Just a thought

A warning: this post has the potential to start out sounding kind of grandiose, like I’ve got a Big Point to make and I’m Going Somewhere; don’t be fooled, this is just an anecdote that is a bit too complicated for Twitter or Mastodon. Calibrate your expectations accordingly.

My wife does the grocery shopping every week, on Saturday or Sunday morning. This started out as a Covid thing where it made more sense for just one of us to be out in the world being exposed to people and has more or less solidified into What We Do Around Here since then. While she’s gone, I clean up the kitchen and get the dishes washed. This involves emptying and refilling the dishwasher, which means I’m putting glasses and cups back into the cabinets.

How many of you put your glasses upside down in the cabinets? Is this something everyone does? An Indiana thing? I have no idea, because it’s not like I’ve paid attention in other people’s houses, and when I *am* in someone else’s house and getting a cup out of a cabinet, it’s likely that it’s someone related to me, so they have the same practices. I have no idea if this is “normal” or not.

Anyway, as I was putting a glass into the cabinet this morning, it floated through my head that the reason I have always done it this way is that it keeps bugs out of the glasses. That’s why you put them upside down. It’s so bugs can’t get in. That’s the reason.

And that thought kind of stopped me short for a minute. Like I literally froze, glass in hand, thinking about that belief that I’ve harbored, unexamined, for my whole Goddamn life.

Because you know what I’ve never had a problem with, not one time, in my entire life, from growing up in my parents’ house, to a couple of college dorms, to various apartments and now the whole-ass house I’ve lived in for the last twelve years? Bugs in cabinets. And one of those apartments had an ant problem for a while. I have probably at some point or another found a stinkbug in a cabinet. One. Because during stinkbug season those fuckers get everywhere. But that’s it. And this belief, that you keep glasses upside-down in the cabinet because that’s how you keep bugs out of them, has been hard-coded into me for my whole damn life.

Which got me wondering how many generations back you have to go, to find the ancestor who had cabinets and had a bug problem, one bad enough that decades later that person’s descendants are still automatically following this rule they– well, she, let’s be real– created. I know it came through my mother because when I was a kid mothers did all the housework, but my grandfather on Mom’s side had a lifelong, solid, post-WWII Silent Generation union job in a factory and if they were ever poor enough that keeping the bugs out was an issue I have never heard about it. So we’re talking probably at least three generations back.

It really makes me wonder what other things I do without thinking about it that can be traced back to, like, the Depression or something like that.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

10 thoughts on “Just a thought

  1. cough I wouldn’t know anything about this…says the person who has a drawer full of used “just-in-case” twist ties from bread bags. LOL! It’s so hard for me to throw ANYTHING away that might have a future use. (I have broken with tradition, though, and I’m probably the first person in my family to store my glasses and cups right side up in the cabinet! Woot!)


  2. Right side up.

    I had a friend visiting who was helping me unload the dishwasher. She told me I was doing it wrong, and proceeded to turn all my cups and glasses upside down, disclaiming, “You’ve obviously never had a problem with bugs!” I just let her feel good about “correcting” the situation, and redid them after she left. Not a hill I was going to fight over, but I did think to myself, “Well no, I’ve never had that problem, so why would I do it that way?”

    But you’re right about it being “Just the way we’ve always done it.” I’m sure you’ve heard the anecdote about the man who sees his wife cut off both ends of the ham before she put it in the pan, and asked her why she did that. “That’s the way I learned from my mom.” Still curious, the next time they visit the mother, he askes HER about it. Same reply, “That’s the way my mom always cooked it.” So, the next time they visit Grandma, he asks HER. Grandma’s reply? “I only had one pan, and that’s the only way I could make it fit in the pan.”

    A lot of the time, it’s just that’s the way we learned how to do it. Regardless of the actual reason that it was originally done that way.

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  3. It’s funny – I’ve never done it that way because of bugs. For me, it’s because of dust – I have SO many glasses, it’s just me here and I use the same ones over and over. So if I have guests and need extra glasses, I don’t want there to be any dust settled inside the bottom of the glass. But now I’ll be thinking about bugs too! haha

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        1. Neither are we 😂 We just have a bunch of draft glasses from various places because my husband won’t let them go, and they only get used when other people come over lol

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  4. I lived in one duplex that had a bug problem. Like big bugs. Water bugs, palmetto bugs, giant ass cockroaches, whatever you call them. I had to open a certain cabinet door standing behind it so the bug that launched from the inside of it wouldn’t land on me. I turned my glasses upside down while I lived there. Next place I lived, glasses were turned right side up and I still do.

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