I am the victim of a Masonic conspiracy. Subtly, silently, slowly, they're taking over. From behind the scenes, they are controlling my life. When I try to warn my country and tell people what I know, they look at me as if I am mad (kind of the way you're looking at me right now). I see them everywhere--under my couch, behind the fridge, lurking in my kitchen cabinets--plotting their eventual domination of the world. I cannot stop what has begun; the world as we know it is doomed, and soon they'll be coming for you.
By "Mason", I am not referring to the old farts' drinking club, with their their ceremonial aprons and their bloodcurdling vows of secrecy; I am talking about jars. Mason jars. They have staged an invasion of my home and my life. Having established a beachhead in my kitchen, they now seem bent on insidiously spreading throughout my apartment. Once this is accomplished, who knows what they could do?
It began innocently and with the best of intentions, with a jar of spaghetti sauce. It was on sale, twenty cents cheaper than my usual brand. Okay, I thought, I'll give it a try. Little did I know that I was like Captain Kirk naively beaming that first fecund tribble onto the Enterprise, or like a crazy cat lady feeding that first poor dear iddle-widdle hungry kitty.
I am a fairly frugal man, and I try to reuse whatever I can. It saves me money, it saves me a trip to the recycling bin, and it could even save the planet. Empty pop bottles get converted into planters, while twist ties and bread bags populate my junk drawers against the day that I need bread stored. Old yogurt containers see new life as sprouting containers or third-world Tupperware. I'm the guy you see at the park drinking water out of a reused Gatorade bottle, because paying twelve bucks for a bottle that says "Eddie Bauer" on the side is just stupid.
When I used the sauce later that week, I noticed that it was packed in a square-shouldered jar. ATLAS, read the embossed side. Well, that will make my iced tea seem more authentic, said I to myself as I scrubbed off the label and washed the jar out. A few weeks later I used another jar, and realized that I might have guests over for iced tea, and wouldn't it be quaint to serve in matching Mason jars?
Of course, in order to make iced tea, one needs a gallon glass mayonnaise jar, and that, my friends, is where my troubles began.
Several jars later, I began to suspect that I might have a problem. It is well known that an addict, deprived of his substance of choice, will substitute another substance, and so it was with the jars. Suddenly, I was no longer limiting myself to Mason jars full of spaghetti sauce: every jar I bought was scrutinized for shape, size, durability, and uniqueness. Lids began to rattle around in my junk drawer. My overhead cabinet became a glass avalanche waiting to happen; my dish drainer displayed a range of jars in all shapes and sizes: tall skinny jars, short, squat widemouthed jars, faceted jars, baby food jars. Clearly, some positive action was called for.
I sorted out the jars, setting aside all of the matching spaghetti sauce and jam jars for tea and juice. This left me with a counter full of orphaned jars, boring jars, jars that did not make the cut.
I couldn't just throw them away, of course. I have always been the sort of guy who rooted for the underdog. To throw these jars away would be to ignore their true potential. I felt like the wise old Coach in one of those baseball movies: here I had the mangiest bunch of mutts ever to leave a jar factory, the dregs of the glass container world, but I knew that with a little gruff mentoring and a lot of patience, I could make winners out of these jars!
Furthermore, I had gone to all the trouble of washing, drying, and sorting them. I had an investment in these jars, and I wasn't going to just walk away from that. Some men will fight and die for a just cause, and some will sweat bullets over a project, and when things go terribly wrong, anyone will shit a brick, but I had found a new level of commitment: I had gotten pruney fingers for these jars. You don't just walk away from an obligation like that.
So I did the best I could by these poor little glass waifs. Some jars found new life storing food: dried peppers, rice, couscous and quinoa, even a couple of jars devoted to my top-secret and very experimental hot sauce. I ransacked my cabinets looking for anything that might benefit from being stored in a reused jar. Red and green chile powders now stand proudly side-by-side in matching jam jars on my stove; tiny baby food jars hold "just enough" fresh-picked dried rosemary and mint. I made instant pancake and corn muffin mix just to use up the flour and cornmeal in my pantry. Sugar sits by the coffee maker, sealed, safe and sound in a wide mouthed pickle jar. And still I had jars left over.
I don't know when they began to breed, but they must have: nothing else can explain the sudden dramatic proliferation of glass jars in my home. I began to take desperate measures: I actually put one or two jars with particularly stubborn labels in the recycling bin. I felt terrible about it: it was as though Father Flanagan had kicked a boy out of Boy's Town.
By this time, I knew that the situation was out of my control. Frantically, I searched for new ways to use up the jars, hoping to appease my new silicon-based masters. Now, small computer parts rattle obsoletely around in a quart mayonnaise jar; another jar is filled to the top with nuts and bolts left over from every project I have ever attempted. One small jar devoted to nothing but the cheap, stamped-out tools that come with assemble-at-home furniture (I have almost a dozen 6 millimeter Allen wrenches, which is odd, since I have never assembled any piece of furniture for myself, unless you count stacking milk crates on top of one another. I think they're breeding, too, but that's another story). My nails are neatly arranged, from sixteen-penny framing nails to the most delicate brass finish tacks. I began emptying my pockets of spare change, which I dutifully put in yet another set of jars (one for each denomination of coins).
I have jars full of pencils and postage stamps on my desk, jars full of plant food and rooting hormone for the garden, jars of leftover soup in the refrigerator. Votive candles in a pair of smoked caper jars provide a flickering ambience on my nightstand (smoked capers? I have never in my life even seen a smoked caper! Where in the hell did I get a pair of smoked caper jars?). But it was not until tonight, when I found myself carefully measuring the porch light to determine if one of these jars could be used to replace the missing porch light globe, that I realized that it is too late to stop the madness. It is obvious now that I serve the jars. They control my actions. I cannot go into he grocery store now without hearing a voice—a slightly alien voice—whispering, "How about some pickles? You like pickles. And salsa! Oh, and aren't you running low on spaghetti sauce? Hey, look, smoked capers!" Any day now, a Mason jar will inject me with its foul spawn like a wasp parasitizing a caterpillar; the little glass larvae will eventually consume me from the inside out.
And still the jars keep coming.
I give up; it is too late for me to stop the onslaught. What can one man do against a glass Hydra? Should I attempt to build a house of jars? My only choice in the matter is to give in and try to enjoy the inevitable. I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.
And as soon as I can find enough wide-mouthed gallon pickle jars, I'm going to host an iced tea party. You're invited. After all, I have plenty of matching glassware.