Kitchen Floor

We live in a tri-level home, with too many stairs, and not a lick of carpet. Our stairs and great room are tiled. Hard, stone tile. I didn’t choose it, and I don’t want to spend money changing it, because I don’t stick around places. Inability to settle. Fear of dust. Wanderlust.

The joy of stone floors…. coolish in the Summer. Un-stainable. The unhelpful thing about stone floors- their ability to catch dishes in a shattering way, allowing shards to shoot corner-to-corner, twenty-three feet. Twenty-three feet of broken glass. Eight feet of humans. And just as many hands tending to open without any regard for contents.

A few days ago my son brought some dishes down from the previous night’s sleep-over. Ā I held my breath as he descended the stairs with his high-rise of plates, bowls, and a peanut butter jar drinking glass. He successfully made it to the sink, where he carefully unloaded everything from the wobbly tower. Dish by dish made it to the sink, then, for no apparent reason, the bottom plate jumped out of his hand.

Every time this happens it’s the same. We all watch the poor dish on it’s quick trip to the stone floor. We’re frozen in place, our bare toes curling under in anticipation. Once the shattering unfolds, there’s a quick glance to the dropper, whose face has fallen into a sheepish guilt slant. I usually go into care-taker mode-

“Everyone stay where you are!” as I tip-toe to the broom and dustpan, and “it’s ok! No worries!” as I tend to glass and bruised egos.

Sometimes it isn’t ok. Sometimes it’s an antique dish or sentimental tea cup. Sometimes I get a sliver in my foot that hurts for days. Sometimes I’ve just vacuumed and my back hurts and I can’t believe we’re doing this again. But I try like hell to quickly alleviate the embarrassment that comes with causing a chaotic mess. And I’m glad I do.

Yesterday we had a fruit fly invasion. Early in the morning I set glasses of tasty traps on every shelf and counter. Then in the afternoon I got my step-stool and vacuum and prepared to capture each little critter that hadn’t yet succumbed to soapy sugar water.

I was really happy with how well my plan was working, and let out a celebratory “WAHOO SUCKAHS!” My sons watched with raised brows. I should have quit while ahead, having sucked up several fruit flies. But then I saw it. The solitary pest, sitting on the rim of one of the death-jars, way up on the top shelf. It looked so defiant. I raised the vacuum attachment, went in for the kill, and… knocked the jar to the kitchen floor, where it shattered and scattered, from the front door to the back.

I looked up at my kids with that sheepish guilt slant. My clothes were doused in vinegar and dead bugs. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw that solitary fruit fly buzz away, unharmed. I simply could have cried.

“Stay where you are!” said one son, as he got the broom.

“It’s ok!” said the other.

I smiled.

Tales from my kitchen, where dishes die on the floor


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