I don’t remember when it started. It’s just one of those quirks, like people who only wear red socks or eat shrimp on Tuesday. I check expiration dates on everything, all the time. What might be a quick trip to the grocery store for some takes twice as long for me, because I must inspect the death dates on every item that even thinks about entering my cart. This includes toothpaste and vitamins. Yes, I’m one of those insufferable souls who flips through stacks of bottles, bags, and boxes to reach the delightfully infant-fresh items in the back. I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. And why on earth don’t boxed mushrooms have expiration dates? That is not okay.
Now that it’s the first day of a new decade, I’ll kick into hyper-scan mode for weeks, maybe months. This translates to more checking than normal (what a silly word).
While I have been assured by multiple family members that expiration dates on dried goods like tea and spices “don’t really matter” and that “manufacturers arbitrarily select dates to force yearly purchases,” I hold steadfast to my shelf life mania. I’ve also been told that pharmaceutical items aren’t harmful after they expire and may just lose a little efficacy. I’m skeptical on all accounts, and would rather have a headache the size of Cairo than swallow tablets formed when Reagan lived in the White House. Oh, and those elusive “best before” items are a farce and should be discarded like hazardous waste material before their ominous dates. Now if you’ll excuse me I have some cupboards to scour.