My wife and I had a spat a few days ago. It was about where the spray bottle of Nifti was going to live, and if you can never find anything in your own home I will have your sympathy.
I use the Nifti to wipe clean the external surfaces of the gas barbecue on the back patio before each use, and the Nifti itself has been the cause of a kerfuffle or two. For several years my wife insisted on buying so-called eco-friendly degreasers that didn't work, so I'd toss them and urge her to replace them with the product we knew did the job, Nifti.
Nifti, she'd insist, was no longer made and she'd buy something else that didn't do as the cartoon figure on the label promised, and finally when I discovered online that Nifti was still around she found it in a supermarket. That took several years longer than it should have, several years I won't get back.
Anyway, as well as wiping over the barbecue I use Nifti also to wipe the top of the pink Laminex table on the patio before I barbecue or brew, to clean the gas heaters at the beginning and end of winter, to clean road grime from my pushbike. And the most stressful thing about that, even more stressful than trying to work with a product that doesn't work, is the fact that I can never find it. I can never find it because it is never where I put it after I used it last. It has reached the sad stage where even the suggestion of a barbecue or a pushbike ride sees my anxiety soaring.
I wonder if it is the shape of certain things that makes them invisible to me. I mean, the butter is in a tub rather than being the wrapped rectangular block of old, and I don't recall ever having a problem finding the butter when we used the blocks 30 years ago.
On Tuesday afternoon the exchange went as it always goes. Where's the Nifti this week? "It's in the cupboard." Which cupboard? "The cupboard under the sink." Which sink? "In the bathroom." Which bathroom? "The back bathroom." It's not there. "Then look in the laundry cupboard." Which cupboard? "The one under the sink."
Nope, after removing 30 spray bottles of glass cleaner and furniture polish and whatever else it wasn't there. So with exaggerated weariness she looked and she found it, in the cupboard under the laundry sink she says, and I insisted that forevermore the Nifti live in the corner on the bench in the laundry, next to the torch. The new permanence of the torch's home was an earlier squabble that came to a head five minutes into a blackout a year ago.
She refused to allow the Nifti to be kept on the laundry bench, adding that the only problem was that I didn't look. "You don't looook," she said again for impact. Suddenly, after years of not being able to find the degreaser, I'd had enough. I didn't want to bloody well look! I didn't need the aggravation of having to look for the Nifti!
Yes, I raised my voice. I didn't shout, only because I can't shout, but my crankiness was abundantly evident. The Nifti is still in the corner on the bench, and if and when I see that it's not I'm going to nip down to the supermarket and buy a new bottle to put in the corner. We could end up with 50 bottles of Nifti, which won't be a bad thing.
Mostly our spats have to do with my wife moving things out of my line of sight. Take the butter. It is supposed to live in the first of the two fridges, the one on the left, and even when it is in that fridge it is never where I can see it. Where, I'll ask my wife, is the butter today? "If you say 'today' again I'm going to hit you," she'll snap back, and now you'll know why I have a nervous disposition.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
So, she finds the butter at the back of a shelf, hidden behind the marmalade, the cheese, the sliced ham and the pasta sauce. How, I ask, am I supposed to find the butter at the back of the shelf? "By looooking," she says, which is unhelpful.
A year ago I had the bright idea of keeping a tub of butter in the fridge on the right, which is usually referred to as Dad's fridge, and the plan was that the butter would always be at the front of the top shelf. It was never at the front of the top shelf when I looked for it, and the reason was that someone would put it in the fridge on the left after they'd taken it from the fridge on the right and used it. The problem was that I'd have to search two fridges before my wife would find it at the back of a bottom shelf in the fridge on the left, so I've surrendered.
Sometimes I wonder if it is the shape of certain things that makes them invisible to me. I mean, the butter is in a tub rather than being the wrapped rectangular block of old, and I don't recall ever having a problem finding the butter when we used the blocks 30 years ago. Plastic wrap in its long rectangular dispenser is also invisible to me. It lives on either of two benches in our kitchen and so I would expect to spot it with a sweep of the eyes. No. I know it's there so I will start at one end of each bench, putting a hand on every object as I move along. Finally I'll wrap whatever it is in greaseproof paper, which lives in the third drawer down in the extreme right cupboard. Usually.
Some things I find easily in the fridge. I find oranges, for example, and I find them because they are where they are supposed to be, in the crisper. I find cheese, because it is to be found in the cheese compartment. And ice cubes are always in the freezer. And chilli sauce is always on the door of my fridge, because no one else uses it.
I like things to be today where they were yesterday, even if that is on a bench and even if I get walloped.