15 November 2010

So, here’s the thing about making bold moves.  Moving to another country type moves.  It’s not the big, obvious things that get you and make you doubt what you are doing.  It’s the little things.  Like opening cans.

Here in England, we are renting a furnished house.  A well known fact about renting furnished houses:  despite the exorbitant amounts of money you might be spending to rent the house, the house will be “furnished” with all manner of “my great aunt died and willed me the contents of her house” type of stuff.  When renting a home in a foreign country, you often have no idea what half that stuff even IS.  There are approximately 5 gadgets in my kitchen, the purposes of which elude me entirely.  I did unearth what appeared to be a can opener about a month ago.  I decided to make spaghetti and meatballs for my family and - don’t tell anyone - I use canned tomatoes when I make my sauce.  So here is what happens.  I assemble my ingredients on the counter, and begin chopping and sauteing.  Then I go to open the cans of tomatoes.  First, let me say the can opener is manual, not electric.  It looks a little different from my American can opener, but whatever.  It has the sharp wheelie thing and the grooved wheelie thing and the turner thing.  But, for some reason I cannot figure how to attach it to the can.  The grooves and wheelies are not lining up and I’m turning it every which way and nothing is working.  This goes on for a while and I’m kind of panicking because John & Lynn are the in the South of France and we don’t know anyone else and I need my CANS OPEN!  I mean . . . stuff is sauteing!  So, I turn to my trusty advisor, Mr. Google.  This is what I actually typed into the Google bar: ‘how to use a British can opener’.  When I typed that I remember thinking, ‘I hope nobody ever finds out about this’.  Anyway, the Google gives me some options and there, on the screen, is a picture of a can opener just like mine with some instructions, but they really don’t make any sense and there are no illustrations and this is just not working.  At this point it becomes clear that I need an alternate dinner plan.  I am feeling like a complete idiot and can only half-heartedly throw myself into feeding my family chicken (sauteed in garlic and onions).  So, fast forward a few weeks and we have some friends over.  I decide I am going to discreetly ask one of the women, who is British, if she can show me how to use the can opener.  But, she is a very animated person and she thinks it is extremely amusing that I don’t know how to use a can opener.  Before I know it, I am being looked upon with pity and dismay by several advanced degree university students.  This is not going well for me.  So, animated-but-well-meaning British women goes and gets the can opener and begins to demonstrate how to use it.  To my utter horror she begins by pulling the handle (the handle that APPEARS to be a single plastic piece) APART.  Holy crap.  The handle slides apart into two pieces.  Which is what makes it attach to the can and, therefore, work.  Well, needless to say, the rest of the demonstration is pointless and my night, if not my life, is ruined.

So these past few weeks I have been confidently buying canned items.  I have been buying things that have no business being in a can (meat), just so I can have the smug satisfaction of opening cans.  Today, for my inaugural can opening I decide to make tuna fish salad (don’t judge, I like it and it’s good for you).  So, I get out my can opener and proceed to open the can of tuna.  Only, it’s not opening.  I have pulled the handle apart and attached it to the can and I am cranking away and it’s not working.  I decide maybe I have it backwards, so I re-adjust and start turning the wheelie and . . . nothing.  Okay, maybe it was right the first time.  No.  Perhaps I am not pressing hard enough.  Nothing.  Could be it’s not at the right angle.  Nope.  Oh my God this is not happening.  At this point, I am banging the can on the counter yelling about the fact that “it’s not my fault I grew up using an American can opener” and “doesn’t the can opener know I have been buying nothing but canned food items for weeks and my family is going to starve if I can’t figure this out!!” and I’m probably really freaking out my neighbors.  I end up sliding down the side of the cabinets, and I’m on the floor sobbing and re-evaluating every choice I have ever made because if I am not smarter than a can opener, clearly something, somewhere has gone very wrong.  Right?!  I mean, if I can’t figure this out, how am I going to get through all the days that are filled with NOTHING BUT figuring things out?  . . .  And that, my friends, is the truth about bold moves.  You have a thousand doubts.  They just don’t reveal themselves until you can’t get the can open.

11 comments:

Jenn said...

Beth, this is such a great story. I mean, of course, I'm sorry this had to happen to you, but woah, what a great story to share with dear ones for the rest of your life. I am 100% sure I would NEVER be able to figure this out either. I'm the one who has trouble with opening locks on doors. I also get panicky as soon as i know I'm going to have to open a strange lock and that ensures that I'll never get it. SERIOUSLY, what is the DEAL with that thing? Maybe only British people are born with the gene that allows this thing to work under their hands?! I would totally be sobbing on the floor too. Thanks for sharing your stories, Beth. We miss you!

amo said...

Oh Beth! What a great story, and what great writing! I laughed out loud several times and cried with you on the kitchen floor. Thanks for sharing.

john said...

when in doubt, ask yourself, "what would Bear Grylls do?".

Monkey NP said...

Oh my goodness! I am at work laughing out loud. This is a great story. I am looking at flights for spring to bring Lex over. If we make it over I promise I will bring you a real American can opener. By the way, you are smarter than the can opener. Hang in there!

Margaret said...

Beth - I'm sitting here at work, laughing out loud and almost crying! You have a gift for story-telling! Maybe a book is in your future? You could write one with all teh crazy, silly stuff that happens when you make bold moves! Keep us posted on your successful attempt with the can opener, as I am sure it will happen very, very soon.

Linda said...

I'm glad I work from home because your blog entries make me laugh until i cry and almost pee my pants. Seriously, my dear sister, you're killing me. Take comfort in knowing that I, too, am can opener challenged. Worse yet I have problems using can openers from right here in the good ol' USA. Perhaps it's a genetic problem... At any rate I will include a hassle-free, simple, easy-to-use can opener when I send the Christmas gifts. In the meantime, you will have to use fresh tomatoes for spaghetti & meatballs and fresh tuna for your tuna salad. And for the record, I use canned tomatoes all the time and what the heck is wrong with tuna salad??? Hugs & kisses.

susannah said...

Hmmm..I wonder what Jesus would have done. I think your brilliant Beth! XOXOXO

Carole said...

Beth, I'm laughing WITH you, because you have no idea how many of these moments I had with appliances and gadgets in my apartment in Reading, U.K......usually electrical appliances that look like they should be so easy but somehow weren't. And then there's the story of trying to take a shower in my tub for the first time. They say we're two similar countries separated by a language, but I say a lot of gadgets and appliances separate us too!!

Susan said...

Beth, am laughing at loud...stay calm, and remember that it's these little things that are going to pop up that was really the exciting part about "making a bold move"! Yesterday Pam needed intervention to use Joan's american can opener before she started throwing cans and can openers across the room. When I first started working in Europe I burned up 3 hair dryers, and blew the power out on my floor of a little hotel in France before I figured out that there is no "high speed" blow when you convert! Linda...get that Xmas box over there quick!

matt.ely said...

I've never used a British can opener, but I find myself relating to this on many levels. Thanks for posting.

(I may have resorted to a hammer or other tool that would produce a hole yet give me a bit of destructive satisfaction...)

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