Janet Sheridan: Impossible to explain
I identify with philosophers, dreamers and academics who contemplate the mysteries of life, because I, too, ponder the unexplainable.
Last night, for example, I studied a velvet darkness filled with stars and wondered why dairy products shed in my refrigerator. Cartons of milk, sour cream, Greek yogurt and feta cheese simply cannot keep their little white flakes to themselves. They also decorate their space with unsightly rings and challenge neighboring pickle jars to do the same.
I sigh, clean up the clutter, and congratulate myself for squelching an epidemic. Then, 10 minutes later, I open the refrigerator and find chalky flecks and circles of whey everywhere. Why is that?
When making my bed, I wonder why the nation that leads the world in international patents can’t produce fitted sheets that fit. When I first saw bed linens with elasticized corners, I marveled at the ingenuity of the inventor who made folding hospital corners obsolete. Since then, however, mattresses have become thicker — or I have. Too often, the miracle sheets spring away from the mattress corners, and I end up sleeping on a mass of wrinkled fabric in the middle of the bed.
Another conundrum I ponder: whether I’m in an upscale department store, a small shoe shop, or Fashion Footwear with its stacks of help-yourself boxes, when I find the shoe that’s the answer to my dreams, why is it never, ever available in my size?
I wish someone could explain another phenomena: Often, when eating food prepared by others at dinner parties, potluck get-togethers, or family reunions, I taste something so good that I’m compelled to ask for the recipe. At home, I follow it faithfully — resisting the temptation to throw in walnuts or double the garlic — and then discover that my results are barely edible. How could that be?
The opposite is also true: when I share a recipe of mine with a friend and later eat it at her house, it’s so much better I can’t believe it’s the same dish. I worry about one possible solution to these mind-boggling situations: I can’t cook.
While we’re in the kitchen, does anyone know why I can’t put potato peels down the garbage disposal without clogging the dratted thing? It’s a nightmare to transfer the slippery stuff from the sink to the trash, so sometimes I try putting fewer peelings at a time into the disposal and running more water. It never works. I don’t know why.
Another unanswerable riddle: Why do the last 10 miles of a lengthy car trip seem a gazillion times longer than the first 10? This universal mystery deserves as much attention as the meaning of life, but was never once mentioned in my college philosophy class.
Have you ever wondered how tissues sneak into your laundry? Joel carefully checks the pockets of everything he puts in the hamper, as do I. In fact, suspicious soul, I frequently re-check just before I load the washer. And yet, too often, when I lift the lid, pull out an item, and shake it, an infestation of wet-tissue clumps swarms everywhere. Sodden bits of white paper fly through the air, cling tenaciously to every dark piece of clothing, and cause me to wonder why someone would plant a tissue in Joel’s pocket.
While these unanswerable questions never impact my appetite, they might be responsible for my sinus infections, so I try not to dwell on them. I don’t need philosophical ruminations aggravating my stuffy head.
However, if you have some solutions, I’d appreciate hearing them.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.