Monday, July 19, 2010

The stench of evil

It’s always the most efficient to replace major appliances in groups so you deplete as much of your financial reserves as possible in the shortest amount of time. Which is why we scheduled our washer/dryer and our refrigerator/freezer appliance meltdowns within a couple months of each other last winter.

And everything was going fine with our shiny new appliances until about a month ago when we realized there was something dead or dying in our shiny new refrigerator. And it wasn't old-milk dead or Mel-Gibson's-career dead. It was stabbed-hooker dead. It was my-ass-after-a-marathon dead. It was Rush-Limbaugh's-fourth-wife's-wedding-night-yeast-infection-because-she-is-his-fourth-fucking-wife dead. And the stench was enough to curl the eyelashes off a buzzard on a shitwagon.

What's weird is we're not the kind of people who keep food in our refrigerator long enough to go bad. We shovel food down faster than Newt Gingrich processes divorce paperwork. And we replace it with trips to the grocery store every three or four days. Granted, we eat mostly preservative-free stuff like real fruit and organic cottage cheese, so our food isn't likely to stay fresh and lifelike as long as a box of Twinkies or a belief that gays are some kind of threat to heterosexual marriage.

In any case, we had no idea what was festering in our frost-free Freon fixture and assaulting our olfactory orifices every time we reached in to grab a Greek yogurt or a ... um ... Gripe peach.

So two weeks ago, the domestic partner took everything out of the fridge, sniffed it carefully for eau de morgue, found no evidence of rotten food or rotting corpses, wiped the refrigerator walls and shelves and all the packaging around all the food with bleach water, and put everything back in the hopes that whatever ghosts were haunting our fancy new refrigerator had been exorcised.

But not so much.

My parents visited us a week ago and the smell was just as bad as ever. My mom thought that maybe something (mouse? cat? Michele Bachmann's crazy eye?) had gotten into the space between the inside and outside refrigerator walls and had started to rot. We weren't sure what to do about that possibility, but their visit was all about being tourists (Grant Park Music Festival! Chicago History Museum! Navy Pier! Ravinia!) so we didn't pull the fridge apart looking for death while they were here.

Then this weekend we had a party celebrating the fact that I've lived in Chicago for 10 years. (Yay me!) And at our parties, our friends know they're welcome to poke around in our fridge for anything they may be hungry or thirsty for ... even if they don't realize they're going to get a noseful of death in the process. As with all my party planning, in the weeks leading up to the festivities I make mental notes about things I need to do (make sure we have enough paper plates, get fresh flowers for our fancy-ass vase, rid the refrigerator of Adolfo Pirelli's festering corpse before any relatives come poking around looking for him) and then four hours before the guests are due to arrive I realize there's no food or ice or liquor in the house and race to the store to get ready ... always forgetting to de-corpse the refrigerator in the process.

So this weekend as I was scrambling to dice vegetables for homemade lemon-feta pasta salad, scoop out avocados for homemade guacamole and slice peaches for homemade peach-raspberry cobbler (I'm really just writing this sentence to brag about all the yummy food I made) I barely noticed that the smell had disappeared somewhere between oh shit we have no food and add two tablespoons of olive oil. And by the time the door buzzed to herald the arrival the first guests I'd been so distracted that I'd pretty much forgotten we probably had a dead hooker trapped in the condenser. But when the first guest reached for the fridge to find mixers for his vodka drink, I leaned in to intercept him before he discovered our shameful secret ... and finally noticed that we no longer had a shameful secret.

I don't know if the street gang that stashed the body behind the condiments finally came back to claim it or if rotting field mice really do have a short half life, but the stench is miraculously gone, as though it had never been there. Like the pope's relevance. In any case, we can now entertain without suspicious guests calling in Seeley Booth (rats!) and we can enjoy fresh peaches without being forced to ponder the creepy fact that both peaches and rotting humans are covered in something called flesh.

And now when we have leftover shepherd's pie in the fridge, we never have to worry if it's peppered with actual shepherd on top.

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