It’s true. I am afraid of our fridge.
Some fears are normal and justified. They should be encouraged. In that category: fear of hot stoves, fear of hungry mountain lions, fear of Jane’s fridge.
Daisy calls our fridge “Condiment Hell” and refuses to open it for any reason.
I prefer to think of it as “The Condiment Museum”.
We all have our own reactions to the fridge. My family has erroneously assigned me the title of Fridge Master. This is a horrific mistake. I am responsible for filling it up, emptying it out, and keeping it clean. Even though they know I fear it, and would rather face a hungry bear.
Shaun opens it, stares, closes it, and says: “Who wants ice cream for dinner?”
Micah opens it, stares, leaves it open, and says, “How come we never have anything to EAT?!?”
Lee Lee opens it, sighs, drags over a chair, a trash bag, and starts checking dates on condiment bottles. “This expired in 2001. That’s just disgusting.” And, “Why do we have Smoked Oysters in a tin? We’re allergic to shell fish…are you TRYING to kill us?”
Momentarily forgetting she’s 16, I say, “Great Grandpa wanted Smoked Oysters with his, uh, box of grape juice.”
She rolls her eyes. “Did you forget I can read? I threw that out when he left” says Lee Lee.
I send a little prayer of thanks up to heaven, that Lee Lee despises alcohol.
“What’s this black mushy stuff?” She opens the baggie. We both retch. I snatch it and march to the outside trash can. Great Grandpa also enjoyed his canned anchovies. When he visited, three months ago.
I live for the days Lee-lee takes over.
If I could keep the fridge the way I like it, I would not be afraid. It would sparkle. We’d have water, bread, cheese, lettuce, and salsa. Who needs more than that?
“People who want to see their 18th birthday without contracting Rickets?”, says Micah.
I address the psychotherapist in my brain. She’s annoying, and kind of a Bliss Ninny, but occasionally has an insight I can work with. Plus, she’s free.
“Why do I hate the fridge?” I ask her.
“Because it’s disgusting”, she says.
The downside of free therapists: they don’t have to be helpful or polite.
“I know” I say, “that’s why I’m asking YOU for help.”
“Well. You could try cleaning it”, she says.
I open my mouth.
“Frequently”, she adds, “like once a day.”
“Let’s backtrack”, I say, “and start with…Oh I DON’T KNOW… Reality? I’m afraid of it NOW.
She opens her mouth.
“As in AFRAID to open it”, I add.
Stumped, we stare at each other.
Mentally, we both turn, and in unison shout to the hallway, “Want to earn ten bucks?”
There’s a groan from the general direction of Lee Lee’s bedroom. Then a long pause. I refuse to give up. I count, to keep myself from taking it back. Bad mommy.
From behind Micah’s closed bedroom door: “Puhleeezeeeee Lee Lee? Pleazzzzzze…?”
“Not the fridge, AGAIN…“, says Lee Lee.
None of us are breathing. We’re all counting on her good nature. For good measure, I snap a ten-dollar bill between my fingers, like cloth. I know she wants to go to the movies.
“Fifteen!”, yells Lee Lee. When I don’t answer: “Going once…”
“SOLD!”, I yell back, totally caving in. “I’ll even throw in the popcorn and soda.”
“On it”, says Lee Lee, opening her door.
Fifteen bucks to overcome one’s fear of the refrigerator?