How to open a plastic container of butter

When I came home from my one-day work week on Tuesday, my flatmate Dean looked like Kansas after the twister.

He moaned as we passed in the hall, and had nothing to say, but twice I heard him puking in the john.

Which was great. If there must be Dean in this world, make it Dean with nothing to say. I hadn't known that was an option.

He looked worse on Wednesday morning — still moaning, still miserable, still wordless. He was dressed, though, and on his way to work.

Dean's an assistant chef at a fancy hotel downtown, where every person who ate breakfast lunch or dinner on Wednesday now has whatever illness he was sharing.

Me, I took two extra multi-vitamins and hoped for the best.

♦ ♦ ♦

Today's a lovely autumn out the window, and without the hassles of employment I should do something creative. Instead I'm surfing the internet, laughing at cat videos, and listening to Dean and Robert talking in the kitchen.

Dean must be feeling better, as he's again the blabbering bore he usually is. He's 90% of the conversation I've been overhearing, since 7AM. It's now a few minutes before noon, so for five hours they've been talking about baseball, football, and unsalted butter

Being a committed introvert and hermit, I am mystified whenever people seem to enjoy social interactions. For an entire morning and into the afternoon, those two have talked about nothing that matters, and they've not only not run out of words, but seem to be having a grand time.

How do the humans do it? I'll never know. 

♦ ♦ ♦

Later, I was in the kitchen microwaving a healthy snack, when because I wouldn't want him to, Dean stepped out of his room and into the kitchen and started talking at me.

I had a tub of butter in my hand, having just scooped a spoonful onto the vegetables now spinning in the microwave, and Dean asked why the lid to my butter has knife-holes through it.

Dean always wants to talk, and sometimes I stonewall him entirely, say nothing and step into my room. More often, I offer a few syllables between his long monologues. Once in a while, though, decorum demands I converse with him, and it had been a while since the last once.

And anyway, I was stuck in the kitchen until the microwave dinged. Three minutes, 45 seconds...

So I answered his question, about why my butter has knife-holes through the lid. "It's defective," I said. "It wouldn't open, so I stabbed it open." Ten words.

For you, dear reader, I'll explain at more length: It's an ordinary plastic tub of butter, and you're supposed to pull the plastic tab at the side, which unwraps and releases the plastic lid. Well, the plastic tab had snapped off, so after struggling with it for too long, I'd stabbed it with a knife and pried the lid off.

When I said my ten words, though, Dean visibly brightened and became the chef — the guy who knows everything about anything in the kitchen, including butter.

He explained that he opens plastic containers like this one, only much larger, all the time. What you have to do, see, is pull the plastic tab at the side, which unwraps and releases the plastic lid.

I almost but didn't say, Are there Americans who don't know how to open a plastic container of butter? 

Instead I said nothing, and Dean reached for my butter, and began demonstrating how to pull the plastic tab at the side.

There wasn't much tab to pull because, like I said, it had snapped off. Dean was able to get a bit of it between his fingers and pull, but the plastic simply snapped off again.

With only a minute until the microwave dinged, Dean tried and tried to grasp at the tiny bit of a tab that remained. When he was able to briefly grip it, he tried and tried to pull at it, and you'll never guess this but, a little bit more of the tab snapped.

The lid I'd pried off remained over the butter, so he wasn't actually pawing at something I'd be eating, only at the container full of something I'd be eating. It was kinda icky to watch, but again I didn't say anything.

Call it cowardice or an overdose of good manners, but I prefer avoiding arguments with someone I see every day. If you're the kind of guy who twists and tugs and pulls at someone else's butter without an invitation, saying "Don't" is probably futile. If it grosses me out too much, I'll buy another butter for $3.29, and it'll probably open when I pull the plastic tab.

The microwave dinged at last, and I didn't even say, "Put the butter in the fridge when you're finished futzing with it." I simply took my bowl of hot veggies and stepped behind the door, into the sanity and solitude of my room.



  1. at some point you have to man up and punch that dean or at least yell at him

  2. I've made it to my 60s without manning up even once. I can make it to the end.

    1. I aspire to your low level of wimpiness. Strange coincidence, but I just wrote a "butter" piece myself, two days ago, called "The Butterfart Effect." And I don't even EAT the stuff! Spread the word! Or maybe melt it in the microwave.

    2. I an such a sucker for good fart jokes, and that whole piece is one moist rippler after another. :)


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