Sherry Young: Keep your marriage from going down the drain

Published: Wednesday, April 10 2013 6:39 p.m. MDT

I have discovered this not to be an unusual circumstance between many couples, even spilling out into the world as environmentalists and governments wrestle with the proper usage of the thing.

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With a marriage that has lasted going on 54 years, it speaks to the fact that Grit and I have been able to negotiate our differences and somehow live in peace. That may be because for just over 40 years of our marriage we didn’t own a garbage disposal.

What the advent of one in our marriage created is a devil-may-care user and a garbage cop. I have discovered this not to be an unusual circumstance between many couples, even spilling out into the world as environmentalists and governments wrestle with the proper usage of the thing.

They warn us of starchy foods (pasta, rice and potato peels that expand and clog the drain), egg shells (the thin membrane can wrap around a blade), coffee grinds, fruit pits and grease.

I was always under the assumption that everyone knew not to put fat or grease down a drain, but wouldn’t you know there are always exceptions.

One morning I arrived early for book club to help my normally wise and possessor of good common sense friend with the lunch. She was frying up chicken in a pan. Once she had finished transferring the chicken to a baking dish she picked up the pan and poured the grease right down her disposal. I was shocked. I may enjoy using my disposal but even I do not do that. My friend was a cavalier drain clogger!

Situations like that one and another that occurred on a Thanksgiving Day turned my husband onto the merits of patrolling a kitchen. Stacy, dear wife of our son Tom, had peeled a large amount of potatoes into the sink and then began stuffing them into the garbage disposal. It started up for a short time then ground to a stop. The magic red button wouldn’t coax the disposal to work, so it had to be taken off and emptied of the contents. Not an easy job, especially if you aren’t a plumber.

His biggest effort was when he discovered the horrible noise in the disposal was a Match Box car. One of our little grandsons had somehow and for some reason put it in without anyone noticing.

That particular disposal was run by water which made the gears move (an ingenious disposal termed the Hydromaid that never quite caught on). He had to patiently pick out all the little pieces of metal from the layered gears, but he did get it to work.

After that painstaking episode, he somehow manages to keep an eye on the garbage disposal while paying attention to a football game. Whenever he hears the disposal go on he appears next to me like I am the mad woman of Chaillot scheming against the establishment.

Ralph Gardner, who writes a blog for the Wall Street Journal, has a humorous take on being "a food scrap defensive lineman, keeper of the bacon grease, a one-man SWAT team against anything that seems to have designs on my drain except for harmless liquids. … We’re the keepers of civilized society, the best, last bulwark against universal chaos. … I’m just saying that those of us who dig the scraps out of the drain at the last possible instant, keeping our pipes safe, are the same people who make the trains run on time, who put a man on the moon, who keep society relentlessly pushing forward.”

Or backward? Like men who will only buy cars built in the USA even when all the parts are foreign.

Stacy has a disposal in her new home that you can barely hear go on. Perhaps the key to saving my marriage is installing one of those. He won't notice it go on and then I can cheerfully, of course using wisdom and caution, throw things down the drain with abandon.

sasy14@gmail.com

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