When My Refrigerator Enters the Twilight Zone

Scary encounters of the food kind.

by Donna Cavanagh • Guest Writer
retro refrigerator photoBy Don
Photograph: Photo by iStock.

My coffee creamer had somehow relocated itself to the back of my refrigerator. As I removed the soy milk, the orange juice, the tomato juice and the 10 other items that stood in front of my beloved creamer, I realized it was time to clean out this old monstrosity once again. 

I do not understand how this appliance gets so crowded with stuff. We are only three people in this house, and I do try to empty it out regularly… well, occasionally…OK,  twice a year…maybe, less. I don’t know. I don’t keep track!

I am not sure what came over me, but after I found my creamer I decided it was time to do the refrigerator purge right then and there. I started with the top shelf and worked my way down. Refrigerators are amazing. They are the black hole of appliances. There is a whole Twilight Zone thing going on inside that beast! I can put a container or jar on a shelf and then it disappears.

My theory on this is that it gets sucked into some kind of parallel refrigerator universe. That jar or container is not seen again for months until it is spit out of the alternate universe and left for dead in the very back corner of the middle shelf where no eyes ever dare to look.

I have to say that the alternate refrigerator universe was busy this time around. As I reached my hands into my old, outdated appliance, I came across several of those disposable leftover containers. I only lifted the cover on one. That action caused me to gag and almost throw up because I could not recognize what had been in there. 

I am assuming it was some kind of food or stew but I wasn’t sure if it was meant for human or canine consumption. Either way, the smell sent my gag reflex into overdrive, and I had to head over to the sink until the dry heaves passed. After I composed my stomach, I took the other three disposable containers and chucked them in the trash.

I returned to the fridge to find several bottles of beer my husband does not drink. It was not the brand my daughter and her boyfriend drink, either, so I stood there and pondered: How old must this brew be? Then, I remembered our traditional Fourth of July barbecue with our good friends. Yes, it was Samarin beer. I thought we gave it to them as they left. I distinctly remember saying, “Take it. It will only go to waste here.”

Oh, well. There was a lot of food, drink and fireworks in my backyard that night, so we all just forgot about it. Then I had a disturbing thought: it could have been the leftover beer from Fourth of July 2009. Was it possible I hadn’t cleaned out the fridge since then? Anyway, after I emptied those bottles, I returned to the cold pit only to find an open can of Betty Crocker chocolate frosting.

Ooh, I remember this,” I said aloud. “This isn’t that old. A few months, tops.” I opted to keep the frosting because to me it is sacred food; I never just throw it away because it has been sitting around for a few weeks, or months. 

I remembered when I purchased this can. I wasn’t baking – God, no! No, I got this one during an emotional PMS episode when I was experiencing a simultaneous bout of “my writing career is in the toilet” syndrome.

When I get hit with a double whammy like that, I go for chocolate frosting. I literally sit down and eat the entire can. The mystery in this case is not when I bought the frosting, but how is it that some frosting remained?

I admit that it is during these chocolate-frosting moments that I start to think that I might not be the “most normal” writer on the planet. I used to think that I was an anomaly in the writing profession. I used to think that I had no hang-ups or phobias or “issues” like all my other writer friends. However, the chocolate frosting reminded me that I am just as screwed up as the rest of them. Frankly, I don’t care. When I am going through such emotional turmoil, nothing makes me feel as secure as my two friends—Betty Crocker and the Pillsbury Doughboy.

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