Saturday, July 08, 2006

(sigh) those were the days

Saturdays were not meant to be spent cleaning the house, but, alas, since we’ve run like gangbusters since it first started to get warm, Spring Cleaning could not wait a moment longer. One absolutely gorgeous day down the tubes—but our house is finally clean. Well, as close to clean as it’s going to get, at any rate. A neat freak I may be, but a clean freak I am unfortunately not. The kitchen was where the majority of my time and effort was spent, and as I went from grotesque mess to grotesque mess (Have you ever seen what grows under your stove? Ew!) I began to question what ever happened to the Magic Kitchen of my childhood.

I can only assume that every home had a Magic Kitchen, but, truth be told, mine is the only one I can verify with any certainty. I’ve never heard mention of another, but I cannot imagine what stroke of pure luck or heavenly blessing could have possibly bestowed such a glorious creation on my family and my family alone. What wonders it beheld—oh, the nostalgia! The longing to go back! The yearning for an era gone by! But, alas, the Magic Kitchen seems to have faded into obscurity with avocado appliances and Jello molds—and I am all the sadder and wearier for it.

The piece de resistance in the magical masterpiece of my childhood kitchen was the Magic Fridge. Official 70’s-appliance-green (See what I’m saying? It must have something to do with the color!), the Magic Fridge stood in the center of the kitchen like a tower erected to the Grocery God. This dietary deity must have been quite pleased with us, because—and here’s where it starts getting good—the fridge never emptied! Like some widow’s jar of oil, the Magic Fridge refilled itself completely on it’s own—I never had to do anything but open the door. Lemonade, Kool-Aid, Soda Pop (or just Pop, if you’re a Midwesterner)—beverages flowed like milk and honey. Jello, Cherry Cheese Cake, Baptist Pie (a staple at Methodist potlucks despite the obvious theological issues), Rocky Road Fudge, Chocolate Pudding—not to mention all the staples for making pizzas and sandwiches and casseroles and tacos! I’ve never again in my life seen anything like it, I am grieved to say. It was a sight to behold.

While this was obviously the grand tour de force of the Magic Kitchen, especially to a child, I cannot help in my adulthood to also reminisce with great fondness about another important and overlooked feature—the kitchen was self-cleaning. Yes. It’s true. I never lifted a finger in that kitchen and yet the refrigerator shelves were always clean and the oven never had burnt cheese in the bottom of it and the dishes appeared on the shelves as if completely of their own volition. Clean. The first time. It was astonishing. The floor never stuck to my feet, the counters never collected crumbs, the sink never had a ring around it, and the utensils never collected dust. Ever. And I never did a darn thing. Amazing. (Sigh.) Those were the days.

Four hours later, as I look around my own kitchen—white, all of it (that must be the problem)—I remember as well the self-stocking pantry, the pre-packed school lunches, the self-cleaning toaster oven, and the garbage can that never needed to be emptied. I sigh deeply at my prunish hands and ragged fingernails, wiping sweat from my brow with an arm that smells like Pinesol and bacon grease while I try for the 37th time to get my hair out of my eyes. After fifteen years of cleaning kitchens, I had almost forgotten the days when I never had to lift a finger. Almost.

(Sigh.)

Magic kitchen—oh, where have you gone? Why have you forsaken me? You have left me to toil endlessly while my children do nothing but consume and make messes—

you’d think they believed the kitchen just took care of itself!

6 comments:

lorie said...

Just for the record: I did help clean at my parents' house, albeit usually under duress.

If you want to see my house while it's clean, you have about two days. Three if we spend a night in a hotel.

moshpitmarsha said...

I enjoyed reading this piece. It was very entertaining.

Angela said...

I miss the days of monopoly...buying and selling properties like a pro...the endless flow of colorful cash....

lorie said...

Thanks, Marsha!

Oh yes-- the real estate! Those were good times, Angela!

Beth said...

somehow my whole childhood home was like your kitchen -- and I helped clean too...but my mom made the whole thing seem so effortless...I remember the day not too long ago, that I realized that I am NOT the housekeeper my mom was...and I had to do a little self-talk exercise: "That's OK. I have many other talents." Right...right???

lorie said...

yeah, me neither. i've given up feeling guilt about it. except, of course, when my mom comes over...