Maculinity, Milk, and Marriage

The expiration date on a carton of milk is a test of masculinity.

I know that sounds ridiculous.

And I can’t help feeling that way.

Back in my bachelor days, milk never expired once it reached my fridge. Quite responsibly, I would eat three meals a day — including breakfast — and I tried to be conscientious of the four food groups, especially dairy. As a bachelor, breakfast was always cereal. My “lunch special” was cream of mushroom soup, plus whatever else was in the fridge. Supper was usually meat plus vegetables. Regardless of my mood, I could be relied upon to finish four liters of milk every week.

Now that I’m married, things have changed.

For one thing, my wife is lactose intolerant. So long cereal for breakfast and creamy soup for lunch. We still buy milk on an irregular basis, and sometimes I sneak in a mushroom soup meal while my wife’s not looking.

Unfortunately, the milk regularly stays in the fridge past the expiration date. And if there’s one thing my father taught me, it’s that milk is still good after it has “expired.”

Does it smell bad?

No?

Then you can ingest it without incurring penalties.

But eventually milk definitely does expire. It expires to a point that only Chuck Norris and his beard can bear it.

Here’s the problem with keeping milk in the fridge after it expires.

By the time milk has definitely, irrevocably, undeniably expired, I become about 99% more likely to pretend that the milk isn’t there.

Of course, the milk is still there. It’s getting worse. It’s solidifying. Chemical processes are underway.

At some point, someone will have to dispose of that sour milk so that the jug can be recycled. And my wife is lactose intolerant, so there’s no question about who’s going to be responsible for that disposal.

Be strong.

Sometimes I think marriage works in a similar way. When some aspect of the relationship starts to sour, I’ve found it’s sometimes not necessary to deal with those problems immediately. Sometimes, it’s OK (perhaps better) to wait an extra day for things to cool off.

But.

Sometimes those problems fester.

And they become more difficult to solve as more time passes.

Sooner or later, that sour milk has to be aired.

Perhaps that’s the true test that sour milk offers us.

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