By Pam Walters
My minimalist friend, Suzanne, is urging me to let her reorganize my tiny kitchen.
“When’s the last time you used this?” she asks as she hoists my KitchenAid mixer up onto the counter. I’ve been storing it under the sink with the cleaning supplies. “And what did you use it for?”
“Let me think… it was maybe six or seven years ago. I made my famous Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt cake with a drizzle of lemon icing. It’s a real crowd-pleaser.”
She pushes on. “Do you see yourself whipping that up again anytime soon?”
“You never know,” I replied.
Suzanne continues to search through my cabinets and my clothes closet. Suddenly, she turns around laughing and says, “Pam, you’re a small appliance whore.”
I laugh a little. I can tell from her tone she’s only half-kidding.
I do own practically every kitchen gadget ever invented. I’ve held on to the devices over the years and even added to my collection with an Instant Pot, an air fryer, a complicated Keurig one-cup coffee maker as well as a Nespresso machine. I can tell she’s trying to be gentle with me because she hesitates before speaking. Then her question comes out in a whisper.
“Why do you have all these contraptions?”
“They represent a full life,” I say. “I’m seventy-years old-ish, never been married, never had any kids. I don’t belong to any bridge groups or book clubs. I live in a studio. I never entertain. And when I get together with friends, we go out to eat in a restaurant.”
“So, what’s going on?” she asks.
“They’re part of a dream,” I respond. “No, more like expectations. I’ve always had this fantasy about having a gigantic family and scads of friends to cook for. For example, brunch has always been the indication of enjoying the good life. I picture myself holding court in the center of the kitchen. Spread out on the middle island are several beautifully prepared dishes. The centerpiece… lamb tagine. I used my Instant Pot, and it was ready in forty minutes flat. There are other side dishes. My Cuisinart to the rescue again: an array of vegetables diced perfectly and served with various dipping sauces whipped up brilliantly thanks to my handy Oster blender. The blender is also going full speed, creating eight different kinds of exotic drinks. Of course, for dessert, there’s a selection: two fruit pies, apple and boysenberry—crusts made from scratch thanks to the ingenious Cuisinart dough hook, and a three-layer tiramisu cake. Kudos to my KitchenAid mixer. Then back to the KitchenAid for fresh whipped cream.”
“Pam, this has never happened. What are the chances a gathering like this will take place in the future?” She’s smiling at me, but I know she’s right. It’s not as if I haven’t thought about letting go of this fantasy. Then I think up occasions where I can make something handmade and startle my friends. The months go on, and each time I consider pulling one of them down from a cabinet, the urge disappears. And the years roll on.
Suzanne is one of a handful of true friends. I trust her. I’ve always believed that girlfriends stand together, holding each other’s hands while we face the truth about ourselves.
It’s taken me a few days to get a grip on the situation. I remind myself that I lived through finding out there’s no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, or Prince Charming. Finally, I’m ready.
I take turns putting my appliances on the dining room table, then cleaning and polishing them. They look brand new; in fact, many of them are. Then I decide to post them on a neighborhood app: The KitchenAid mixer, the Cuisinart food prep, a panini press, a gigantic Breville toaster-oven, an air-fryer, my Instant Pot, the Keurig one-cup coffee machine as well as the Nespresso machine, a juicer, a waffle maker, an old-fashioned CrockPot, an enormous Oster blender, an eight-slice toaster, and the largest George Foreman grill they make.
I’m getting lots of inquiries. They’re mostly from people who are trying to find out how much I’ll take off. (I checked all the prices on eBay, and they’re quite reasonable.) It was hard enough to make the decision to let go of everything, and now it’s getting unpleasant. I have all my contraptions sitting on the floor in the living room. Sometimes when I look at them, I start to waver on my decision. I want to be done with the project. People are squashing my dream into pennies on the dollar. Perhaps I can find some newlywed couple and just give them the items. I can live vicariously through them and their burgeoning family.
It’s taken about a week, but every item has gone to a good home. I’ve still managed to hold onto several gadgets: my mini-Cuisinart, a bullet blender for smoothies, my immersion blender for soups, a Mr. Coffee and a two-serve size George Foreman grill.
How do I feel now? I feel free. I feel like I’ve been given a fresh start—a clean plate. I love my life just as it is. And if I ever meet someone, I’ll make sure we can afford a private chef. Bon appétit!