My refrigerator was getting a little crowded and I hadn’t shopped for anything for dinner so I scrounged the first layer of detritus and came up with dinner. Left-over marinated olive and sausage salad from Glorioso, chopped onion and tomato, and arugula tossed with pasta. Oh my god it was good.
I was thinking I’d make lemon pepper chicken on the grill for dinner since I saw an alluring (and complicated) recipe for the making of lemon pepper. But I was meeting an old friend for a drink after work and thought I really wouldn’t have enough time to actually make the lemon pepper which requires some oven time to dry properly, so I decided just to grill plain chicken but when I was at the store I saw they had pre-marinated lemon pepper chicken breasts. Good enough. Or so I thought.
I have purchased these pre-marinated chicken breasts from MetroMarket exactly one other time. The Italian marinated. I seemed to recall, while I stood at the butcher counter, that I hadn’t liked them but I wasn’t going to buy the Italian marinade, so fine. Later, after I’d purchased the marinated lemon pepper chicken and was in my car driving to meet my friend, there was a certain smell emanating from the package . . . and I recognized it immediately. Garbage. It’s what I hadn’t liked about the other marinated chicken I’d had. That smell was off-putting but I eat stuff that smells like garbage; sauerkraut juice, bleu cheese, cantaloupe, all the time.
They didn’t smell so much like garbage once they were grilled but they weren’t lip smacking. I ate them (one for dinner, 2 were for lunches) doused them with Frank’s Hot Sauce. It killed the stench and any suggestion of lemon pepper. I’ll eat anything.
The next day when I was going to work, I had the chicken in a bag. I could smell it. I was also taking out my garbage and of course a neighbor got on the elevator. I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t my garbage that smelled like that, it was my lunch. But I didn’t. I smiled and hoped I’d never see her again although if I were to bump into her again, I will not have any MetroMarket marinated chicken on me. Not falling for that garbage again.
It’s because garbage is really ugly. But also because it reveals so much about you that you may not want exposed like a small child who quite innocently says in a crowded elevator, “Daddy, why is there so much hair on your back?”
In an effort to use as little plastic as possible, the clear bags that cover my “naturally dry-cleaned” shirts have been conscripted to serve as garbage bags. (I am not sure what naturally dry-cleaned means and I don’t think the government, at this point anyway, regulates this sort of labeling. For all I know it’s being cleaned in full-on PCB liquid. Nonetheless, it sounds green and at this moment that’s about as good as I can make it unless I want to wash and iron my own shirts. Which I don’t. And I recycle the bags, fer chrissake.)
I am always self-conscious when I take out my garbage in these bags because people can see what I’ve been doing. Similarly, when I am taking out a recycling container of 20 billion, or so, wine bottles, I never like to run into people on the elevator. Of course, there’s no avoiding that in a condo with 50 units, so when I do run into people, I generally overly-quickly explain that I’ve just had a huge party (of wine snobs and then I roll my eyes, like, Right?!). And how does it happen that I NEVER run into anyone when the top of my recycling bin is covered with organic, free range tomato cans?
With garbage that is fully visible it’s a little harder to explain about the Li’l Debbie Jell-Creme Roll wrappers, all 17 of them, or the empty bottle of Quell. And I prefer to avoid having them see things about which they can be sourly judgmental. I imagine people looking at my garbage and thinking Oh, look how wasteful he is throwing out that sock, and Good Lord, look at all that lint! Though what that might say about me I don’t know.
So when I take out my garbage and run into people I like to be ready to ask some chipper conversation-starting questions while looking my fellow elevator travelers right in the eyes as I ask.
“How’s Tina doing in obedience school? Oh kindergarten? Whatever.”
That way they can’t really break my gaze, look away and judgmentally peruse my clear bag of molding avocado pits, empty tubes of blueberry flavored lubricating jelly and the Cap’n Crunch box.