||The Refrigerator Caper
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| Like many men living alone I am somewhat neglectful in the matter of housework. I have a hunch that the male mind tends more towards easy generalities and wanders away from the precise and intense disciplines required for dusting, cleaning, and general ordering that visibly proves women are far superior to men in maintaining good clean and decent living quarters.
Amongst the other routine procedures demanded in this matter is the regular defrosting and cleaning out of the refrigerator.
One of my interests is cooking and, although I am not a bad cook, I frequently surrender to my instincts of curiosity which fosters expeditions into novel and unexplored territory. I tend to analyze any recipe and break it down to elementary procedures and components that might be exchanged between recipes. Although various types of flours, oils, saturated fats, spices, and many of the other fundamentals required for assembly into an acceptable edible may seem interchangeable, the quantities of each may become a variable out of control with unsuspected results.
The total failures in these enterprises must, in one form or another be returned to nature without a useful passage through the human digestive system, sometimes to the delight of the local bird population, sometimes resulting in stomach gas and discomfort in local wild animals. Farting squirrels and sparrows can be a distressing sight, not to speak of the methane problems with global warming.
But the successes also have their difficulties. My enthusiasm for a good dish many times encourages me to overproduce to great excess. Eating the same thing for a week, no matter how good it tasted at first try, dulls the appreciation eventually and my reluctance to dispose of the excess means my refrigerator gradually fills with lots of little plastic boxes containing aging gustatory adventures.
Normally, in the interaction of my cooking enthusiasm and the limited space of my refrigerator storage, I am forced to do a cleanup on a relatively regular basis.
But I postpone this as long as I can. Recently I had a rather odd experience towards the end of one of these periods.
I prefer to go to sleep each night between ten and eleven pm and usually sleep deeply until two or three in the morning. I need a full eight hours sleep to feel well the next day but minor disturbances early in the morning can easily disrupt my sleep schedule. At this above-mentioned time my ear was to the pillow at two forty-five am when I heard a strange voice singing an extremely odd melody. Somehow a pillow amplifies faint noises and many times I have heard the compressor motor of my refrigerator at night through the pillow. Normally I merely turn on my back and the sound ceases. But this time the singing was still there when I turned my head. It was faint, but definitely still there. And it kept me annoyingly awake.
When a second voice joined the first I assumed that my next-door apartment neighbor was causing the sound but when I sat up in bed I realized it was originating in my kitchen.
I keep baseball bat in my bedroom closet, a souvenir of when I was a member of a local sports club. I quietly arose and silently grabbed the bat from the closet, prepared to whack any intruder or two who might have invaded my kitchen. And I prepared for conflict as I sneaked towards my kitchen in the dark. I wondered what type of maniac burglar would sing on the job.
I approached the kitchen door, my grip sweating on the bat, and rushed through with the bat at the ready and pumping adrenalin prepared for mayhem.
There was no one there.
The place was empty, silent, and totally undisturbed. I sat down at the kitchen table and wondered if I was suffering from a post sleep dream delusion. As I rubbed my forehead in consternation the singing began again. I recognized it was in Italian. And it came from the refrigerator.
Could there be a miniature Italian hiding in my refrigerator? Unlikely! I realized that somehow I must have left a small radio in there. I wondered how since I had no small radio.
Bat in hand, prepared for anything, I laid my hand on the refrigerator handle and was starting to open the door when a French accented voice joined the Italian one in sharp argument. I swung the door open and suddenly there was silence. No radio inside. But I had to make sure to reclaim my sanity.
One by one I removed all the little plastic boxes and piled them on the kitchen table. The shelves were empty and still no radio. Could there be one inside one of the boxes? I had heard that tooth fillings or other metal oxides on metal could sometimes decode radio broadcasts. Could one of my leftovers have turned into some kind of organic radio? I began opening the boxes, one at a time, and sniffing the contents.
The sugar icings were in good condition verified by tasting a finger full of each. One concoction made with pimento olives, cream cheese, and chopped herring had grown a full gray beard which testified to its post adulthood and readiness for toilet disposal.
I progressed through almost all the boxes with no interesting results when I came upon one box that emitted a loud squeak when I opened it.
"Aha", I exclaimed. "There you are".
"Obviously!" it answered. Had I discovered an organic cell phone? A radio would not have answered me.
"Where are you?" I asked.
"Right in front of your nose, idiot." it replied. So it wasn't a cell phone. I had discovered intelligent alien life! I carefully set it down on the table. Stared at it. It had a faint aroma of Parmesan cheese. Thus the Italian accent. With a rather rough male tone. Further exploration revealed a box with a heavy Roquefort odor. And this one had a French accent. Definitely female (and rather appealing).
We conversed for almost an hour and I found them both rather interesting but extremely limited. They each had a wealth of ideas for recipes (all involving cheese) but the rest of their understanding of the universe was limited to the inside of my refrigerator, whatever music they had overheard from my hi-fi system, and what they might have glanced from my kitchen window and inferred from incident street noises when the door was opened. Considering their limited data input they were amazingly astute.
Exhausted, I carefully replaced them in the refrigerator and retired.
The next day I called a friend who was a professor of molecular biology at a nearby university. I tried to tell him of my amazing experience but midway in my story he burst into loud guffaws, complemented me on my outrageous sense of humor, and hung up. This was my only serious attempt to inform the world. Just recently a good friend had had some rather interesting innovative ideas about the nature of reality. Despite furious protests he had quickly ended up in involuntary commitment to a psychological institute. That pathway had no appeal to me whatsoever.
Our very rewarding friendship lasted six weeks. We collaborated on a series of wonderful new recipes for which I gained a modicum of local fame. Although it would have been fair to give my strange friends equal credit I considered it wise not to try to convince people about the source. We watched TV together for a while but it was so below their level of intelligence that they quickly lost interest.
When I informed them of the state of world politics they were caught between being aghast and amused and decided it was better to ignore the area. They were faintly interested in religion but persisted in pronouncing Christ's first name as "cheese".
At the end something went wrong with their components and no adjustment would help. Their voices grew weaker and they both felt ill. A bit of salt, a drop of vinegar was no help at all. A spoonful of champagne helped momentarily but their speech became slurred and incoherent. Desperate, I took my two boxes to an emergency ward of the local hospital but they rapidly kicked me out the door.
At end, they dried up and died. I mourned them for a week and am trying to arrange a plot at a local cemetery. This has proved quite a challenge but I might possibly arrange it. Their headstone will read, "There's no food like an old food".
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