Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chickens In The Side Yard Peckin' At Dough

I was planning a trip to town today, so I quickly took a tour of the inside of Frig, our Frigidaire. He's so cool, our Frig. All silvery and shiny and quick to spit ice cubes into our cups or baggies or outstretched hands. So totally unlike his predecessor, a positively frigid, unforgiving hulk who kept everything bottled up inside. Until he exacted revenge.

We had a bit of a rocky relationship from the start. He was a gift from my mom and dad, a gift to replace the older model who came with my $16,000 house. You can imagine what a prize that appliance was. New Fridge arrived one summer day, all almondy and doubled-doored and elegant, eager to wedge his way into our hearts, a wedding present to grace our humble home and chill with us through the tranquil seas of matrimony. Farmer H was only a twinkle in his own eye back then, in the days when he was Maintenance Manager H.

New Fridge was in for a rude awakening. The delivery men could not fit him through the front door of the $16,000 house. They had to park him on the porch, remove both doors, and wheel him in piecemeal. New Fridge pretended everything was cool with him. He stood patiently between the cutting block and the window air conditioner, storing the necessities of life such as giant jars of Sam's Club red-hot pickled sausages, leftover Wednesday night Chinese take-out, and 12-packs of Milwaukee's Best Light. Life went on. And on. The #1 son was born. New Fridge, appalled that a toddler still demanded a bottle to set beside his red-hot pickled sausages and cashew chicken, devised a clever plan to mock me.

I tried and tried to break #1 of his drinking habit. It would have horrified me less to catch him popping open a can of The Beast than to have him toddling around with a Playtex baggie-thingie plastic bottle, swilling milk. I tried to taper him down to one a day, with the goal to get rid of the bottle entirely within a couple of weeks. Au contraire. The boy and the fridge conspired against me. I stored the bottle on New Fridge's top shelf. Behind the 4 lb. jar of red-hot pickled sausages. I knew it was safe there, until the doling-out time of my choosing. I was the adult, right? #1 was a mere toddler. Imagine my surprise when the boy swaggered into the living room one afternoon, chugging milk from a baby bottle. "Where did you get that?" #1 shrugged his shoulders. He turned and looked back at me. "I show you." Of course I followed. Upon rounding the corner to the kitchen, I found him standing ON the third shelf of New Fridge, pointing behind the sausage jar. He was a regular Sir Edmund Hillary, that boy.

So much for the hide-it-on-a-high-shelf tactic. New Fridge and #1 could not be beat, working as a team like that. I cut the boy off cold turkey. It was not a pleasant intervention.

New Fridge sat like a totem, guarding the entrance to the kitchen, for another two years. Each night, he would wheeze and grumble. There was no physical reason. He was still young in fridge years. It must have been out of spite. We purchased Hillmomba, built the Mansion, and moved New Fridge with us. He was part of the family. The part that you really only want to see when you need him for something, or perhaps at major holidays.

At the Mansion, New Fridge grew incontinent. Some mornings, the unsuspecting Hillbilly would walk into the kitchen, and shriek as a sock-foot became a sponge for New Fridge's effluence. We tolerated it for several years. New Fridge sat, foreboding, secretive, in the midst of our happy family. And then one night, the beginning of the end foisted itself into our idyllic lifestyle.

I was in the basement, ensconced in solitude, when I heard a gunshot. This was in the early years, still before the advent of Farmer H from Maintenance Manager H. So it did not even cross my mind that somebody would be shooting at H. Some spooky foreshadowing, though. The next morning, I went to pour milk for the boys' cereal, The Pony having joined us a couple of years prior. I pulled open the door of New Fridge. His door was shattered on the top two shelves. It was like a bomb had exploded in his innards.

Further investigation turned up what used to be a can of biscuits. Old, expired biscuits. Who knew the power that can accumulate from fermentation? You would have thought the biscuits would grow weaker, becoming shadows of their former selves, unable to rise to the occasion. But no. Their can exploded like a 50 megaton bomb. Or perhaps I exaggerate a tad.

Anyhoo, the point I was going to make, back at the beginning of this rabbit trail, was that upon checking Frig for the date on the milk jug, The Pony spied a can of biscuits in the back. I rushed to examine them more closely, and saw that the expiration date was April 2010. Without even calling the bomb squad for robotic detonation, I removed the biscuit can and opened it with a fork. Not wanting to waste some good expired dough, The Pony and I took it out to the front porch, where we tossed it into the side yard for the chickens. They're natural-born peckers, you know. That's what the custodian told me one day.

And there you have it. Chickens in the side yard peckin' at dough.

And here you have
New Fridge, after he
became Old Fridge,
and was unceremoniously
hauled out to the porch
before being relegated to
the BARn to do the bidding
of Farmer H.

Oh, how the might have

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