One of my childhood adventures was opening the door to our refrigerator.
Unlike today, no food or drink was marked with an expiration date. We lived on the brink of poverty so my mother never threw anything away. Before ingesting something out of the fridge, we had to smell it first. Once I forgot to take a sniff before taking a long swig of sour milk out of a glass bottle. I gagged and spit it out in the kitchen sink.
We lived by the words, “Eat around it.” Mom’s marble cake was my favorite dessert. Every now and then, I’d take a bite into a slice and see the white hair of mold growing between the chocolate and the vanilla. Take a left turn with my fork and eat around it, I was told.
I’m more selective now and refrain from eating spoiled foods. I check expiration dates, but they often confuse me because they seem unreliable. One loaf of bread can be stale a week before the “good until” date, yet another is still fresh a week after it.
I wonder why some of the stuff we buy in the store needs expiration dates at all. Bottled water expires? Should I be ashamed of myself if I serve a guest in my home a bottle of beer that “expired” three months ago?
Well then, maybe we ought to mark everything with an expiration date as a matter of convenience. Print the number of miles I’m supposed to get with my car tires on the sidewalls. Why do I have to go outside in the snow to see if the gas in my propane tank is nearly expired? There should be a gauge fixed to the inside of my garage wall.
When should I get my septic tank pumped out? How about putting that meter right next to the lever of my toilet bowl so I can watch the tank fill up after every flush.
Now I can’t expire my monthly bills, but I should be able to lower them. Excuse the expression, but when I open my electric bill, it often shocks me. I would like a dollars and cents calculator in my house so when I see the bill getting too high, I can shut down some of the power.
In our house, we don’t watch much TV. Why should I still have to pay the entire monthly bill when much of the time our TV is off? The electric company only charges me for usage, so the same principle should apply to turning the TV on and off.
Before any major appliance in my house expires and sticks me with a sudden replacement cost, a flashing light should come on with a statement of forewarning.
“I’m going to leak all over the floor in 10 days,” should be my hot water heater’s flashing message before it’s about to break.
Now allow my twisted mind to take this subject to a level of ridiculousness. Imagine if we all walked around with expiration dates imprinted behind our ears that were put there permanently when we came out of the womb. Just think of how we would live our lives if we knew the dates of our deaths.
Social Security would prefer that we die, but our life insurance companies want us to stay alive. We’d have to send them notarized photos of our expiration dates.
I’m glad I’m not a Doliana americana adult female mayfly. After she lays her eggs, she will die in less than five minutes and then drop onto the surface of a river where her body will likely be eaten by a hungry trout.
You think our lives are short? Go ask a mayfly and ask her what she thinks.
Some of the best things in life never expire. We’ll always have days filled with sunshine and nights brightened by the moon and stars. Great literature and movies will touch our hearts time after time.
When those who are dearest to us depart this world for the heavens above, they take with them our eternal affection and they leave behind memories that will last forever.
If you could purchase a human soul from a store, the words stamped on the package would be obvious.
“No date of expiration.”
Rich Strack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.