It began slowly. I realized that I no longer recognized the people on the cover of People Magazine. All the young actors on TV looked identical to me, making it difficult to determine which teenager belonged to which family: keeping up with the various plots became almost impossible as a result.
I used to do crossword puzzles, happily working them for fifty years. And then suddenly Will Shortz, crossword editor of the New York Times, began to slip in the names of rap singers who appeared long after Eminem. I haven’t a clue who these people are. I know that someone named R. Kelly did something purportedly awful but know nothing of his rap music.
Now if Shortz gave the clue, “Penguin song of 1956, I would be in heaven. Everyone knows “Earth Angel” is one of the greatest songs ever recorded.
I was aware that the world was passing me by—but it came to a crashing stop all because of a kitchen sponge. For six decades I have happily used a six-inch-long, one-inch thick kitchen sponge to mop up spills on my kitchen counters. When my last one indicated enough wear and tear, I took myself off to my local supermarket to buy a new sponge.
Now nothing is more aggravating than having to think about an item you have never given much thought to. Kitchen sponges are now reduced to a measly four inches or are covered with an unattractive black scrubby material that I do not want. I found myself in the ridiculous position of stopping shoppers to ask them how they clean up spills on their kitchen counters.
Apparently, the favorite mop-up tool is a rag scented with Clorox.
It’s enough to make this member of the Silent Generation revolt—and it’s the demise of my kitchen sponge that awakened this rebellion inside me. I mentioned this to my neighbor, a member of the same generation, and he, too, was totally flummoxed over the sudden disappearance of the six-inch kitchen sponge.
Of course, I turned to Amazon. I first ordered six-inch sponges that turned out to be car sponges. Did you know that car sponges don’t absorb liquids? They are meant, apparently, to slosh all the soapy water around before being hosed off. You will agree that these are not suitable for use in the kitchen where sponges are used to mop up, not slosh around, water.
The next sponges I found were the required six inches in length but were over two inches thick—very hard to squeeze dry. Oh Amazon, how could you fail me?
I used to think that I was pretty hip. I switched over to computers in the early 1990s, was one of the first to get a huge, clunky car phone when they weighed half a ton, and, of course, use e-mail regularly, although I realize that dates me as e-mail is now considered passé. I grudgingly text if I have to but my fingers do not punch out letters easily on my cell phone.
I’m so with-it that I have an Apple watch but even here, I, enthusiastic wearer that I am, flunked the test. The watch insisted it had a drop of water and wouldn’t function until I’d turned the crown. Readers, I searched and searched but couldn’t find the crown—and the watch doesn’t have that many parts.
Now a crown to me is an ornamental headdress, part of a manufactured tooth, or the top part of my head. It turns out in Apple’s lingo, a “crown” is the dial on the side of a watch. Turn the dial and the droplet disappears magically from the watch.
Obviously, when we made the leap into the 21st century, I left one foot trapped in the 20th century.
So, here’s my plea: Please World, stop spinning for five minutes so I can hop back on. And please sponge manufacturers, please make that six-inch kitchen sponge again.
Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn The Absentee Gardeners
Sponges pile up in Kit’s kitchen.
Absent from their gardens, Kit and Lise enjoy roaming our region exploring the intersection of horticulture and suburban living. More on Instagram @AbsenteeGardener or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.