Every day, I thank my lucky stars for the luxurious modern conveniences I enjoy that my parents never had: disposable baby wipes, cell phones, drive-through coffee shops, salad in a bag and curiously strong breath mints. But every once in a while, I am reminded of that old French phrase: Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
Roughly translated, this means: "You will never find a plastic top that fits the container you choose to store leftovers in."
My mother used to have Tupperware, and I remember it being a challenge when I was a child to find the matching top for a given container. You'd have to look in a couple of places -- first, the hanging rack that the Tupperware tops could grip onto with their little tabs for the first year, before you started melting those tabs in the dishwasher.
Next you'd look in the cabinets, where the tops were pushed randomly to one side or the other. Finally, you'd have to resort to the dreaded kitchen drawer.
Ours was a jumble of Tupperware tops, eraserless pencils, floppy plastic flowers used for opening jars, twist-ties for bags, condiment packets and dangerously sharp frilly toothpicks. Today, in Janet's World, we have a remarkably similar kitchen drawer.
At any rate, let us return to 1971, after you had been rummaging around unsuccessfully for a Tupperware top for a few minutes. Your mother would sigh and join your search party for a time, but she also wouldn't be able to find a top that fit, so she'd resort to covering the container with some of that unique clear film that stuck fast to itself or her hands but never to anything else.
After laying a layer of noncling wrap loosely over that Tupperware of hot soup, she'd balance it precariously on top of something else in your harvest-gold refrigerator.
Later that evening, your dad would open the refrigerator vigorously and launch pea soup clear across the linoleum, onto the brand-new avocado shag rug in the living room. Luckily, the stain would be nearly the same hue.
My point is, missing container tops can cause significant marital stress. I have experienced this in my home.
It is maddening that I can walk into the garage and ask for the duct tape, and my spouse can produce it immediately; but can he step into the kitchen and ask for a top for the salad he put together for lunch? No. Because there will be no top that fits that particular container any longer, anywhere.
Imagine my unbridled enthusiasm when grocery stores started stocking disposable plastic containers in all shapes and sizes in the food-storage aisle. I thought that this would be the end of my frustrating and pervasive search for container tops. But I was wrong.
I am still continually short one top; specifically, the particular one I am looking for. I was thinking of writing to the manufacturer and suggesting that they package these container sets with one extra top, but then I realized it would be of no use, because I have discovered that the tops are ... transformers. Yes, it is illogical, it is fantastical, but it is the only plausible explanation: tops metamorphose into bottoms over time.
Sometimes, just for fun, they join together and merge into one huge top for a bottom you don't own. But you might never notice this enormous top because generally you select the container first, then look for its top.
Well, friends, we can stop looking already. The jolly scientists at Glad have developed a remarkable solution to the national container-top shortage: stock up on "Press and Seal" wrap.
Or start storing your tops in the garage, next to the duct tape.
Contact Janet at janet@janet gilbertonline.com.