Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It got colder — that’s where it ends...

Ding, dong, the fridge is dead! And long live the fridge!

Okay, it’s not quite dead, but the Eaton Viking model manufactured sometime in the early years of the Reagan Administration that has been chugging away in our kitchen since well before we moved in is slowly dying. And we are more than happy to pull the plug.

We’ve been eagerly anticipating the fridge’s demise for a while. Each time something goes awry, we call Franz, our inscrutable appliance repair guy, and I cross my fingers that he’s going to take a look, shake his head, and say, “You know, I think it might be time to say goodbye.” But he never does. Instead he tightens a hose or replaces the timing mechanism in his understated way, as I hover and ask leading questions. He never takes the bait.

“So,” I’ll say. “When, in your expert opinion, do you think we should call it quits and replace this thing?”

“That depends,” he’ll say. “But, generally, when it stops cooling things.”

It’s not quite that I need Franz’s permission to buy a new refrigerator. It’s just that it somehow feels more responsible to go purchase a major appliance “because our appliance guy told us to,” rather than “because it’s an ugly relic of the early 1980s.” I mean, take a look:

Yes, yes, I know that the newer fridges are much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, but I just would have savoured that little nudge from Franz in the right direction. (And, why, yes: those are white melamine cupboards! They go so nicely with the flowered linoleum floor, don’t you think? But I digress.)

In any case, Rachel and I noticed a puddle of water emanating from underneath the Viking a couple of days ago and decided enough was enough. We briefly consulted Consumer Reports, measured the space, hightailed it over to Sears and picked out a new — Energy Star–rated — model in basic black, in approximately 20 minutes. Our salesperson was an odd mixture of completely not homophobic and utterly sexist: got it right away that we were a couple, asked how many kids we had at home, compared notes with us on child-rearing, but also made fun of Rachel for being “a sarcastic woman” and me for being “an opinionated woman,” while suggesting that it was a good thing we had two sons instead of two daughters — “because four women in one household – hooo boy.”

It was oddly refreshing.

So, we buy the fridge. It’s going to be delivered the first week of September. And then I mention to Rowan later that evening that the current fridge will soon be gone, to be replaced by a new one.

And he loses it.

“I don’t want the fridge to go away,” he wails. “I don’t want a new fridge. I want this fridge. I love this fridge.” Tears, shuddering sobs, snot, the whole bit. I think he might have even hugged the old Viking. It took about 20 minutes to calm him down and distract him, with promises that the current fridge would still be there when he woke up in the morning, that everything would be okay.

So, what’s with the sudden passion for the fridge? I mean, of course, he loves to stand in front of the thing with the door open while I intone like a robot about wasting energy and all, but beyond that, I’ve never known him to profess any great love for the beast. My sense is that — of course — it’s about something else.

And that something else? Just a hunch, but this: Rob is leaving soon.

If you look closely, you can just make out the face of a man in two photographs tacked up to the side of the fridge. That’s Rob, with each of the boys as babies. Rob is our cherished friend, our sperm donor, a key part of the extended family, and Rowan and Isaac’s, well, their “Rob,” who currently lives and works in a different city but who has spent the past five weeks with us, playing Chase and Cat in the Hat and Princesses and Chutes & Ladders and Pok√©mon and computer games with the boys, holding slumber parties and sleepovers, babysitting and hanging out and cooking and talking and eating ice cream with us and generally being a mensch.

But, summer days are slipping away. Soon, August will give way to September and school and work commitments, and Rob will have to leave.

None of us — me, Rachel, Rob — can actually talk about the upcoming goodbye. The last time Rob left, I sat with two sobbing little boys on the front steps as the car pulled out of the driveway on its way to the airport, Rachel and Rob white-faced in the front seat. The plan had been for Rowan to accompany them to the airport, but he wouldn’t get in the car, as if that might somehow delay the inevitable. But the inevitable, it has a funny way of happening in the end.

So, it’s getting colder. The fall will come, and we’ll stick old pictures our sexy new fridge — which will, undoubtedly, chill the milk much more efficiently than its predecessor. And try not to pine too much for, uh oh, those summer nights.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bonus points: Use all three in a sentence

So, it’s not just me: apparently “moist” is one of the most hated words in (North) America. I can’t decide whether I feel vindicated about my lifelong repulsion towards it, conjuring up, as it does, images of mould, bugs hiding under wet rocks, off food, earwigs in dank basements, laundry gone sour, unwashed bodies in the humidity—hey! Where are you going? I was talking about that creepily disgusting M-word, and whether I can’t decide whether I feel vindicated that it is, apparently, the “patron yuck-word of the [word aversion] movement” or simply resigned to the fact that I will never be original. According to Mark Peters of Good Magazine:

… word aversion has something to do with the sound and structure of the word itself. S]ome reactions are “…bred of the mysterious relationships between language, motion, memory, sound and ‘mouthfeel.’” I’m more used to seeing the word mouthfeel in discussions about beer, but it sure does get at the physical violation some feel when saying certain words.
For years, I had egotistically assumed that the way my stomach turned when confronted with “moist” was a deeply personal, highly idiosyncratic — and slightly adorable — quirk. Nope. Same with my next-least-favourites: “panties” and “slacks.” Everybody hates them. I’m just a demographic. Again. It's All Been Done before. Depressing, no? Might as well go mix up another round of Caesars (with the new Grey Goose vodka — which has just fantastic mouthfeel, by the way) and go join one of the many the “I hate the word ‘moist’” Facebook groups. Who knew?

Thanks to Deborah over at Peaches & Coconuts for the heads up on word aversion!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


As in, “Pretty please, with whipped cream and a cherry on top.” Are we prepared or what?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All hail Caesar

Me, I don’t drink so much. This may come as a surprise when you consider ALL I HAVE TO PUT UP WITH, but really, left to my own devices, I’d probably go a few weeks before cracking open a real beer (the non-alcoholic O’Doul’s I got used to during pregnancy don’t count) or a bottle of wine. It’s not that I don’t like a really excellent cold beer on a hot day or that perfect glass of red wine, more that I rarely seem to think of it as a reasonable (or not so reasonable, depending on your perspective) option at the end of the day or when the children life in general gets stressy. Plus, I don’t like the taste of most hard alcohol — call me crazy, but to me a martini is about the most unappetizing drink on the planet.

My non-predilection for booze puzzles Rachel, for whom a drink at the end of the workday is a rite of passage, the symbolic closing of one door and the opening of another. This is a woman who compares the merits of one brand of gin versus another — and can actually tell the difference — who spent part of yesterday molling (it’s a verb, apparently) mint leaves with lime and icing sugar in a mortar and pestle bought specially for the occasion, in order to make mojitos. Who actually planted mint in our garden for that particular purpose.

But now — now — all that might change. Because I have recently rediscovered the pleasures of that Canadian classic, the Caesar, and all of a sudden I am finding myself thinking, fairly regularly, how nice it might be to have one. It seems counterintuitive: I mean, really, clam juice? Bleah. But, my God, the Clamato, the vodka, the Worcester and Tabasco, the lime, and the ohmygod the celery salt, and it just... works. So very, very well, especially in August. And really, the Clamato would go bad if I didn’t finish it up. (As would, I hear, the Stoli. Just watch Arrested Development.)