2008.04.16 Midnight ramblings on a naked refrigerator

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

When was the last time you saw the frightening sight of a naked refrigerator? No magnetic word games. No photos. No wedding invitations. No naked David statues ready to be dressed.

Colleen has cleaned off the face of our refrigerator and it now appears enormous.

    —David Green, April 5, 2008, statelineobserver.com

Yes, our refrigerator loomed large after I removed all the magnets, photos, recipes, Mother’s Day cards, et cetera. I left it barren for about a week, but that was about as long as I could stand it.

Every time I worked in the kitchen, the hulking big hunk of white felt like a stranger in my midst. Preoccupied with whatever I’d been making, its presence scared me whenever I turned toward it. I was going to leave it devoid of the detritus of our lives, but I just couldn’t do it.

I started adding my favorite magnets one by one: first the pretty magnets, then the powerful magnets followed by the  advertisement magnets, then the magnets with sayings I try to live by, but never notice when my fridge is densely covered with so much stuff.

“March to a different drummer.” “Treasure each day.” “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.” “The challenge is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.” “If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.” 

That last one is a Zimbabwean proverb, which must have been coined before they heard me sing or saw me dance.

I cleared off the top of my fridge, too, and was amazed at the dust and debris—and the little beauties hiding out, such as the two pysanky eggs I made in a long ago era of crafting with my kids.

My mother must have kept a pretty clean refrigerator top because I can remember my father setting me on top of it, clapping his hands and catching me as I jumped into his outstretched arms. I didn’t especially like my father—he had a terrible mean streak when drunk, which was most of the time—but I didn’t let that get in the way of exciting activities such as jumping off the refrigerator or climbing up door jambs.

It’s hard to reconcile my aging body with my former “Monkey” self. That’s what my oldest sister used to call me; my high school friends called me “Gumby.” I’m just not as limber anymore, nor as strong. “Sluggy,“ or “Slothy” might be more accurate monikers. I never used to nap, but now I yearn for them, even though they sometimes leave me groggier than I was before I laid down.

After my nap episode this past Sunday, I told David the dream I had had just before dragging myself off the couch. He’s never interested in my dreams, but that doesn’t stop me from recounting them to him, in detail, nor him from constantly trying to change the subject.

I was going to take a nap for 45 minutes, but I couldn't get up and was pretty much a zonked out zombie queen. I had weird, weird dreams.

Cars were coming at me in the dark, with no headlights, I told David. I see them just before they hit me, except I am able to get out of the way, just narrowly, before they hit me.

It happened three times on my way to some happy place where Steve and Barry's (the clothing store) was skipping right through April and once you entered their city you were in May.

“Isn't the phone ringing?” David asked half-way through my dream talk. He has no patience for my dreams.

He’d rather hear tales from my fighting days, such as the legendary episode of the time I punched a girl because she kept trying to jump the line at the Laundromat in the Bronx, putting her clothes in the dryer before me, even though I was next.

I still get pretty burned up when someone tries to cut in front of me. At the grocery store, for example, I often let people go ahead of me when I have a full cart and they only have a few items. But when someone rudely cuts in front, ewwwwww, I just burn up. The injustice of it all!

And then I read this weekend a piece by Garrison Keillor in which he describes how a woman blatantly cuts in front of him at the boarding gate.

“A few years ago,” he wrote, “I would have felt like pulling her hair out by the roots and spitting on her shoes and saying a few words about the importance of civility, but I am over that now.”

He wrote about grace being “afoot in the world” and finding you and passing out its gifts of “faith, love, hope and a sense of humor.”

But that simple phrase, “I am over that now” is one that resonates with me, one I need to live by.

Maybe I could get it printed on a big magnet and have it prominently displayed on a naked refrigerator.

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