by Mary Whitsell
Christmas last year, the refrigerator decided to
take a vacation. Cant say I blame it.
Things got out
of hand when I went back to work in November.
Instead of discarding the last inch of juice or
milk, my husband and kids just put it back in the
fridge. New items were bought and only partially
consumed. Things soured, curdled and festered.
Soon people were holding their noses every time
the fridge door was opened, and its shelves were
full to bursting: I counted three bottles of
catsup, four jars each of preserved peppers and
olives, five tubs of margarine and
Ive lost track of the mayonnaise, but
lets just say that if a football team
wanted a weeks worth of sandwiches,
wed have been good to go.
ideas about using up what weve got
dont work in this household. New stuff is
routinely purchased before the old is finished.
Understandably more popular than the old, it is
quickly opened and dipped into. New stuff quickly
becomes sort-of-new stuff, and soon we have old,
sort-of-old, and sort-of-new-but-dipped-into
stuff and you stand a better chance of
finding Penicillin than you do of finding jam
without bread crumbs in it.
When I stayed
at home, I always used up leftovers. I grated the
last desiccated hunk of cheese into a casserole.
Put the three-day-old leftover mashed potatoes
into the bread dough. Recycled the dubious
ratatouille into a pasta sauce. They say the only
things you dont want to see being made are
laws and sausages, but you should have watched me
fix dinner when the refrigerator needing cleaning.
Christmas, I realized that the stuff inside
the fridge was warmer than the stuff outside.
All the milk had turned to yoghurt. Juice cartons
were obviously swollen, and everything stank to
high heaven. In the freezer, melted chocolate ice
cream (one of seven tubs, all approximately 1/8th
full) mixed with defrosted mackerel juices.
Pumpkin puree bled into thawed peas.
I felt like
weeping, throwing out all my carefully labelled
soups, casseroles, and home-grown fruit and
vegetables. Months earlier Id filled all
those containers in a fit of energetic optimism,
picturing myself home from work in my smart, new
business clothes, ready to cook the items
Id thoughtfully managed to defrost that
morning. Its the story of my life: I try to
make things easier on myself and all I end up
doing is stockpiling one hell of a mess.
refrigerators frost-free soul is basking in
tropical warmth, sipping pina coladas, laughing
at the thought of all those festering jam jars
and almost-empty milk cartons it no longer has to
tempted to go join it.