Yesterday, in the words of one of my favorite children’s books*, was a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
I was unsettled. Out of kilter. Overwhelmed. Under-able. I was so awash in pity that the lyrics to Jimmy Buffet’s song, “My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don’t Love Jesus” kept running through my mind.
The house needs painting, the laundry needs washing, the kids need to be more helpful, the bills need to be paid, I need to be do more volunteer work, the cat needs to go to the vet, the plants need to be watered, I’m not sure how to manage a few financial hurdles, I have no sangria, and I’m struggling with subject-verb agreement.
I wasn’t awash in pity. I was wallowing in it. Bathing in it.
In my head, I was chanting the lyrics to an old childhood song, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna eat some worms.” And then, sure enough, things got worse.
A few days earlier, when the kids and I returned from Reunion Weekend, we’d noticed an “off” smell in the house. So “off,” in fact, that the kids refused to hang out downstairs. It was foul. It was pervasive. It was an “unwelcome” mat. After a good bit of head-scratching, cautious-tiptoeing, hesitant-door-opening and reluctant pantry-sniffing. I found the culprit – a decomposed, liquefied potato.
I tossed it immediately. The smell, however, lingered. Indeed, it worsened.
For the next couple of days, I burned candles, sprayed Febreze, ran the fans, and “aired” out the house – in 97 degree heat.
The funk remained.
Combined with my own foul mood, that stench made misery for everyone. I typically turn to cooking to lift my mood, so I began making up a batch of Darling Daughter’s favorite macaroni and cheese for supper and chopping the ingredients needed to re-stock the basement freezer with marinara sauce.
Um. Did I say “freezer”?
Dammit. (Sorry, Mom.) My super-sleuthing and super-sniffing hadn’t extended to the basement. Dammit. So now, cracking the basement door was akin to opening the gates of Hell. Poets write of hell reeking of sulfur and brimstone, but I’d say Hell is a personal matter. For me, Hell smells like 30 pounds of putrefied, decomposing chicken, oozing out a freezer door.
Trust me, I could be far more graphic – describing, for example, how the various plastic zippered bags holding far-from-frozen poultry were either inflated like balloons, or had already burst, releasing foul, black used-to-be-chicken sludge – but really, who wants to hear about that?
So just like that, my pity party was over. I had to get to work. No time for self-indulgent navel gazing. Time to put on those big girl panties. I had to scoop poultry residue from a fridge.
And then, come up with something decidedly “not poultry” for lunch. Something like this cool, refreshing cucumber salad.
Hold the worms.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 very small clove of garlic, minced, then mashed to a paste with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 seedless (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced
Combine first five ingredients, to make a dressing. Toss in cucumber slices. Chill slightly and serve.
*Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
** That’s “crap.” With an “s-h.”