Stand back on opening

Elise T. Chisolm

August 06, 1991|By Elise T. Chisolm

THERE'S something crawling along the top shelf of the refrigerator. They're kind of thin and greenish-white. On closer scrutiny, I realize they are bean sprouts.

Some occupants of this house are vegetarians, so the refrigerator is full of all kinds of beans.

Uh, oh, there are some black dots on the goat cheese. It could be pepper. But then it could be ants; we've had a few sightings on the floor. Yuk.

I am looking for a plum. There were some here yesterday.

It's 4:30 in the afternoon. The rest of the gang -- these people I am temporarily living with -- are at the beach, and I'm hungry. There are no rules here. When you get hungry you open the refrigerator door and help yourself. It's first come, first served. Catch as catch can.

Ah, here's a plum. No, it's a prune. Or is it a purple onion? If I could just squeeze my hand between this huge bowl of cherries and the dish of leftover swordfish that was so good on the grill last night, I could reach the plums.

We are an extended family on vacation, but the fridge does not extend far enough. There are about nine of us, I think. At least that's how many were at the dining room table last night.

Within this refrigerator from hell is a mix of food that would confuse a buzzard. We are warring forces, catering to very diverse tastes. Just because we are related doesn't mean everyone likes orange juice or Cheerios.

There are no fridge police, but I think because I am the oldest I may have to clean it out when our week is up. So I survey the substances within.

There's lots of leftover pizza.

Most of it has pepperoni, some has just cheese, and some has things on top that I don't want to talk about. Because of the vegetarians, there's a lot of leftover pasta. Nothing seems moldy yet, but it's getting hard to tell.

There are three cartons of opened baby food, those little containers that can be heated up in the microwave in 20 seconds for the 2-year-old, and a few dishes of unfinished oatmeal that we think he'll finish tomorrow. There's a dish of lasagna left by the 12-year-old who loves lasagna.

We are a picky bunch. There are seven different kinds of breads, and the top shelf holds at least eight different kinds of soda pop. Some among us are Pepsi people, some are classic Coke freaks, some are hypochondriacs who can't drink caffeine or sugar or whatever. Me, I stick to purple plums.

If there were ever a yuppie who finished a canned soda, let me know. They all leave an ounce or two at the bottom of each can and then put the can back in the fridge.

It looks like a college dorm fridge. But these people are fortysomething, and they should know better than to leave soda opened for four days.

There is tofu, which never looks good left over, and a bunch of cooked corn on the cob. And here's the yogurt. There are all kinds -- mostly low-fat, natch.

The freezer is full of iced pops, and next to the frozen squid bait is the designer ice cream. Did anyone go fishing?

There are light sticks that light up at night for beach play.

Is this the great life, or what? All these choices? I decide I want some milk. Now the milk most of them like is that bluish skim stuff. Oh, no, I want the 2 percent at least. Give the old lady some pleasure still. I decide to mix the skim milk with some designer vanilla ice cream. Not bad.

Oh, yes there are four beers. But no one seems to be drinking very much. Perhaps they just read that alcohol is bad for you in the heat.

I decide that I will clean the fridge before we leave, but maybe it's better not to contemplate this job too soon. We still have a few more meals to go. Surely, the gulls will eat the rotting swordfish and tired bean sprouts. I wonder if gulls like tofu?

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