In the midst of what has been for me, as Queen Elizabeth said some years ago, an annus horribilis, I am trying to stay in the moment and appreciate the small things. Not so small but giving me little starbursts of pleasure every day for the last couple of weeks is our new refrigerator. Nothing fancy, it had to fit into a rather small space, but it does have a bottom freezer with a pullout drawer and its creamy, rust-free facade delights me in a silly way.
All the world is a digression cue: I’ve long had an idea about the state of affairs between the sexes that I call The Refrigerator Theory.
You know how, when you buy a major appliance, such as a refrigerator, washer/dryer or stove, you spend a lot of time on the process: Check Consumer Reports, cost-compare Costco and Sears, pay a hefty sum, fill out the warranty forms, deal with the hassle of getting rid of the old appliance and installing the new. Then you expect it to work for years and years and years without incident, without need of repair, without evidence of wear and tear, with (in short) the same unmarked smiling face as it presented on the very first day it was delivered?
That’s what men expect in women. The male makes the first phone call, plans and pays for the dates, puts off his accustomed guys’ nights, listens to her attentively, tries stuff he’s never tried before because she likes it, drops honeyed words in her ears. Eventually, she is won over. He buys the ring. He shows up when she says, wearing what she rented for him, recites the vows she masterminded, puts up with his new brother-in-law’s drunken toast at the party. And, finally, a few days later, she’s installed. And from there, he expects hassle-free performance for the foreseeable future and goes back to his bachelor habits. (“I told you I loved you. I married you, didn’t I?”).
That’s my theory — for most men, at least of my generation — and I’m sticking to it. But back to food-related matters. That new fridge.
Here was the not-fun part: Emptying the old refrigerator, digging out the freezer, stripping the door of ancient photographs and expired doctor’s appointment cards. Took me one whole evening and a frantic morning when the delivery crew came.
Broke a favorite casserole dish hurrying. Threw away uku-thousand dollars’ worth of dried-up, forgotten, I’ll-use-this-someday condiments. Consolidated a half-dozen duplicated (or triplicated) products. Got misty when I found, at the back of the freezer, the last fruitcake my mother ever made (she’s alive and with us, thank God, but gave up making fruitcakes when the ingredients got so pricey and I actually LIKE her fruitcake, just can’t bring myself to eat it). Discovered I had more than three pounds of different types of nuts (too bad you can’t sell your unwanted nuts; they’re worth almost as much as gold). Nearly danced Hava Nageela when the delivery man told me I didn’t have to clean the old fridge out. Watched it go without a backward glance.
Now I reflexively wipe down the new fridge several times a day, move things around for the most well-organized appearance, group products by use and ethnicity. Amuse myself. But pretty soon, I’ll turn into a man. I’ll stop paying attention and get annoyed when it shows a stain or a ding. Right now, I’ll just enjoy the honeymoon.