This was my entry in this year's Robert Benchley Writing Competition. If you follow that link you'll see some of Benchley's more famous quotes. He was a member of the Algonquin Round Table in New York and is widely recognized as one of the premier humorists in the history of humor. This will not be said about me when I'm dead and buried at my decidedly non star-studded funeral. I'll save you the trouble, I DIDN'T EVEN MAKE TOP 10 AND ARTE I'M A THOUSAND YEARS OLD JOHNSON WAS THE JUDGE. It probably would've helped to familiarize myself more with Benchley's humor but then I wouldn't have had anything to bitch about.
I own a refrigerator. This is dull news unless you’ve never owned one. And I haven’t. Nor have I wanted to. I’m a renter. We look down on owning.
“It was left by the last guy; you wanna buy it?”
“Fifty dollars a month on top of the rent?”
“Nah, just a one time thing.”
You can’t buy a toaster for fifty dollars, much less an entire refrigerator with shelves and cubicles and a separate little apartment for the butter. I was suspicious. Had this refrigerator been in prison and couldn’t get a decent job anywhere but in a rental unit? Who was this “last guy” who left it behind? What kind of shady activity was he involved in that required him to take off without a refrigerator?
“How old is it?” I asked the manager, opening the fridge door and expecting to see a family of mold sitting around the crisper knitting.
“Only two, looks pretty good for its age, right?”
Two in rental talk obviously means three. And “looks good for its age” is what people say about women who are aging dubiously.
“It has an ice-maker. It’ll make ice day and night, miss.”
That doesn’t seem like a plus to me. An ice maker that makes money day and night, definitely a plus. But how much ice does one person need?
“It’s a Westinghouse.”
“Is that good?”
“Yes ma’am, made right here in the U S of A.”
The manager switched from calling me miss to ma’am in the course of three seconds. This refrigerator was aging me. And not dubiously.
I bought the four year old refrigerator and moved in a few days later. It hummed quietly in the far corner of my clean white kitchen, next to the window overlooking the pink bougainvillea growing over the roof of my nearest neighbor. I checked the freezer. There was ice.
I invited a friend over. He brought wine and various shades of oohs and ahhs.
“Can you help me turn the microwave right side up?”
“How did it get upside down?”
“The movers were in a hurry.”
“You told them you weren’t going to tip them, didn’t you?”
“The tip is included in the price, like in France.”
“So you only invited me to help move this thing?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re the only person I know who works out with weights so you take that corner and I’ll take this corner and easy does it, and flipping, and turning… and down… we… go.”
And I set the microwave down on my left thumb.
“I’m okay. Really, I’m fine, see? These aren’t even real tears.”
“Let me look at…wow, you have a white refrigerator! You really don’t see these anymore since everyone wants stainless. Is yours vintage?”
“No, it’s only five years old.”
“Now let me look at your thumb; you know you’re going to have to keep ice on that day and night.”
So this week's Bite Me Award goes to Arte Johnson and Robert Benchley, even though Benchley died in 1945 and will not likely be reading my blog today: