Expiration Dates

Our mother never paid much attention to expiration dates. Okay, well, truth be told she didn’t pay any attention to them. The bread was always used, even if a bit black with mold.  The same could be said of mayonnaise, salad dressings, milk and eggs. If either me or my sister was unable to eat the rancid items she had mixed together, Mother would simply say:

Well, you must not be very hungry.

And to reinforce her point, the “meal” of uneaten salmonella on a plate would remain there, unrefrigerated, until the next mealtime, as a reminder of our “wastefulness.”

If we children ever dared to ask about the expiration date printed on a food package, she would say

Oh, that’s just a suggestion. There is nothing wrong with these products. They just want you to buy more groceries so they can make a pretty penny!

cigarettesIt seemed like Mother could have cared less if we were subject to bouts of food poisoning. Yet never had to worry about two of her favorite products – cigarettes and booze – because they were consumed by her so quickly.

I guess the high alcohol content in her system protected her from any stomach maladies. Since Abby and I did not drink at the ages of eight and ten, and Mother never liked to share anything, we often felt queasy after eating one of her “meals”. And if we just could not put the crap she had fixed in our mouths, she stated that we obviously were not hungry.

Bottle of Jack DanielsMother took her dislike for expiration dates to the public library where she hated borrowing materials. Since she paid no attention to any expiration dates on food, my sister and I are sure she must have kept some books for so long that when she finally returned them, bells and alarms went off and she was grabbed by the library police. No doubt she was escorted out and told in no uncertain terms to never return. Thus her hatred for borrowing materials.

Another possibility might be that she took the Shakespeare quote from Hamlet

Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

William Shakespeare

very seriously. She prided herself on being a literary expert so no doubt felt superior to others around her when spouting off why she did not use the library. “You know what Shakespeare says, blah, blah, blah.” The truth is she was so hard on books that even if she did check them out, she would have been charged to replace them because of all the smears, smells and noxious fumes.

Maybe she was right. Mother was not the borrower type since she never liked to return things. Especially if there was an expiration date. No one was going to tell her how long she could keep a book! Not even the public library.

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