By Hannah Reich Berman

It would have been nice to have a score of two out of three. But I am disappointed. By my own admission, I am unable to claim even two, but only one out of three. What I refer to is the inevitable aging process. Everyone has heard the expression “She is aging so gracefully,” and each of us harbors the hope that one day someone will say that about her.

For obvious reasons (at least I believe they should be obvious) this sentiment pertains most often to women. We don’t tend to think of men as graceful–and we don’t even think so much about the aging of men! It’s almost as if we expect them to look old as they age. That’s why we call them boys when they are young and refer to them as men when they get older. But a woman is always a girl. She may be an older girl but she is still “one of the girls.”

We also want to age with a modicum of wisdom. How does one know if she is aging gracefully or with wisdom? Mirrors don’t lie, but since eyes age at the same rate as the rest of our bodies, we don’t see quite as well and we may miss a few wrinkles here and there as well as under-eye bags and gray hairs.

No one is ever going to tell another person that she is not aging gracefully. The same may be said for wisdom. By what yardstick does one measure how wise she has become? I have no idea if I’m aging gracefully or if I have become wise. All I know is that I am aging! But both the gracefulness and the newfound wisdom part of the process elude me. Hence I think of myself as good for only one out of three!

There is, however, something else that I know. I am aging expensively! There was a time when I shook my head in wonder and laughed at those women who took meal shortcuts. I mashed my own tuna because I would never consider going into a store and paying an outrageous price to bring home half a pound of the prepared stuff. I considered it wasteful. That has changed. I now buy ready-made tuna salad. Perhaps I would make egg salad, but any egg salad I might consume has morphed into something else. I rarely indulge myself by eating egg salad made with whole eggs. Instead, I opt for egg-white salad with spinach.

All that would be required of me would be to boil a few eggs and remove the yolks before chopping just the whites. The next step would be to defrost a bag of frozen spinach and add that to the mixture. I discovered, however–on that one occasion when I decided to do it–that frozen chopped spinach has to be squeezed to within an inch of its life in order to remove all the liquid that it holds. And let me assure you that there is nothing messier than squeezing spinach.

When I did it, the little green pieces of spinach went everywhere. They flew into the sink, landed on the kitchen counter, and a few pieces even found their way to the floor. That was it for me! My sole attempt at making egg-white-and-spinach salad was both my debut and my swan song, because I never again attempted to make it!

Now I buy just about everything prepared. At first I thought there was a good reason for my former attitude, when I looked askance at wastefulness. I decided that it was because, at the time, there were six of us living in this house. But, even after the kids moved out and it was just Hubby and me, I continued to be economical. I mashed my own tuna and made all of my own salads. But not now! And I know that if Hubby is watching, he for sure thinks I am nuts.

I once used a plastic knife to chop lettuce because I was told that a knife with a metal blade would rust the lettuce. It was probably just a lot of hogwash put out by the company clever enough to manufacture and market a sharp plastic knife. But I believed it, so I bought one. I also invested in a lettuce spinner–a large plastic apparatus that rids lettuce of water after it is washed and before it goes into the salad bowl.

In my house, the plastic knife, along with the lettuce spinner, is a relic. Perhaps I donated them to the Smithsonian Institution; I have no idea where they are. The knife could be in the back of some drawer and the spinner might be hiding in the rear of a cabinet. Who needs them? I no longer wash, chop, or tear my own lettuce. I should be ashamed to ever say that I “made” a salad. Beyond possibly slicing a cucumber or an occasional red pepper, I do absolutely nothing that constitutes making a salad. And sometimes I even skip those two vegetables altogether. My sole contribution is to open a bag of pre-washed and pre-shredded lettuce. Next I open a bag of shredded carrots and add a handful of those to the bowl. Slicing tomatoes is clearly out of the question. Why bother with that when grape tomatoes are available? And there you have it–no fuss, no muss!

Even the salad dressing is not my own. For that, I open a bottle. Come to think of it, all I do these days is open things. The most important instruments in my kitchen are a pair of scissors and the fingers I use to unscrew a cap on a bottle of salad dressing.

Apples, a favorite fruit of mine, taste positively delicious when added to Greek yogurt. And what could be tastier or healthier? I’m as big on texture as I am about taste, so when I have yogurt which is smooth and creamy, I enjoy a handful of chopped apple as opposed to berries because the latter can’t provide the crunch that a crispy apple does. However, the apple needs to be washed, cored, and diced, and I stopped doing that when I discovered that apple slices in a plastic bag are readily available.

So once again I open things. I open a container of yogurt and then a bag of sliced apples. True, the apples don’t come diced, so I have to cut those slices. But you may be sure that if some company comes up with the idea of selling diced apples, I will be their number-one customer. It won’t be long now before my knives, along with some of the other kitchen equipment, become rusty from lack of use. And speaking of rusty, my food-preparation skills aren’t getting much of a workout either. That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.

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