It was a Friday night at Sam's Club. As Tom and I cruised the aisles of food, we had one of the many riveting conversations couples often have after more than two decades of marriage:
Him: "Aren't we out of pickles?"
Me: "Yes, but the only pickles they have here come in a barrel-size jar."
Him: "But if we get them, we wouldn't always be running out of pickles."
Me: "That's true, but it's gigantic. It won't fit in the refrigerator."
Him: "Pickles don't have to be in the refrigerator."
Me: "Are you sure? If that's true, why have we always kept them in the refrigerator?"
Him: "Of course it's true. Look, they're not in the refrigerator right now. They're in an aisle in the middle of Sam's Club, and they're fine."
Me: "I know, but some things have to be refrigerated after you open them... like ketchup and pickles."
Him: "Are you sure? Does the jar say we have to refrigerate after opening?"
Me: "I don't know. It's too heavy for me to lift and read the label."
Him: "This is ridiculous. We're getting the pickles, and we can figure this out later."
On the ride home – after we became the owners of a lifetime supply of pickles for only five dollars – I turned to the referee for these marital disagreements – Google. Sometimes we even place bets on who'll be proven right by Google's vast wisdom. Often the loser has to do the dishes or give the other one a foot rub.
It's a good thing we didn't wager on the pickle problem because my Google search produced contradictory results. Apparently, reasonable people can disagree on this question, especially online where everyone is firmly convinced of their rightness and even more convinced that everyone else is an idiot.
One guy who referred to himself as the "pickle police" said pickles must live in the fridge, but others claim they can go free-range in the pantry.
When Tom and I got home, the huge jar of pickles went into the pantry, where they stayed unopened for over a week. But last night I made grilled cheese sandwiches, and everyone knows a grilled cheese sandwich is best served with a crisp slice of pickle on the side.
So, Tom rented the jaws of life to open our giant jar of pickles. But now I'm in a real pickle about the pickles because the seal has been broken. It's time to decide – to refrigerate or not to refrigerate?
Since my refrigerator is designed for regular-sized food, there's no way the gargantuan jar of pickles can go in there. Should I set up a pickle transfer system? Scoop some pickles from the giant jar into a regular jar so I can store it in the fridge?
And then where do I put the opened giant jar? Do I roll the dice and keep them in the pantry? What if I end up with putrid pickles in the pantry? Is pickle poisoning a possibility? Ordinarily, I'd Google these questions, but the only thing people are more partisan on than politics is pickles.
So, the moral of this story is this: Sometimes buying bulk can save you money but cost you more mental energy than it's worth. Also, if you run out of pickles, you can have some of ours. Because if we don't use these by the date printed on the jar, I'll be in an even bigger pickle.
Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at [email protected]. Her book is available on Amazon.