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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Game, Set… Salad?

My refrigerator has become ‘The Place Where Leftovers Go to Die’.

It’s been a gradual progression from ‘icebox full of fresh tasty food’ to ‘air-conditioned coffin for last week’s takeout moo shu’. Partly, it’s because my wife and I aren’t home for many meals, because of our busy schedules. Also, when we are home, we have this quirky preference not to eat the same damned fried rice or soggy pizza for six nights in a row.

Mostly, though, it’s because we’re both waiting for the other to finish the last of the leftovers. Neither of us wants to rudely hog the last dregs of edible food in the house. It’s a little game we play. And we’re very stubborn. And very patient.

Right now, a chess match is developing over half a garden salad sitting in the fridge. I bought it last night, along with some pasta, and we shared it for dinner. There was a bit left over — but not quite enough for two. So, I left it for my wife and fended for dinner elsewhere — because chivalry is not dead. Not in my kitchen.

“Also, there’s only so much nasty rabbit food a man can eat in one twenty-four hour period without the benefit of beer, hot sauce, or some sort of crispy-fried dead animal.”

(Also, there’s only so much nasty rabbit food a man can eat in one twenty-four hour period without the benefit of beer, hot sauce, or some sort of crispy-fried dead animal. Having none of those, I left the lettuce for the lady of the house. Chicks dig the veggies, you know.)

She came home tonight and took the bait leftovers, as planned. Except she left a big honking wad of salad hanging out in the fridge. I told her she was welcome to finish it. She told me she couldn’t possibly. I insisted. She ignored me.

Game on, baby.

Now it’s my turn. Over the next few days, I’ll eat dinners out, bring dinners home, fix myself sandwiches, and generally act as though the salad in the fridge doesn’t actually exist. Meanwhile, my wife will be doing the same. We’ll dance this foodless fandango until one of us breaks down and eats the stupid salad, or until it morphs into something unrecognizable, moldy, and possibly oozing — at which point it goes in the trash. Either way, whoever touches the leftovers last loses. The goal of the game is to take the next-to-last portion, then hide behind ‘being polite’ to deny any responsibility for the final scraps of food.

Over the years, we’ve had some legendary matches. There was a half a can of olives that sat in our fridge for three years before I finally gave in, put on a hazmat suit, and disposed of them. Then there was the order of cheesy bread that occupied a shelf on the refrigerator door until they were but shriveled and petrified shadows of their former selves. I won that round when my wife turned to me and asked, ‘When did we buy beef jerky, anyway?‘ Luckily, she asked before she tried eating one, or we’d have both been in big trouble.

I have the utmost confidence that I’ll win this current ‘salad round’. I have a very good record with vegetable-related leftovers, and particularly those in clear plastic containers, like this one happens to be. If the missus has a weakness in this game, it’s that she can’t stand to watch the food deteriorate. Her specialty is cans and jars; I haven’t won a ‘screw-top battle’ for years. The closest I got was the ‘draw’ we called on a dubious-looking jar of jelly that was nearly old enough to vote. That was an epic.

But salad? Fuggedaboutit. It’s in the bag. I just hope she gives in and eats it, rather than trying to wait me out. Those hazmat suits are expensive as hell to rent.

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