Science Projects Gone Wrong | Beth Dolinaire

Here, on Saturdays, it’s to clean the fridge.

The fact that loads of Saturdays went by without me doing so should paint a pretty accurate picture of what the inside of my side-by-side Whirlpool looked like.

Last Saturday morning, when I came inside to grab my coffee creamer and two truffles from Trader Joe, yum, I was faced with a mystery. Was that brown thing on the plate at the bottom of the top shelf a brownie? Was it a forgotten piece of cake? Oh, honey, let it not be chicken.

Wanting to avoid knowing for sure, I moved my delicious range of flavored coffee creamers, threw a paper towel over the suspicious square thing, grabbed it, stuffed it into a blue plastic bag and buried her deep, deep in the trash can. I treated the centipedes more gently.

If I forgot a real brownie, what else could be moldy in the cold depths of the fridge? Creepy and fuzzy things were surely waiting for me in the drawers.

Those carrots I bought a long time ago when I was thinking about making vegetable soup? Is that what those rust-colored things are? Or are they hot dogs? I picked one up and it folded up like a soft noodle. That dark green thing in the far corner of the crisper? My best guess is that it was once a bit of kale, now the sad remnants of my very ambitious leafy green stage.

Next drawer, cheese. Grated mozzarella, grated parmesan, grated orange which is called a mexican mix. Science projects, all.

Maybe I should be too ashamed to write about the state of my refrigerator, and looking back, I probably should be ashamed, but I’m already halfway through my word count for this column. Besides, mine must not be the only poorly managed cooler, as my grandparents called them.

Now to scrub the shelves. Living alone and feeding mainly on myself, my refrigerator is never very full. I downloaded what I had on the counters, opening jars to check for shrubbery. I read that tomatoes don’t go moldy from all the acid, but I’m here to tell you that’s not true.

One by one, I slid out the glass shelves, took them to the sink, and jostled them around to scrub and rinse them. My sink is precisely the wrong shape and size to perform this task, which I will now use as the reason why I haven’t cleaned them before. Off came the crunchy and gooey, the grape jelly bits and the single dried B vitamin pill (no clue). Scrubbing was taking so long that I was worried that the food waiting on the counters would spoil.

Dried. It’s one of those greedy words that we writers don’t use very often, but it’s a good word. At the bottom of the bottom glass shelf was a pot of yoghurt, circa summer 2021. Dare I remove the aluminum lid? It’s dried out into a hard, cracked block – proof that even yogurt, which by its nature is half bad to begin with, can spoil if given enough time and space.

At the end of the hour the shelves were clean and back in place and ready for the food to return. The last time I felt that sense of accomplishment was when I was sorting through my vast and unruly sneaker wardrobe.

After placing the last bottle of coffee creamer on the glittering top shelf, I stood in front of the open door for a moment, reveling in my housekeeping skills and the immaculateness of my refrigerator. How very refreshing.

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