Columns Small Talk

Calgon, take me to the … kitchen?

As I perused the pages of the home and garden magazine, I spotted a story promising bathrooms and kitchens guaranteed to bring relaxation.

If I hadn’t been laughing so hard, I might have considered calling the Better Business Bureau. This was an obvious cause of fraud. Relaxing bathrooms? Sure, maybe, if you’re not the one cleaning them. You can get them now with saunas, multi-spray showers, whirlpools, mini-refrigerators and every luxury of sight and scent you can imagine.  Throw in a fluffy towel and a bathrobe and I’ll call it relaxing. There is no way, however, you could ever hear me use the words kitchen and relaxing in the same sentence. OK, maybe, “I’m relaxing now, so don’t even suggest that I go into the kitchen.”

The author raved at length about stainless steel appliances, big windows, endless cupboards and granite countertops. Can I lie down on the granite countertop and get a sea salt rub down? Can I pull up to the six-stool bar and get a mani-pedi? Can I climb into the spacious pantry and hide for a few hours with a good book? The only way they could guarantee relaxation for me in a kitchen is to equip it with a 24-hour, live-in chef who also did the grocery shopping and the dishes. 

I can stroll through my whole house and blithely ignore cat hair, dust, scattered newspapers, shoes, piles of underwear, junk mail, spiders and the vacuum cleaner. But the minute I hit the kitchen, I can feel my shoulders bunch up. Fifteen minutes ago, I washed the last dish and scrubbed the counter again. How then, can there be six greasy Tupperware containers, two caked skillets and a host of plates and glasses suddenly heaped there again?

Apparently, everyone else in my family has this relaxed-in-the-kitchen thing down cold. They are very relaxed about leaving behind dirty dishes, to wait for some foolish, unrelaxed person like me to stroll in.

I haven’t gotten an expert’s opinion on this bad attitude of mine, but I suspect it began when I pulled out my first batch of burned cookies. I suspect I have compounded it when I left the skillet to dry on the stove and melted the nearby timer, or perhaps the two or 12 times I have set off the smoke alarm. Tsk. Those things are so darned sensitive.

You know, now that I think about it, I vaguely recall one or two occasions when I was rather relaxed in the kitchen. I remember there was always a large bottle of white wine nearby, and it was someone else’s kitchen, but maybe that was just a coincidence.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer growing far too fond of her rubber gloves. Contact her at

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