Small Wonders: Saying goodbye to a cold friend

October 22, 2010|By Patrick Caneday

I knew there was trouble when I opened the garage and saw the ominous trail of fluid upon the floor, like blood from a victim's gunshot wound. Something terrible had happened; a sense of dread came over me.

Let's start from the beginning.

Besides the couch that daily withstands the abuses of Thing 1 and Thing 2, a microwave oven and various other household items, my wife and I bought a refrigerator early in our marriage. It was our first joint major appliance purchase.

It solidified a long-term commitment not only to creditors, but also to each other. By buying this together, it says, we promise to live with it and each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


We're not a high-maintenance couple. Our appliances need not have rolled off a German assembly line and road-tested on the Autobahn. It was a simple refrigerator: white, freezer on top, fridge below, two drawers. No ice maker or water dispenser. Just a fridge.

But it became so much more.

After some years in the kitchen, it was relegated to the garage in our last move, becoming our secondary cold storage. For a family of four, it was nice to have a place for things that would otherwise clutter the in-house icebox. Stocked before backyard parties, it gave visitors easy access to drinks.

On hot days in the pool, it's where you got a cold one so you wouldn't trail water through the kitchen. It was my liquid oasis while working under the hot sun. And that intense sun was, I believe, its demise.

During the scorching September heat wave that recent rains have cast from our memory, I opened my garage to that most unpleasant sight. A blast of sickly hot air washed over me as the garage door rose; a hot box exhaling in relief. But it was too late for the refrigerator baking within that sauna. Wheezing achingly, his life-fluids drained from him.

Yes. It was a him. Where boats, barbecues and hurricanes — until more metrosexual times — get feminine identities, the garage fridge can only be male. Why? Because he held everything that made me feel like a guy. He was my porter; my squat, tough, quiet Himalayan porter, carrying everything I put on him with dignity, grace and servitude. Asking only to be plugged in, he held my burdens along with my porterhouse and rib-eye.

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