Weekend Wanderer: The Refrigerator Is Trying to Die


weekend wanderer

One day in 2017, Indy pulled my fridge from its kitchen nook. 

I was in trouble. 

Upon discovering my failure to periodically clean behind and beneath the fridge, Indy told me he’d be over to be sure I got the job done. 

I should have been able to get that fridge out myself.  

But I never could. 

Slash, was never interested. 

While pulling out the fridge, Indy lectured me on the importance of keeping the wall side of the fridge clean. 

“If it’s so important,” I asked, “why aren’t those parts in the front where they’re easier to reach?” 

Indy was not impressed by my ingenuity. Don’t ever question your refrigerator’s practicality in front of an HVAC guy. Nothing good comes of it. 

I dutifully cleaned the back of, you know, my fridge.  

Not Indy’s fridge. 

“Do that every few months,” Indy instructed. 

Well, that every-few-month cleanout never came to pass. Indy got too sick, Willie got too Willie, and I was lucky if my own back got cleaned, let alone the fridge’s back. 

And the fridge exacted its revenge.  

How very Christine of it. 

While not as homicidal as the Stephen King vehicle, the fridge did kill any and all ice cube production. 

Now, I’m not above making my own ice. I spent years in an apartment lacking an icemaker. It also lacked air conditioning, a solid front door, a garbage disposal, a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher, and privacy. 

And my cat lost her fur. 

So reverting to ice trays felt nostalgic. Even better, my husband bought me a Han Solo ice cube tray.  

It makes tiny Han Solos trapped in carbonite.  

The fridge and I trucked along, with the fridge imposing its petty tyranny and me trapping Han Solo in carbonite ice cubes. 

But like Christine, the fridge plagued me with other problems. If a crisper’s function is to give vegetables a satisfying crunch, then freezing them is an overachievement known only to the Alex P. Keatons of the world. 

And the door losing its ability to swing closed automatically — it’s almost the inverse of Christine, who so enjoyed slamming doors, the better to lock people inside of her. 

And attempt to kill them. 

I guess I should consider myself lucky. 

Still, I was fine with the fridge. I made ice. I ate frozen broccoli. I closed the door behind inattentive adolescents. 

But then that Wednesday in May arrived and I wasn’t fine anymore. 

It was late that Wednesday evening as our nightly bedtime choreography played out.  

And one person — well, one person got something from the fridge.  

And never closed its door. 

“Who didn’t close the door?” my daughter asked. 

“I have a theory,” I replied. 

My theory is that it wasn’t me. 

I awoke Thursday morning to an open fridge and warm milk. How warm milk was supposed to cool my tea to the perfect temperature for consumption, I’ll never know. I closed the door and left it closed. 

For nine hours. 

But the fridge was no cooler. The milk was still warm. The butter was soft. The strawberries sprouted hair in a way my cat never did in the apartment.  

“It’s dead,” my husband said, scrolling for appliance sales. 

“It’s not dead,” I said, defiant. 

I don’t know if that response came from an HVAC repairman’s kid — an HVAC repairman who never threw anything away, I might add — or from a grieving kid who had let down her father with her dusty fridge. 

Either way, I stood my ground. I couldn’t stop Indy from dying. But I was sure I could stop that fridge from dying. 

I bet my husband $100 I could salvage the fridge. 

“You’re on,” he said. 

Why? Why save a fridge willing to turn broccoli to ice in the crisper but not water to ice in the freezer? Well, why did Arnie defend Christine to his parents, best friend, girlfriend? 

In the book, the spirit of Christine’s original owner inhabits the car, driving Arnie to protect it despite its evil ways. In my kitchen, it was Indy’s spirit, driving me to restore the fridge. 

We pulled the fridge from its kitchen nook for the first time in six years. 

Um, it was gross. 

An errant pill bottle lay amidst an ocean of Cheerios. Shards of a glass I’d broken months ago sliced my hand each time I thought I found the last piece. Magnets from long-forgotten destinations lay like toppled tombstones. 

But the worst part was the hair.  

Pet fur coated the floor, enough for me to have made a toupee for my bald cat, were she still alive. 

No wonder the fridge had terrorized me.  

I had to do right by her — yes, her, like Christine. I cleaned her. Defrosted her. I dusted the back and didn’t even complain. 

Then I plugged her in and asked her to please work. 

And she did. 

The next morning, the fridge was a cool 40 degrees. I collected my $100 and put reminders in my phone to clean her. 

Every few months. Just like Indy said. 

I had done with the fridge what Arnie had never done with Christine. Which is to say, I’d come out on top. I hadn’t become possessed and killed like 20 people in the process. 


Like my fridge. 

The next morning, the fridge continued to chug along just fine.  

But the freezer had quit. 

The ice trays held barely frozen water. The frozen cherries were mush. The chicken nuggets were a consistency somewhere between Play-Doh and Stretch Armstrong. 

“I can fix this,” I told my husband. 

“Want to bet?” he asked. 

You’re on. 

Just call me Arnie. 

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