
To show I wasn’t playing favorites, I threw away one of my four bags of chips and combined the other three — Ruffles,Kettle Chips and corn chips. Who doesn’t love a chip mix?
Before long, I’d filled the recycling basket and kitchen trash can. This was fun and no time for Sue to walk in should she have decided to cut her weekend short. Cleaning the pantry is best when it’s a conversation-free experience. I was talking but to myself.
What to do with the purple tin that now housed 13 8-year-old English breakfast teabags? If I had my druthers, that tin would have joined the Christmas cookie tin, the vases and Charlie Dodge but Sue, along with all the other royal watchers in America, had gotten up in the middle of the night to watch the wedding. I should be grateful they didn’t put out a line of royal wedding vases.
I made a decision. Keep the tin. That’s what kind of royal husband I am.