I’ve written several times about my experiences staying at my boyfriend’s apartment, and as much as I love him, there are times when I wonder how on earth he manages to get by living away from his parents. This time, I’m here to discuss three common household items that he didn’t own — items that, until staying with him, I assumed all people considered fairly vital.
My boyfriend didn’t own a bathmat. Now, when you first step into the shower, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook a missing bathmat. When you leave the shower, however, and you take that first wet, dripping step, only to discover the cold, slippery ground, the lack of a bathmat becomes very apparent. Not only is it unpleasant to walk around on wet linoleum, it’s actually dangerous (there really is a reason why buildings have to mark spill with “wet floor” signs). And aside from the personal risk and unpleasantness, if your floor has seams anywhere on it, letting them fill with water each time you dry off is a great way for them to grow mold.
My boyfriend and his roommate had what they considered an elegant solution to their lack of a bathmat: they kept a hand-towel on the floor, with the theory that they could use it as a makeshift bathmat. Now, to be fair, maybe this idea would have worked out alright if they had actually made an effort to use it. However, in reality, they just ended up having a soggy, bunched up towel that lived, forgotten, in the corner of their bathroom.
Just buy a bathmat. Please.
A Baking Dish (or a baking sheet, or literally anything at all intended for oven use)
After grocery shopping with my boyfriend, I got back to his place, excited to treat myself to the package of cinnamon rolls that I had just splurged on. I read the instructions, got the oven preheating, and then asked my boyfriend where they keep their baking dish.
“We don’t have one.”
“Okay, it doesn’t have to be a dish. What about like, a cookie sheet or something?”
“We don’t have one.”
“…Then how do you use your oven?”
Eventually, he remembered that his roommate occasionally made use of the oven and he called him up.
“Oh, just use a dinner plate,” the roommate said. “I do it all the time.”
For anyone who doesn’t know, there is a reason why designated “oven-safe” items exist. Ovens get very, very hot. Many materials cannot survive time in the oven. If you’re lucky, the worst that will happen when using something not intended for the oven is that the meal you’re trying to cook will be ruined. If you’re unlucky, your dish will literally explode.
It turns out that his roommate had stumbled upon a dinner plate that just so happened to be oven safe, and he therefore thought that anything that wasn’t made of plastic was perfectly fine to use for baking.
For my boyfriend’s birthday, I bought him a baking dish.
It has always seemed to me that if you own a frying pan, a spatula is just a given. Like, seriously, how would you use a frying pan for anything without also having a spatula? Well, according to my boyfriend and his TWO previous roommates, all you really need is a large plastic ladle.
Seriously. All they owned in terms of cooking utensils was a ladle. This was their all-purpose tool. Need a spatula? Use the ladle. Need a carving knife? Eh, try the ladle. Need a can opener? Well, there’s a ladle…
Believe it or not, my boyfriend couldn’t understand why I insisted that the ladle was not an adequate substitution for a spatula. “What about when you want to fry an egg?” I asked. “You can totally do that with the big spoon!” (He also insisted that the utensil was not called a “ladle,” and referred to it only as “the big spoon”).
When we visited his parents over the holidays, and I casually mentioned to his mother that he didn’t own anything but a ladle, she was equally horrified, and immediately packed him several different spatulas. Of course, he insisted the entire time that this was unnecessary, since the “big spoon” worked just fine.