By Mark Magnan
Have you noticed that almost everything you buy these days has an expiration date on it. I am sure that even potting soil has such a date. Now granted some things need a date, in case they go bad. Other things, not so much, milk for example is one that you know is either good or bad. You don’t need a date to tell you that your sweet milk now is sour and has chunks of semi-hard dairy something-or-other in it. Fruit is another, leave an apple out for a few days too long, it gets all shriveled up and there is a cloud of fruit flies hovering over the apple that resembles a cumulonimbus. Bananas have a built in date code, they are bright green in the store, when you get home and put them on the counter they are yellow. The next morning when you go to slice one up for your cereal, they are black and squishy. I have often wondered what a real fresh banana off of a tree would taste like.
Now most prescription drugs come with a date to toss them, but don’t flush them down the toilet. I would assume you would take the drugs as the doctor ordered them to be taken and not retained to self prescribe them again next year. Do aspirin expire? I am not for sure. I do remember when I was young that regular everyday aspirin could be purchased in most gas stations or roadside restaurants in small metal containers for travel. Depending on how many rowdy kids were in the car on the trip, would be the gauge for how many of these aspirin you might need. I was the only kid on most of our road trips, so my father probably only took two, then he tossed those in the glove box. A few years later he might need an aspirin or three and order me to dig out that little tin container again. Given the unknown time they spent in the original gas station, the months or years in the glove box of our hot car, I wonder if they had any medicinal value. It could be the placebo effect, because my father always seemed to feel relieved after taking those.
Speaking of medicines, there were certainly some that I wish had been discarded from the medicine cabinet at home when I was young. As a young kid I spent time outside, add to that mix a bicycle and a couple of friends, I was always scraping a knee or elbow, as were the other kids. We were told that we could get an infection and possibly lose a limb, so we needed to get our scrapes cleaned up. This meant using something like Bactine only with some acidic chemical that burned. However given the nature of our scrapes, most anything burned, including tap water. We didn’t get a blister on our thumb from playing a video game, we usually jumped a ramp on our bike, then hit the pavement sliding along and knocking the skin from a fairly good sized spot on an arm or leg. It hurt and you wanted to cry, but you didn’t because you weren’t a sissy, and besides the other kids didn’t cry either. I guess we were all too proud to let loose. The first aid treatment at the nearest house involved chemicals that may have been sitting idle for several years, then covered up with a Band Aid brand strip that was held on with industrial strength adhesive. A couple of days later, even after a bath or two, the bandage pulled yet another layer of skin off, all around your initial injury. By this time it was usually a dark red, semi hard covering, which meant we didn’t have the dreaded infection and probably saved the arm or leg, this time. I won’t even get into the topic of mercurochrome, no one really knew what it was, but every household had a bottle.
I need to draw this column to a close. My current jug of milk expires at midnight tonight and I want to go and see what happens. I have never seen milk expire, it may be exciting. If it is really thrilling then I will have a topic for next week’s column. Can someone with buttermilk check their fridge and see if that carton of buttermilk has an expiration date, and if so explain why? Check here next week for milk curdling stories, if not then perhaps whatever excitement I had cutting my grass this weekend.