Don’t Open That Door, McGee

There was an old radio show called “Fibber McGee and Molly,” and in that show was a running gag about an over-crammed hall closet. Just as Fibber McGee opened the closet door, his wife Molly would yell “Don’t open that door, McGee!” Of course, she always warned just a moment too late. McGee would open that door and everything would come tumbling out. I was way too young for the radio show. But it did run on TV for a while. The Dowager Duchess liked to often use the line in our house when I was a kid.


One of my few (very, very few) quirks is a need to have everything appear on the surface to be completely in order. Furniture polished. Stray items put away. Cushions straightened. Chairs aligned. It’s very telling and says quite a bit about my personality in general. Publicly, I smile. A lot. Even when I’m miserable. Privately some days, not so much. The living room and kitchen are usually in perfect order, just in case someone stops by unexpectedly. My bedroom, now that no one ever stops by there unexpectedly, is a little disordered, but never appallingly so and can be picked up in a matter of minutes. But, no matter how perfect it all appears to be on the surface, I have always had one drawer or closet that’s a complete disaster area.  I have to fight to get it open. I have to shove things back in as they fall out. Then I close the door again and no one knows the truth. Everything appears to be in order. No problems here. Or anywhere. As I said, very telling.

My sister was nothing like me when she was young. Well, yes, her closets and dresser drawers (all of them) were a complete disaster. But she had no qualms about letting people see her mess. Her bedroom floor was covered with clothes, pillows, bedspreads, books, magazines. You name it. She would simply kick a trail through the detritus. San Geraldo was, I’ve been told, the same way as a boy. Not much has changed.

Following behind San Geraldo in the kitchen (or anywhere else, to be honest) always reminds me of Molly McGee’s warning. Don’t open that door! No matter how under control he manages to be while preparing a meal the “S#@t” always hits the fan in the final few minutes. When dinner is served, he closes the door and leaves the mess behind. The mess doesn’t really bother him in the least; he’s just worried the cats will get into it. When the meal is over, I always know what’s going to hit me when I open that door. And yet, like Fibber McGee, I open it anyway. I then walk around the house, checking for stray cereal bowls, plates, and silverware. San Geraldo usually has a collection in his office. But I don’t mind at all. If it weren’t for San Geraldo, I’d be living on frozen pizza and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.



Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

34 thoughts on “Don’t Open That Door, McGee”

  1. So worth it indeed! That meal looks great.
    And isn't it interesting how different people are about orderliness. I have one brother who is perfect at maintaining order and another who is like me, genetically disorganized I fear. This has been so since we were very young.

    I do remember Fibber McGee and Molly, but radio disappeared about when I began first grade. Really vanished, it seemed.

    1. Kristi:
      My mother has "stuff" everywhere in her house, but she folds plastic grocery bags to within an inch of their lives, and her linens are folded so perfectly squared and flat that you have to unfold them to find the fitted sheets.

      I had wanted to included at least the sound clip of Molly yelling but I could only find entire episodes! What a voice… and accent.

  2. Hello Mitch:
    Really, dear Mitch, be advised by us and get staff. Life is too short to have to enter a kitchen and discover all of that however wonderful the dinner [which we are certain it always is].

    We are on the point now of leaving for Venice and will be 'off air' for a week or so. We shall look forward to catching up on our return.

    1. Jane and Lance:
      Oh, I'm tempted to get staff. But we'd need live-in to keep up with Jerry's cooking. Besides, how would I earn my keep? I can't "sing" for my supper.

      Wishing you a safe and happy trip to Venice. Don't forget your hip waders. Hope the water level has dropped!

  3. I can remember the Fibber McGee and Molly show too. Your description of your place sounds a lot like mine. Although Sue and I both like to cook, I'm the one who cleans up, wipes off, puts away and hides the clutter. Hiding clutter goes way back to my childhood when my siblings and I took turns doing dishes. If a pot was particularly nasty, we would hide it in the oven for the next night's dish-washer to do. As you can imagine, this caused some knock-down, drag-out fights!

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      I rarely did a dish as a child. We had a dishwasher and the Dowager Duchess. (We were kind of spoiled.) When we lived in Vegas and San Geraldo wasn't working for a while, I left the dishes and the kitchen clean-up for him to do. Invariably, three days later I would give up on him and do it all myself.

  4. Radio was our main source of entertainment when I was a kid… and yes, I remember that closet. That meal looks delicious… I'm always willing to clean up after anyone who does the cooking… even a mess like the Saint left 😉

    1. Odd Essay:
      My mother always would talk about her memories of sitting and "watching" the radio.

      The meal was moan-fully delicious. And I, too, will clean up just about any mess if it means I get fed.

  5. Well, I'm the one who does the cooking AND the cleanup, but I can't go to bed with dirty dishes in the kitchen. I have plenty of clutter elsewhere, but can't take dirty dishes (or getting into a bed that wasn't straightened).
    Sorry to know that your cheery façade is sometimes hiding a troubled soul, 🙁

    1. Judeet:
      San Geraldo can go to bed with dirty dishes. I can't stand the thought of waking up to them.

      Once, when I was out with my father late in his life (so I was around 30), a neighbor commented that I always had such a warm and happy smile on my face. My father said it was just gas.

  6. I remember listening to Fibber McGee and Molly on my ride to work on Sunday mornings years ago, So funny when she said that line and you'd hear the sound effects of all that stuff tumbling out of the closet. Mrs. C. and i are fairly organized by wherever we live a messy drawer seems to find us.

  7. Looks like a great meal! I am very much like you in the tidiness respect. But I don't like to jump into somebody elses mess. If my husband cooks, he cleans it up. The kitchen always looks like an explosion after he cooks. If I cook, I clean as I go. That way there is little mess after dining and I can relax.
    We also have one kitchen "junk" drawer. My husband says it wouldn't be a bottom kitchen drawer without the difficulty in openeing and closing it. BUT…I just cleaned it out last week! We'll see how long it stays that way ; )

  8. LadyCat:
    I'm very neat and organized when I myself cook. (Then how much mess can one make with a microwave, a mug, and a teabag?) But really, when I have cooked something in the past, all the ingredients get lined up in order on the counter and get put away as I use them. I wipe the counter every time I spill, too. Most nights when San Geraldo gets done, I not only wash the dishes and counter, I also wash the refrigerator, the backsplash, the cabinets and the floor. But the man can cook!

    1. John:
      I love the tiles, too. The kitchen is small, but it's got great style (and storage).

      I don't know what a mucky pup is and I have a feeling it's not really something good. But I kind of like the sound of it. I'm a mucky pup!

    1. Frank:
      San Geraldo got the original recipe online I think. But, now that he knows what he's doing, he ad-libbed this last one. Truly amazing. Fortunately, I've gotten really efficient at clean-up. Jerry hates to do it. So we balance each other really well.

  9. It looks so worth it!
    And who doesn't have one of 'those' drawers or closets that is SO necessary!
    I am like San Geraldo in the kitchen, using everything in sight. Ron is much like you in Mitch, he almost never complains about the mess.

  10. Jerry's quite the gourmet cook.

    As you know, Todd does most of our cooking too. And although I do occasionally clean up, most times I leave things that don't fit in the dishwasher for the next night's load. I know it's lazy, but that's just the way it is.

    I remember the first time Todd cooked for me (in 1979), he made chicken cordon bleu…… it any wonder I've put on a bit of weight over the years?

  11. when we do 'serious' cooking we end up making a lot of mess. Someone finds this upsetting but I say you can't make good food without wrecking the kitchen.

  12. A fabulous meal requires so much effort and as long as the mess is kept behind closed doors then this special meal can have the appropriate attention paid to the efforts of the chef of the moment. As for messy cupboards that's for another time. Great post.

    1. kisatrle:
      That photo is not actually a good example of a kitchen after San Geraldo has been through it; that was one of the easier clean-ups. It usually looks like something exploded.

  13. I was brought up doing dishes…my brother wouldn't lift a finger to assist(in anything pretty much) so I learned to clean up after….anyone! I love the process and the actual procedure…Geraldo can dirty up everything and I would be there cleaning up after. The flamequin looks like it would melt in your mouth….you are so fortunate…I think you realize this!

    1. Ron:
      I had it pretty easy in the kitchen growing up. But in my late teens I had much older friends with their own places. I learned very quickly that if I wanted to get fed I needed to learn how to do dishes. It was a lesson well-learned.

  14. Oh my, that meal looks utterly delicious!!

    Gordon makes a big huge mess when he cooks, but it's worth it! And he cleans up after himself. 🙂

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