Scott often teases me that while I'm patient and sympathetic (to a fault sometimes) with animate things, whether they be people or animals or plants, I have little patience for inanimate objects. Maybe I take out my bottled up frustration with animate things on the inanimate objects in my life, who knows. But I do know that I can direct quite a bit of anger and resentment at things that don't breathe, or talk back, or have feelings--like my refrigerator, for instance.
I hate my fridge. I have hated my fridge from the day we moved into this house, a little over two years ago. I tried to convince Scott on moving day that we needed a new refrigerator, but he argued (reasonably) that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Our current fridge is a side-by-side, and both sides are woefully narrow. As a result, most of the things in the fridge end up pushed to the back. In order to reach them you have to a) remove the things in the front b) try to carefully extract the item in the back without knocking over condiments and bottles on the way out (it's like a giant Operation game but with food and spillable items) or c) ignore them until they start to smell. If your house is like mine, c) happens a lot, and also half of the things in the fridge have lids that aren't screwed on tightly, or bowls that are too loosely covered in plastic wrap. Scott, who is more patient that I am with inanimate things, will carefully remove the things in the front before getting the thing from the back out.
But I am often rooting around in the fridge under extreme pressure--the kind of pressure you feel when it's 6:30 and you're trying to make dinner, or you come home from the library at 1:00 and one kid who opted not to eat lunch when it was offered earlier in the day has been clamoring for lunch for over an hour, all through the library, and the drive home, until you are so frazzled you can't see straight. The kind of pressure that forces you to do b) and discover that THE WORST thing ever to spill inside and outside of a fridge--worse than soy milk or soy sauce or lemonade or the brine from the feta cheese even--is pickles. Trust me on this one.
I'll fast forward over the scene immediately following the spilled pickles and merely say that after the one child had been fed, and the kids set up with a Flinstones episode on TV for rest time, I spent about 30 minutes ogling refrigerators on the internet, picking out this one, and devising a way to either convince Scott that we needed a new fridge ASAP, or finding a way to sabotage the one we do have so we can have an excuse to buy a new one. (You can really spend a lot of money on a fridge--who knew?). But when I had calmed down some, and the deli-counter smell had finally dissipated in my kitchen, I realized that we could spend a week at the beach for the price of the relatively humble fridge I want. And a big part of me does squirm at the thought of replacing something functional with something else just because you hate it (maybe, though, I could pay someone to sabotage it?).
I still don't love my fridge--I don't even really like it. And I wouldn't shed one single tear if it were to break down tomorrow. But maybe I'll try to work a little harder on a) in the future, and on taking some deep breaths before I open those narrow, side-by-side doors and delve in for a bottle of sunflower butter. And as T. told me later, when I took her on my lap and explained why Mama had temporarily lost her mind over a jar of pickles and a refrigerator, sometimes "you just have to clean up the pickles and not cry about it."
Words of wisdom, I think, we could all learn from.