Suburban Snapshots

If You Need a Favor From Me,
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

I live in one of those 1950's developments where you come in one street and though the neighborhood isn't very big, you can spend four hours trying to find your way back out like some suburban version of The Blair Witch Project, "OH MY GOD didn't we just pass that same ranch with the novelty garden statues and the SUV?"

Most of the neighbors with children know each other, and texted last-minute dinner invitations or urgent babysitting requests are not uncommon. We unload outgrown clothing, uneaten food and unfed kids on each other often, and now that it's summer I've had roughly a metric ton of zucchini show up on my doorstep (not a euphemism).

So when this message showed up on my phone, I said hey, no problem. I'm happy to take some fish off your hands.

My friends a few houses down were about to embark on a week-long camping trip (BRB, that whole sentence made me break out in hives) and had given me most of their perishables the night before. I'd made a delicious chowder with some fish other neighbors had given us the previous weekend and still had some potatoes to use up. I could practically taste the creamy, oceany goodness.

I was out running errands when my friends brought their fish by. Steve must've been in the back yard and hadn't heard the doorbell, so when I got home it took me several minutes to notice the double-grocery bagged fish sitting inside the front door. I had no idea how long it had been there, but it wasn't stinky enough to overpower the summer stench of our dogs and the sink full of dishes I'd been passive-aggressively ignoring, and everyone knows the mom sniff-test is proven 99% accurate.

I carried the bags into the kitchen, and because I hadn't grocery shopped, I planned to put the fish in my freezer until I could manage to travel the entire block to the supermarket for bacon and cream.

We have one of those bottom-drawer freezers, and adding food to it requires Tetris Expert-Level Certification with a Masters in Jenga. Even when we're down to the sad block of tofu I always buy full of good intentions and half a can of furry Spaghetti-Os in the fridge, the freezer is packed.

I opened the drawer hoping there'd be a spot big enough for what felt like five pounds of fish inside a Tupperware container inside the two plastic bags. But no, of course not. Not between the frozen pizzas, the bananas I'll never get around to making bread with, the gallons of homemade chicken broth, the knishes I froze to prohibit my devouring them, or the three varieties of artificially-colored ice pops Anna keeps suckering us into buying.

The last thing I felt like doing was rearranging my freezer. So, maybe I can take the fish out of the Tupperware thing and put it in a Ziplock bag, then kind of just, you know, cram it in there. Now I was thinking like a husband — and it was this moment of ingenuity that saved a life today, people.

Because when I took the bags off of that container, this is what was inside:

Oh. My bad.

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