Sunday, November 27, 2005

You've come a long way, baby

My refrigerator is on its last legs. I mean, it runs fine (although every once in a while it gets a little over zealous and freezes the shit out of everything), but it's just sort of falling apart. The door shelves are in the worst shape - usually when I open the door, the little "guardrail" holding everything on the shelf falls off on one side, and condiments go flying all over the kitchen floor (thank god for plastic bottles).

It happens again tonight - several times - while I'm making dinner. I look at the sagging door in despair, knowing that I can't possibly replace the fridge right now. Surely there's some way to jimmy this thing so it'll hold for another year. A chorus of "duct tape!" rings through my brain, ricocheting off various points in my skull until no other thought is able to exist. Duct tape it is, then. I start to laugh out loud as I hear the beginning of a joke: "You know you're a red neck when..."

Something is tugging, gently but persistently, at the back of my mind - low in the skull, just above the cerebellum. It's an old, dusty memory, and I can't quite get a hold of it. Then, rather suddenly, the fridge door of my mind opens and the memories spill out like so many plastic-bottled condiments. The giggles cut off abruptly as my life - as told by refrigerators - starts to flash before my eyes.

There was one with a door handle that had been split in half from a particularly angry slam. The split was duct taped back together.

There was one with a door that had a habit of swinging open in the middle of the night when there was no one around to shut it. It was therefore duct taped closed each evening. The handle was subsequently pulled off when someone forgot to remove the "shutting" duct tape, which led to the addition of "handle attaching" duct tape.

There was one of those old fashioned ones with no freezer, but an ice box inside. The icebox had duct tape all around the rim serving, I can only guess, as weatherstripping.

And of course, there were several with door shelf issues similar to what I'm currently experiencing, including one where the "guardrail" was removed entirely and replaced with - you guessed it - duct tape.

The slide show in my head finally comes to a close and I now fully comprehend why duct tape was the only solution I could think of when faced with a broken fridge. Oy.

I slowly take in my surroundings. I'm standing in my quickly appreciating house in a desirable neighborhood. I'm cooking dinner with ingredients not purchased with food stamps. I'm listening to a cd I bought on a whim. There's a pile of new clothes for my son in a bag on the counter. I myself am wearing a pair of designer jeans.

I realize just how far I am from my roots. I suppose the thought should make me happy, but instead it leaves me feeling lonely and foreign, surrounded by natives whose language I'm trying to learn from a tape I listen to on my way to work. Panic sets in: I'm not one of these people; I never will be.

I know what I have to do. I quickly run to the basement and hunt for my duct tape. Found, it's applied liberally to the fridge. I'm going overboard, but the silver glint comforts me. I stand back and admire my work.

Aaah... home sweet home.

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