Friday, August 12, 2011


     Mom and I have very little in common.  I’m an imposing figure who can reach the top of the top shelf.  Children like her because they think she’s one of them.  I like Rocky Road, flaming purple, big earrings, and bourbon. She likes French Vanilla, a neutral palette, simple pearl studs, and a nice ice water.  People expect me to kill their bugs for them.  People pat her on the head and protect her from the bugs.  You get it … we’re different.  I just accepted the fact that we would never see eye to eye (literally) when I was in middle school and I lived with this acceptance until long after I married The Yankee.  That is, until one fateful day my comfy world came crashing down on me.   

My mother and I collect jars. 
I don’t know why.  I don’t know how it got started.  I don’t know what purpose they serve.  All I know is I was trying to put groceries away one day and was having trouble finding a place for the sports drinks The Yankee consumes by the bathtub-full.  I left them in a bag by the back door.  He comes in a says, “What’s this for?”  I said, “Oh, it’s your sports drink fix for the week.  I can’t fit it in the kitchen so I thought you could store them in the garage.”  He gives me that annoying, “Leave it to the men” look I’d love to chisel off his face, and takes off for the kitchen.  “BERRRRRRT!” he screams, “What’s with all the frickin’ jars?”  I tried to fight in self-defense, “There aren’t that many, really.”  He raises an eyebrow at me and flings the pantry door wide open.  “Not that many?” he shrieks, “You have an entire collection of jars!  We could open a museum.  We could call it ‘Bertha’s Jar-seum’ and sell tickets.”  I was offended.  “I can’t throw away something that is perfectly useful.  I can use them to get rid of old fryer oil or to give away salad dressing or use it as a candy jar.”  He rolled his eyes, “Get real.  The only person you ever give stuff to is your mother because you know she’ll give the dang jar back to you.  It’s a vicious cycle and it always ends up with US having more JARS!”  I held my chest in a mock coronary attack, “I can’t believe you’ve forgotten all about the countless craft projects I’ve made for you!”  “Oh, you mean the ‘pencil holder’ you wrapped in foil?  I forgot to thank you for that, didn’t I,” he said with a sneer.  I bit my knuckles in indignant agony.  “That was a silver-plated husband of the year award,” I said, nearly hyperventilating, “How can you be in the running for next year’s award if you keep having this attitude and I have no jars?!”  “I’ll risk it,” he answers, totally unfeeling.  As he heaves my precious collection into a box, I mourn the loss of my tomato sauce jars that still smell of tomatoes.  The baby food jars from when Buttercup was learning to eat strained prunes.  And the funny little marshmallow fluff jar that I sent to Mom filled with chicken soup, which she returned to me filled with a rooted sample of a Christmas cactus, which I returned to her filled with some paperclips I found, which she returned to me filled with creamed corn.  I’m still waiting for that burst of inspiration I need to make my own apple butter so I can send it to her again.  Despite my mournful daydreaming, The Yankee kept tossing.  

To try and save on his blood pressure, (which is a geyser on permanent standby, I might add), I stepped in, removed some of the offending jars and put them in a box by the back door. 

Why do I have so many jars? 

This is a question for my mother, so I call her up.  “Mom?  Why do we keep jars?”  There is a long silence on the other end of the phone.  “Why wouldn’t we keep jars?  They’re glass, they’re sturdy, and they’re useful for something,” she says.  “True,” I continue, “But we just give each other stuff back and forth so our number of jars never actually decreases.  I’m just wondering if you can shed some light on this before The Yankee starts yelling.”  “I use mine for craft projects, Bertha.  You loved that little silver plated daughter-of-the-year award I gave you.”  I panic for a moment while I think of a way to move around that subject.  “Well, I sent you home with a jar of chicken soup and it’s back in my pantry now.  They seem to be multiplying at an alarming rate.  Last time I looked, you had more than I do!”  I hear an exasperated huff on the other end of the phone.  “I don’t have that man-nee,” she says in that halting tone she gets when she’s irritated and it makes her feel better to add an extra, emphatic syllable at the end of each phrase.  “If you have too many jar-zuh, that’s not my problem-muh.”  

I could tell I was hitting close to a nerve so I changed the subject.  Nobody gets that upset over jars.  I certainly don’t. 

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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