…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Monday, July 17, 2006

a wonderlier® bowl of one's own

Forty-five people were expected at my parents' ranchito Saturday for an extended family reunion, so naturally my mother had made enough scalloped potatoes for 100. Actual head count: 30. The low turnout was attributed to a variety of reasons, many of which impugned the character of those not in attendance, but I thought it perfectly acceptable to avoid the California high desert during fire season—with blazes actively flanking my parents' property to the north and the south—on a day that promised, and delivered, a high of 106 degrees. But maybe my cousin was just using her daughter's asthma as an excuse.

My aunt was pouring the leftover scalloped potatoes into a very large ceramic bowl that was long past heaping. She kept pausing to glower at the volume, willing the thick glop of creamy potatoes to somehow settle and make room for more.

“I could take some off your hands,” I suggested. I *heart* my mother's scalloped potatoes, and she only makes them on special occasions, like, to celebrate fire season.

“Oh, good idea,” my mom said, then, assessing the overflow, exclaimed, “And I have just the container!” With that, she hurried out the door of the kitchen and crossed the yard to The Shed™. (No offense to certain readers of this blog who may have quite handsome sheds of their own, sheds that serve their sheddy utilities very well at that, but this is no ordinary shed. Were one to amuse The Shed™—an act I didn't think possible until recently—it wouldn't so much snicker as explode in paroxysms of mirth.) Mom returned with a plastic clamshell container, the kind one would get when ordering, say, a quart of macaroni salad at the grocery store deli counter. These are the sorts of things for which one apparently needs a gigantesque shed.

In light of our utterly bizarre weather of late—humidity in California?—no doubt signaling the death knell of a planet at last defeated by our timeless quest for convenience and transient gratification, my mother's frugality has become something of an asset. Disposability is in the eye of the beholder, and neither squares of aluminum foil nor plastic forks are squandered at the ranchito until they're utterly spent.

During my childhood my family's thrift was a source of embarrassment. Also confusion, as demonstrated by the dreaded shell game "Which margarine container in the refrigerator actually contains margarine?" Ungrateful at the time for the ascetic ideals I would later value, I selfishly yearned for Tupperware.

Tupperware was rarely sold at yard sales, from whence came most of our household goods and clothing. When it did pop up, it was generally warped beyond use—or stinky. And even when perfectly good Tupperware appeared, my mother, for her own arcane reasons, refused to buy it. “You don't know what people have been doing with that,” she fairly spat, though, curiously, she had no compunctions about buying used bed sheets and bath towels. Wanting to understand the distinction I pushed for details, but she couldn't come up with any specific scenarios to illustrate her fears. I knew from experience, though, that urine figured prominently in her distrust of strangers.

I grew up in a part of Orange County that was, during my youth, one part residential to three parts agricultural. And while we loved going to local fruit and vegetable stands for our produce, my mother admonished me never to eat so much as a strawberry until we got home, where it could be properly washed. I thought she was concerned about dirt, something I had eaten a fair amount of in my childhood, until she told me that the immigrants who worked in the fields relieved themselves on the fruit to “get back at whitey.” And lest I think this was aberrant behavior, she also advised me never to send food back at restaurants. (Having worked for a number of years in a restaurant with an all-immigrant kitchen staff, I can say with some certainty that line cooks in general exercise no such urine vendetta against diners, even picky ones, but pissing off waiters is a total crapshoot.)

No one wants Tupperware that's been used to collect or distribute urine—for which vessels suburban needs are myriad. And no one's fool enough to pay retail for new pieces when our lives are so very rich with empty margarine tubs and plastic clamshell deli containers, especially when The Shed™ is there to store an airplane hangar's worth of storage containers—and, good God, how we Americans love storage: One need only observe the checkout aisles at Target, with all those shoppers buying coffin-size plastic bins, to witness our zeal for stuff and the putting away of it.

Logic against such profligacy aside, I grew up with a platonic fetish for genuine Tupperware. (Rubbermaid knockoffs just aren't the same.) But it took many years of adulthood and financial independence before I treated myself to a few pieces. Old notions die hard, and in my world Tupperware was for those with more disposable income—and far less monetary sense.

In short, I was a sitting duck when Phranc came to my workplace to host an afternoon party—working as I do to further the Gay Agenda™, my company's HR goddess thought it the ideal office event—demonstrating the wondrous wares of Earl Tupper. The überbutch lesbian folksinger and latter-day Tupperware Lady has elevated the classic home sales party to the level of performance art—and she brings her guitar to strum out a ditty about the miraculous burping plastics.

Who could resist her androgynous wile? Besides, I gave Phranc absolutely no reason to pee on anything I purchased from her.

And so it is that I finally have Tupperware of my own. The phabulous Phranc sold me two CrystalWave™ soup mugs. The little red nubbins let steam escape when microwaving!

Two sandwich keepers, for the sound use of which I must caution you to buy squarish loaves of bread, not the pillow-size loaves that are increasingly the norm:

Your classic Wonderlier® bowl:

And a neat-o cake decorating set that Tupperware International seems to have discontinued, making it a comparative rarity that just makes it more special.

But we didn't stop there, my partner and I. We've since acquired a round cake taker, which, alarmingly, we bought at a yard sale. (Only a barbarian would pee in a cake taker.)

A Jel-Ring® mold, allowing us to make fabulously retro desserts:

And a snack cup set, for your peanuts and cottage cheese and what have you. These little guys compete with the CrystalWave™ soup mugs for Most-Used Tupperware status:

I still covet a Spin 'N Save™ salad spinner, one of the pricier items in the Tupperware catalog. It would be perfect for rinsing the urine from my farmers' market greens, and if I had one, I would eat salad every single day for the rest of my life.

Can a shed really be so far behind?


Blogger Slangred said...

Going off on a tanget re: your margarine container shell game: One of my two best friends in college was a Vietnamese immigrant who left the old country as a small boy with his mom and sister (by the skin of their teeth--I think their exit was harrowing although that's another story). They settled in Southern CA, and he went to school where I did in Northern CA.

Roger went home to visit mom one weekend and when next I saw him, he had a tragic story about being home, and feeling like a snack. He found a carton of yogurt in the fridge, but when he checked the date, it was expired BY A COUPLE OF YEARS. He threw it out without checking the contents (do you blame him?).

His mother called him in a panic a few days after he returned to school. She asked him about a missing yogurt container. Apparently, she had used a cleaned out container to house the only jewelry she had of value--whether sentimental or monetary or both, I don't remember. By then, the trash was long gone.

Perhaps because I knew Roger from our French classes, and because we had great fun going out to local businesses and practicing halting French accents to fool the staff and other customers into thinking we were visiting Parisians, his story always had the dramatic end-twist of an Emile Zola. Ever read "The Necklace?" Good stuff, as far as nineteenth-century French short stories go.

7:03 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

SOO MUCH here to comments on. Let me start with Phranc burping the tupperware in my ear as one of the prodest lesbian moments of my life. Very sexy.

I have to say, no disrepect to former snickering sheds, but THE SHED is one of the most frightening pieces of architectural wrong I have ever witnessed.

Oh, and if someone could, please lend me an asthmatic child so I can skip this thing next year.

8:09 PM  
Blogger the only daughter said...

My mom was a Tupperware lady eons ago. We never owned any, except for cast off demo pieces. Brings back some *odd* memories. I'm still trying to break the reusing margarine tubs habit. hmph

Would love to see the lyrics to the ditty about miraculous burping plastics.
Funny stuff.

8:19 AM  
Blogger the only daughter said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:19 AM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

I am the bestest girlfriend in all the land. Why? You ask why? Because I have just purchased (for my Honey!) a new set of snack cups (we've misplaced two of the original three) and...and...and


Plus, in a display of selfishness, I bought a Tupperware colander, because she makes me use the largest colander in the history of the world and I hate it.

And... the summer surprise. For a mere $5 (with my $50+ purchase--the Salad Spinner is $38!) I get $25 worth of Tupperware surprise. I can't wait.

10:02 AM  
Blogger treecup said...

Wow, that must be some salad spinner! 38???

I've never been to a tupperware party. If you had one I would go! Think of the free things you'd get!

The best tupperware party free thing I've ever seen is a mini Wonderlier bowl key chain. *CUTE*

1:31 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said... think anything mini is cute. Still Tupperware keychain has an appeal.

2:56 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

My mother has three kitchen cabinets dedicated to holding her food storage containers. It's not Tupperware any longer however. It's Lock & Lock all the way these days.

But three cabinets full? Maybe Wendy and I should get down there and build her a shed so she can expand without having to remodel her kitchen.

6:38 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

Thankfully, I'm guessing such an erection would be in violation of your mother's new homeowner's association agreement.

Love the post, Scout. :)

9:18 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

"...relieved themselves on the fruit to “get back at whitey.”"


11:58 AM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

Do you not feel the least bit daunted by the commitment to eating a salad every day for the rest of your life given the purchasing prowess of the bestest girlfriend in all the land?

8:24 AM  
Blogger Slangred said...

FYI, Woot has a salad spinner on sale today (7/20) that also slices and grates! For under 38, if I'm not mistaken...

12:29 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

Oh, I just want to see if she eats salad every day for a week. When I bought it for her, she said, "you don't like salad all that much." And I said, "I didn't make a commitment to eat salad. You did."

Slang: Phranc was VERY disparaging about knockoff salad spinners. And electric ones? That's approaching Table Mate II sloth.

3:01 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Oh I see how it is. Tupperware snobs, you are!

4:03 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

Not to be too serious, or anything, but I would gladly urinate in George Bush's tupperware. Or is that on George Bush's tupperware? (Insiders laugh.)

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you hear about bush massaging the chancellor of germany at a G-8 conference? talk about inappropriate. i bet she would join you in your pee party...she looked absolutely mortified.

10:51 AM  
Blogger alice, uptown said...

I had never considered the idea of a lesbian Tupperware party -- in my experience, only stay-at-home Moms with conservative politics sold such items -- but reading your post has made me wish someone would invite me to one.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Seeing Phranc in action (only on film, sadly, not in person) inspired me to become a Tupperware Man. I am doing well so far, I am one of the Top 10 sellers in the UK.

Tip: if you want a salad spinner, you should host a party yourself. You may get it for free if your friends buy enough.

2:14 AM  

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