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.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Foot cancer!

Really? I can hear you saying. We wait 37 years for a blog update from you (the voices in my head tend to be both filled with devotion and prone to hyperbole) and you drop THIS bombshell on us?

Well, “foot cancer” is technically an exaggeration. But! Among the billions (hyperbole motif!) of moles I have on my body, my dermatologist found a few spots that concerned her enough during my April mole patrol that she had me come in again yesterday for a three-month follow-up. And one already grotesque, misshapen mole on my foot has doubled in size since then. (Asymmetry? Check. Border? Check. Color? Check. Diameter? Check. Evolution? Check.) All the letters of the moles-can-kill-you alphabet point to something bad. Like Glenn Beck in a hot tub. But it’s fixable. Like Mel Gibson in an oven. So it has to come off.

She wanted to hack it out of me right away yesterday, but since it’s on the outside of my pinky toe joint—an area that gets so much stress that sutures there tend to rip open just from everyday locomotion—she said I couldn’t run on it for at least two weeks. And since I’ll be on a sandy beach vacation in five days and I’m running a half marathon in 17 days, she gave me special dispensation to hold off until the day after the half marathon to get my foot hacked apart. And since she caught the big scary toe mole early enough, she’s fairly certain that the hacking will be the end of the entire adventure.

Not so much, though.

My always-casual-Friday company just issued an email stating that women can dress in clothes that expose their arms and shoulders and feet but men can’t. But my dermatologist says I need to avoid confining my hacking wound in shoes until it heals strongly enough to not rip open. So I’ll need to wear flip-flops for at least the first few days after the hacking. And probably tank tops, but only to create a coherent ensemble. So there may be repercussions. Even if I promise to keep my toe hair in check.

You don’t need to send me any get-well cards. But if you decide to shop for one, there’s a fine selection at Walgreens. Some of the cards even play music. As in actual clips from actual recorded songs and not just cheesy computer renditions of “La Cucaracha” or “Happy Birthday.” I know this because I stopped into my friendly neighborhood Walgreens for a card on a recent weekend night (because I’m an on-my-way-to-the-party card shopper and DO NOT JUDGE) and I found two girls checking out these song cards … and dancing to them. From the systematic way they opened each card, danced to its song clip, compared thoughts and then repeated the process with the next card in the row, I got the feeling they were in the Walgreens card aisle that night more for its nightclub qualities than for its purveyor-of-prewritten-greetings qualities. They seemed young, so I can only assume they were working around legal barriers to approximate a complete nightclub experience, which of course includes dancing to a range of songs and … wait for it … getting carded.