Sunday, January 27, 2008

Call Me Gregor Samsa

Have you ever read Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis? In this classic short story the main character, Gregor Samsa, wakes up and discovers that during the night he has transformed into, basically, a giant cockroach. I found an e-text version here for those of you unfamiliar with the story. Something similar happened to me not too long ago. No, I didn't wake up with an exoskeleton; it was much more sinister. I woke up and realized I'm turning into my mother.

It all started out innocently enough when I realized that she sure was smart to store her shoes in their respective shoe boxes and forgo a shoe organizer. If you were to go into my mother's closet you would see almost every pair of shoes she owns boxed and waiting on the top shelf of her closet. The only shoes relegated to the floor are her slippers and one or two pairs of shoes that she uses when she needs to do something outside, like take out the trash. I used scoff and go on and on about the time she wasted opening boxes. She pointed out that rifling for shoes on the floor of your closet while pushing aside the clothes hitting your face was the true waste of time. She was right.

One day while visiting her with the boys I decided to let her know she had a point about the shoes, and, during a moment of insanity, mentioned I should just do what she does and hope my house turns out half as organized as hers. She thought that was just great and started giving me all sorts of tips, which I promptly ignored. The clincher came at the end of the visit when I failed to return the TV remote control to it's rightful place in the TV Remote Control Caddy. For shame! She complained. I noted that she was crazy. She then delivered this little coup de grace, "Well, if you want to be like me you need to put things away in their proper location."

Oh. My. God. I left thirsty for many adult beverages.

Then, last week, the unspeakable happened. Again it turns out my mother was correct. This time about Tupperware and plastic containers. She hates all plastic items and thinks Tupperware is a waste of money. I've tried to bring her over to my side, but she won't budge. Instead, my mom continues to use the same Corning Ware containers for the last, oh, 30 plus years. You know the ones--they're white and they have the little blue flowers on the side. Yeah, those.

Here is how it all went down. I have a set of Corning Ware but only because I bought it as a wedding present and for one reason or another we never gave the set to the couple. It sat, unopened, in my garage for a couple of years because at the time Corning Ware = mom = shudder. I wanted something different. Something better. Eventually I got over it and started using them to serve food. They were fine, but nothing to hang onto desperately for 30 plus years. That is, until last week.

I was just getting ready to set up my lasagna in my favorite 13x9x2 pan when I realized it was still playing host to an orange cake. I picked out one of the Corning Ware dishes as a last resort. In fact, see that one on the right holding the food? That's the one I used.

Anyway, I set up the lasagna, put it in the oven, and when it was ready took it out and put it on the table. Hmm. That was easy. Then when we were done with dinner I--wait for it--put the lid on it and put the leftovers in the refrigerator. Sacre bleu! What is this?! I went from cooking to serving to storing in one fell swoop! I know you all think I'm crazy right now, but even though I watched my mom do this for 20 some odd years the practicality of it never really occurred to me. Now, looking back over the last 10 or so years, I'm the schmuck who cooked in a pan, served in a bowl, then stored in a Tupperware container. I've been cleaning three times as many dishes.

I hate to say it, but the older I get the "righter" my mom gets. This is an outrage! What's next? Blazers and sensible shoes?! I can't believe I'm admitting this, but now I'm thinking I need to expand my Corning Ware collection. I know, crazy. I always knew I would cherish my mom's Corning Ware dishes simply because they were hers ( she drive me crazy, but I love her). I just never thought I would actually find the God awful things practical.

Getting older is scary business. Scary business, indeed.