Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Pan Creations By Serge

I need to talk to you about my husband. The situation has become dire. I've talked to him about it a couple times and I just don't think he's registering the severity of the situation. I mean, marriages have ended over smaller stuff.

Sure he gets up with the kid early in the morning so I can sleep in after getting home late from work. That's nice. And yeah, okay, sure he makes his famous spaghetti and clam sauce and garlic bread every Sunday night and then... AND THEN he even watches The Real Housewives of Atlanta with me while we eat our spaghetti and we talk about how much we like NeNe and how Phaedra is, like, totally a waste of air.

But I need to talk to you about this mental illness I've discovered embedded deep within Serge that apparently all the Zolofts in the world can't fix.

Here it is:

Do you see? Do you see what I'm talking about? This is our stove. It always looks like this. Like Paula Deen is about to sweep into our kitchen and whip up one of her home cooked meals. Except Paula would never use an electric stove from 1985.

The skillets and the grill pan are there constantly. Standing guard over the stove, ready for anything. You know, in case the notion to cook up a storm strikes you and then BAM! There the pans are for you. I noticed with alarm that the handles of both skillets always salute ten o'clock and finally said something.

"What's this shit about?" I asked Serge.

"What? It looks nice."

"It looks messy. Like we don't put away our pans."

"No." He said with annoying assurance. "It's way better than the bare stove."

"The bare stove? That's what it looks like. It's a stove. And anyway, how do bare pans look nicer than the bare stove?"


"Are you experiencing some sort of cooking emergency you aren't telling me about? A situation where you need the pans at the ready IMMEDIATELY?"

He didn't reply and so I thought I'd sufficiently shamed him into putting away the pans. But that motherfucker, oh, he's a sneaky one, he let it go for a couple days but then the pans, the display skillets and the grill, began appearing back on the stove. One at a time until the full set was there, crouching on the stove, glaring at me, making me feel like the kitchen wasn't quite clean. You can mop that floor all you want, lady. But we're still here, cluttering up your stove.

"Dude. Seriously? A tea kettle I can understand, but this? I'm just not with you, man."

Still. He said nothing. He knows not to get into a word tangle with me or else I'll just keep taking it up a notch, like Emeril Lagasse, until it ends with me walloping him upside the head, cartoon-style, with that there skillet.

This morning I woke up and observed a new design. A new Serge Pan Creation.


That's it, I thought. I am prepared to publicly question his sanity. So I snapped a second photo of the evidence. As an aside, check out the times on the two photos. I can't remember if I took the first one in the morning or night but look at that! 8:17. If you go to my Flickr page you can see I took that first one waaaay back in October when I originally noticed his penchant for Pan Designery. Yes, the Pan Creations have been going on for a long time. It's only now that I'm stepping out of the shadows to seek support. But the time thing. Weird, right? What are the odds of 8:17 both times? And yes, my stove clock is working. Trippy, man.

Anyway, what's the deal with the pans? Are y'all displaying your pans? Do you have a dining room table set up with display plates? Are pans even on par with that bizarre phenomenon of "dressing" a dining table or is the pan display a whole new level of nutso? I also wouldn't mind hearing about all the weird shit your spouse does that makes you want to slice his/her Achilles tendon with a box cutter while they sleep.

Reader Comments (50)

If our pans are left out on the oven, it's because we're too lazy to put them away. Otherwise, nothing is left on the stove, not even a teapot.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

My dining room table is always set. And there is always a skillet and spoon rest on my stove. After reading this post, I'm fearing for my sanity, and I think my husband may secretly take pictures of it and talk about how weird I am. Which I suppose is a nice change from him talking to me about how weird I am. :)

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranon

My darling crazy husband is a grown 33 year man who believes that the stuffed animals in our home are alive - have feelings - can hear us - etc. As you know Monica we don't have any children so that makes the fact that we have upwards of 10 'stuffies' neatly arranged together on our master bedroom floor even more disturbing. When we come home from a trip he says hello to them, when I tell him we have to put them in a box in the storage closet he shushes me, tells me that they can hear me and that I have hurt their hearts....I think that I will take pans on the stove ;).

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle

If I left pans out on my stove, they would be buried in no time. Either that or covered in dust! Hmmmm, where are my pans anyway?

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOpus

That is seriously bizarre. A spoon rest? Perfectly acceptable. A tea kettle? Sure. An artistic arrangement of various cookware that you may or may not need next time you actually use the stove - bizarre. Does this mean that you have to go to the effort to put away the excess skillets if you happen to want to use a pot instead? Seriously. Bizarre.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I can deal with a teapot, but that's it. That shit needs to be put away. My husband leaves doors open. All doors. He seems to think there are spirits everywhere that need access to the house, garage, or whatever. The spirits in his world cannot pass through walls, they need an open door. Why he chooses to allow all these spirits in and out is beyond me. I just want him to shut the god damn door!!!

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRonna

Do you have a kitchen storage issue? Maybe Serge is hinting at a pot holder rack thingy where he can hang all the pots and pans for display (but don't give him one for Christmas!) Pot racks are the things that I just don't get though - talk about a dust collector - well, it would be in my house anyway!

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJust Jill

HE COOKS?! My mans can only use a microwave... so if he starts touching the pans we might have a problem.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

I live with a homo, who is much like Monica. But if you were raised in the country, and all you had were iron skillets, and you used them everyday, you never put them away! It looks more home-like if there are pans out, so if someone comes over they will know that you cook. I definately prefer the pans out to be displayed!
We also keep our pizza stone in the oven! If you are going to bake, you better check the oven and see what is in it first, could be pots and pans and a pizza stone!

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I have a pan on every stove pot they are sparkling clean I think it looks better.

maybe its a guy thing.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBryan J.

Monica, I love you, but sometimes you are an obnoxious bitch. <3

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrances

I put all my pans away, but that last picture made me giggle outloud. For that, it is now my humble opinion that he should get to keep it.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

We keep the tea kettle and the Turkish coffee pot and a spoon rest on the stove, but the pans are put away. Do you not have space to store them? I don't understand why he doesn't put them away.

On the other hand, my husband leaves closet doors and drawers and pantries open incessantly. He will also leave the refrigerator open if he's going back into it anytime in the next ten minutes or so. His sister does it too, so it must be hereditary. That will drive you crazy, let me tell you.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy B

They're clean. He cooks. You have no grounds to complain about this.

My pet peeve is that my husband won't put his dishes in the dishwasher, which means it takes several days for it to be filled and then there's a chance that the food will get dried on. But it's not that he leaves his dishes out, unclean. He washes them by hand and then puts them away (a habit from years of not having a dishwasher). I still get annoyed with him a few times a week for this habit, but then I do a facepalm and say to myself: "He cleans and puts away his own dishes. You have NOTHING to complain about."

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKajey

Hey Monica. I totally think this is a "pick and choose your battles" situation. Is it really hurting anything to have the pans out on the stove? If your man likes them out and you're not going to die if they're on the stove, I say let it be. Totally not worth the argument. He's even turned the handles to 10 o'clock so Violet can't reach up and pull them down on her. If it's an embarassment thing with house guests, you could just compromise and ask him to put the pans away before they arrive. The pan creations made me laugh. You've married an artist and this whole thing just may be a way for him to subconciously maintain a piece of his past that he misses from time to time.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

My husband leaves all the pans stacked on the stove after washing them- not even on burners mind you, just stacked there, because he honestly doesn't know where they *go.* Nor would he know how to use one for anything other than heating one of those frozen meal-in-a-bag (it's been a very sad six months, this "pregnant wife who doesn't know what or when she wants to eat" thing) thingums.

His own kitchen. He doesn't know where to put a pan. Also, he couldn't make spaghetti with or without clam sauce if his life depended on it. At least Serge has *that* going for him!

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

I get it. The pots on the stove would make me bananas! My husband leaves a water glass by the kitchen sink. It annoys me beyond measure... but then again, I throw wet towels on the bed so we're even.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatyE

I have a big red le creuset dutch oven, a cool green tea kettle, and a spoon rest on my stove at all times. I like the way they all look. I like my kitchen to look like a place where I cook and make food, a comfortable place. So maybe you guys can find a few things that are both pretty and fulfill Serge's need to have a lived in look on the stove.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

An obnoxious bitch? That's a bit much Frances. I'm sure the pans annoy her but I think the post is fairly tongue in cheek. It's funny.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Put them in a cabinet each night. Or the oven. Or anywhere you choose. Think of it as your job. Not a big enough deal to argue over.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

That would seriously annoy me. Very, very weird, but the second photo was hysterical. I have a tiny kitchen, so pans always on the stove would feel like clutter to me. I don't get that at all.

My kitchen faucet has a regular stream option and a spray option. I use the spray option for washing produce, and use the regular stream for everything else. My husband uses the spray option for everything, and leaves that setting on, so when I turn it on to wash something, water sprays everywhere and I want to strangle him. It's a little thing, but it makes me enraged every single time.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkds

It is a cast iron thing. My Dad has tons of it and it was everywhere. So my Mom and he came to an agreement that he is allowed to leave 1 pc out on the stove but the rest must be put neatly into one of the ovens (the sove they have kicks serious ass - 5 gas burners and 2 ovens!)

But I draw the line a backware or non-stock. Only cast iron, or Le Creuset should be left out.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMrsKaff

hilarious! i have never seen such a thing. the "bare stove" hahaha

it's a very puritanical (or Islamic fundamentalist, or shit, MORMON) approach. He is protecting the stove's chastity.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterleyla

I think you should make artistic choices in say, the bathroom. And stack toilet paper on the "bare toilet", so they are there and people know you "use: your toilet. Make a pyramid one day, a square tower the next. Maybe a letter "M" for monica. It would be great!
funny stuff!

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

maybe he just wants it to look inviting? we leave our grill pan out all the time, as we use it pretty often. maybe putting the saucepans away could be your compromise?

i would just let it be and be happy he cooks. my husband doesn't know where anything in our kitchen goes, doesn't know how to cook and i would be thankful if he took any interest in anything other than loading the dishwasher, which i am extremely thankful for as it is.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

Well, that's...interesting...

Our stovetop is the smooth glass kind and my husband uses it as an extra (read: harder for me to clean) countertop, which is so not cool.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchristine

Serge definitely gets points for creativity in the arrangement. But I like surfaces, good clean uncluttered surfaces. My Husband always leaves out the 409 and hookah making paraphernalia (tobacco, foil, charcoal, etc.) in the exact counter space between the stove and fridge where I prep/cook all our meals. So before I can make anything I have to clean up and store the hookah shiz on top of the fridge and the 409 under the sink. I keep telling him that this holds back his dinner by at least 5 minutes!

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Oh, seriously...I'd have to start hiding them in strange places...


December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

My husband regularly leaves cupboard doors and drawers hanging open. In the kitchen AND the bathroom. And then when I said something to him about it, he got pissy. Worse, a few days ago he accused ME of leaving a cupboard door open in the bathroom after I made such a BIG DEAL about it. I couldn't prove I didn't. I'm pretty sure I just left it open after HE didn't close it, but that explanation didn't go over so well.


December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKeenie Beanie

My husband does this too. I used to be baffled, but now I just go with it.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren LouAnn

My fiance stuffs the bath towels INTO the towel rack in the bathroom after a shower. Doesn't fold them, or pull it through to hang over both sides of the bar, just stuffs the towel into the space between the wall and the towel rack. The towel will be damp and wrinkly in spots. It makes me CRAZY! Ahhhhhh!

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

that last line was chilling. CHILLING i tell ya!
Okay, so the pans...I was married to a man with a severe case of OCD and he insisted that certain (all) kitchen things lived in certain places and never should be stored elsewhere. I was building up quite a resentment and disdain for the man's crap rules.
One day I decided some item could use a change in venue, so I moved something to somewhere else. I waited for him to come in and pretended not to notice him as he goes through the usual routine. you know the drill, checking and ordering everything. Locks, knobs, drawers, items, and's like when a dog suddenly smells some other dog and the head goes up and the ears twitch and he's looking hard at me. Checking and looking and then searching, while looking at me..."What?"

I had prepared myself and was ready to take him on. all 230 lbs of crazed OCD madness. Monica, we went the whole nine whatever rounds and I was throwing things at the wall, making ditches and slammin doors and being called crazy because, yes, 'THIS DOESN'T GO HERE!" In the end, the item which was lost was found and back home safe and sound in it's designated place and I was at the end of the hall in the other room crying.

At least thank God, your Serge has a sense of humor and good explanation and love of the cookware. We all have our preferred ways of doing things. Sometimes we just have to learn to appreciate the differences and see them as giftings. My current bf is pretty firm about how he likes things to be.I guess it's just the way we are raised to put things the way we do but for whatever reason, prolly to avoid wasting a good man, I adopted this idea: as long as no one is getting screamed at I can adjust. Your posting is a great outlet. Pan Art is interesting and funny the way you presented it.
You guys crack me up. :)

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergina

Not only are the pans clean, but the stovetop looks pretty clean, too. I'd say count your blessings!

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeebe

No pans on the stove at our house, but my boyfriend puts the pillowcases on inside out. It doesn't make me crazy, it just profoundly mystifies me. When I asked him about it, he gave me a look suggesting I might be a bit slow and said "Pretty much the whole time I'm in close proximity to my pillow my eyes are CLOSED. And I'm pretty sure the rest of my face doesn't care that the pillowcase is inside out." No refuting that logic, I guess. Not that I would even know how to try.

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterR

I agree with a tea kettle display. maybe you could buy him one for Christmas, along with a fancy ceramic spoon holder... that'd be a nice compromise.

Speaking of pans... I found my husband behind the stove heating up some clippings off the Christmas tree. I asked "Ok firstly, thats a real nice pan your using.... and secondly... why are you cooking tree branches?!!" He said "It makes the house smell nice." I said "we have candles." he said "yea but, my dad and I use to do this when I was young." I said "but, thats a nice pan! Its going to ruin it!" And he said "its fine!" and I said "are you serious?" and he said "stop being bossy!"....

so thats how it goes. I have a giant silver pan on the stove with tree clippings frying... and I don't smell a thing.

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergibsondog

The odds are Patri - everytime Patri sees 8 and 17 together, it makes her happy. Mystery solved.

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill Smyth

YOU are fucking hilarious.

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteralicia

My husband keeps a specially folded paper towel next to his sink in the bathroom and wipes the faucet every time he uses the sink. He's nuts.
I'm more like you where everything must be in cupboards or I feel like the kitchen looks cluttered. I hide the toaster, coffee maker, pans, etc. People who come over must think we never cook or something. Eh, whatever.
I do, however, think it's cute that he turns the handles back so V doesn't get clobbered on the noggin with a "decorative" pan.

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn

my bf puts the toilet paper onto the holder the way I don't like it (under instead of over if that makes sense). I tried to ration with him: "look, I use it about 5x more often than you do, and sometimes in the middle of the night, in the dark! I really don't want to have to figure it out when I'm not really awake."
that has not convinced him. I think he's doing it on purpose to make me crazy.

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbf

Personally I think it sounds like a wee touch of creativity expressing in a domestic manner. I think it's kinda cute, though I'm not sure how I'd feel if it was my kitchen! ;)

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSvasti

All I know is I want spaghetti with clam sauce and garlic bread. Any chance of him posting a recipe?

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDi

Pan Art (as one of your commenters noted)! I love it-- It keeps things interesting, no?

December 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

At least you got pans. My husband hounded me for months that we needed new pots/pans. Finally I broke down and bought a new set. We had them for about a week when he boiled a pot to death... and then about a month later set a frying pan on fire. Ten years we had the old set with no incident. So now we are down to the mini frying pan or 2 giant pots. I refuse to replace them.

December 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

We have a teakettle we leave out, and I confess, one cast iron frying pan. Not sure why we decided that one was allowed to live on the stove. It's kinda heavy and maybe we're too lazy to put it away?

December 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

my wife sided with you. I sided with Serge. Something about the pans ready to go looks manly

December 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRC

Pan art. That's good, i really like the last one, the pan pyramid. Maybe you should make some nice little tags like they have in art galleries and give them names?

"Cast Iron Man" 2010. Griddle, frying pan and heating elements held together with grease and bacon fat.
Artist: The Surge

Seriously though, I'm the OCD one in the family. Visually I understand the need to cover the heating elements a little bit, but the whole little things people do that drive you crazy part- I get it. Sometimes the weirdest stuff bugs you. Case in point below.

My husband loves to cook but I always do the dishes because he will leave them for weeks until it drives me batshit. His "promises" to do the dishes entail knowing I cannot wait 6 days with leaning tower of pizza cluttering my tiny kitchen. Mind you, this is a man who puts EVERY SINGLE ITEM that goes in a recipe into a tiny nesting bowl and then stacks them up in the sink half rinsed until there is a Jenga game towering in and out of the sink, counters and stove. This is a man who uses both Kitchenaid mixer bowls in the same recipe, mix in one bowl then TRANSFERS the mixture to the other clean one, only to mix in the next item. Whenever he cooks for the two of us, it usually takes 2 FULL dishwasher loads to clean up. I die a little inside whenever he makes dessert.

So I kinda feel you. Sometimes i think they do it to drive you mental. Or maybe they are just totally oblivious. Probably the latter.

Maybe I'm sensitive or just a pregnant bitch.
Definitely the latter.

December 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFunkyAmazon

Holy shit. HOLY SHIT. My husband does this same thing, and then I put it in the under-the-stove drawer and he flips. It annoys me to no end to see the damn frying pan there all day, every day. It doesn't help that the fucker is the largest frying pan you ever did see. We have also had words over this, with me passive-aggressively packing away the pan and him putting it back, even though he's not planning to use it right away.

Drives me insane.

I've tried to let it go, but forfuckssake it's THERE ALL THE TIME.

The worst part is that they don't sell lids with pans, so we don't have one big enough for that particular pan. That won't stop him, no sir. He found a much smaller lid he keeps in the pan, and it's clearly a mismatched set, but I am verboten from putting that away as well.

On another Kitchen Nuisance note, we have a scrub brush we use to pre-wash dishes before they go in the dishwasher, and he throws it in the sink UNDER dirty dishes when he uses it. The result is that every time I need to scrub a dish, I have to dig in the pile of dirties to find the brush. I ask him to leave it on the edge of the sink, and he looks pointedly at the pan living on the stovetop and smiles an evil smile.

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I would die if my husband did that. I couldn't stand to have them sitting out there like that all the time. No way. Plus, we have a dog and 2 cats, so they would probably be filled with fur after one day.

My husband apparently has an inherent inability to place dirty dishes IN the sink. What does he do with them? He sets them on the counter NEXT to the sink. The sink will be completely empty and he'll have the entire counter lined with dirty dishes. SO ANNOYING! I think I finally figured out why he does it though. At his parents house you put your dirty dishes next to the sink so that his mommy can then hand wash them in the sink. They're those people that store crap in their dishwasher rather than actually use it for it's intended purpose.

December 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElle

My husband leaves pans out on the stove, too! He's not nearly as OCD about as Serge, though - he just puts them there when they are clean and the dishrack is full. You know, because the cabinets are so inconveniently placed ALL OVER THE KITCHEN.

December 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Sadly all our burners are covered in pans, too. In my defense, though, there's NO WHERE ELSE in the kitchen to put them. Seriously. No other cabinet space for my everyday pans. Sigh. My kitchen would look WAY cleaner without a stock pot, cast iron skillet, teakettle and fry pan occupying my burners permanently.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMar

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