Proud Moments in Adulthood: Milk Foot
At the beginning of each new year, there’s a scary window of self reflection that thankfully closes at the beginning of February. I haven’t made any major goals or resolutions, but I have been startled by several incidents that make me think I should be looking at the most basic building blocks of my life. Mostly, I mean my hygiene.
I have four bug bites on my left foot from a mysterious origin, and the whole foot has swollen up. I’m downing Benadryl and considering amputation. Wearing shoes and socks makes it itch more, so I’ve been wearing sandals in the rain. Thank goodness for my cubicle at work. It allows me to simultaneously talk to my boss and secretly ice my foot with a bag of ice I got from the building’s Coffee Bean (free of charge!). Icing your foot is not necessarily an office crime that needs to be hidden, but I don’t want to have to explain myself.
A couple years ago when I got hives, I mistook them for 100 flea bites. We’d just adopted a feral cat after all, and bugs have traditionally been completely unable to resist me. Exterminators hire me for some pied piper action. So, back then, I’d announced I was suffering from a flea infestation. Offices, because of their claustrophobic nature, do not treat news of possibly contagious afflictions with sympathy. The intern with bed bugs was promptly sent home. If you sneeze, people glare rather than say god bless you.
I couldn’t cope with my co-workers possibly learning of another bug infestation. Even though there had never been a bug infestation…just garden variety stress-induced hives, which is perfectly acceptable in the office because it’s not contagious. Since I was definitely acting suspiciously, intermittently massaging my foot with hydrocortisone cream, I felt I needed a reputation saving lie. My boyfriend came up with the ingenious “my hot, stylish high heels gave me blisters.” Of course all this worry about what my co-workers might think was just a projection of my own shame. I’d let bugs into my home, and I could see my mother sighing with disappointment, the way she had in high school when I often neglected to shower, but that’s another story.
I resolved to take action. I vacuumed, changed the sheets and poisoned my cat’s fur with flea treatment. I was feeling better about the situation. The swelling seemed to be going down on my foot. I went to the kitchen to hunt for food. This was no small feat. Since coming back from my parents’, I’ve refused to go grocery shopping. Doing so would represent fully entering 2013 and claiming adult responsibility, and after a week of being fed by my parents, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that.
In keeping with the regressive theme, my roommate had just brought home two boxes of cereal, the kind I was denied as a child, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs and Golden Grahams. That’s all he bought at the store. He didn’t buy milk because neither of us trust each other to consume the milk before it goes bad. But to my surprise, I found a quart of milk in the fridge. A childhood fantasy was about to be fulfilled, but then I checked the expiration date. July 2012. Had this milk really been in my fridge for almost half a year? How had this happened? I’m not nineteen anymore. I was mystified.
I sniffed the milk. It wasn’t horrible. I’ve encountered truly rotten milk before, and lets just say my refrigerator is really really good. I tossed the milk in the trash, which is really more a collection of take out containers, and decided to clean the entire fridge. Had I really been letting things slip? A perfectly preserved, dead fly at the back of the fridge confirmed my suspicions. It is a really good fridge.
I told my roommate about the fly and milk, and he resolved to clean more in the new year. What a marvelous time of year. Everything seems incredibly meaningful and indicative of personal shame. It’s a national period of self-scolding. But then there’s the sense that now is the time to change. This is the month where the shape of our bodies and our lifestyles come under incredible scrutiny, and we believe we can take the reins and regain control. There’s tremendous hope and promise. Or at least, there is occasionally. Right now I seriously doubt I can guarantee there won’t be a January 2013 milk discovered in July.