John Carlson: Cooler Days Are Ahead

It’s out with the old and in with the new. Photo by: Nancy CarlsonIt’s out with the old and in with the new. Photo by: Nancy Carlson

By: John Carlson—

It’s never easy when a beloved family companion dies. The wheezing. The weird, disturbing sounds emanating from somewhere deep down below. The lukewarm yogurt.

Uh, lukewarm yogurt?

Oh, sorry. Did I fail to mention I’m writing about our old refrigerator?

It had done a yeoman’s job of refrigeration since our move into this house three years ago. But once it begins showing symptoms of serious maladies, nothing really restores its health. Not God answering our fervent prayers to avoid paying to replace it. Not the good advice from my buddy Jen Merritt on how to fix it. Not even my wife Nancy’s heroic efforts to clean its gunked-up pipes to keep it running.

Finally, conceding the inevitable, she goes out and buys another one. My only advice is to buy a sophisticated, top-of-the-line model because I’m such a techno-geek, I even wear a watch with a button that lights up the numbers at night.

So bright and early the next morning, right in the middle of my breakfast bagel, two musclebound fellas haul in our new fridge, and it’s a beaut!  No nicks. No stains. No disturbing aroma recalling tragic times from the past, like when I lost track of some unwrapped braunschweiger behind a dish of sauerkraut for seven months.

But the most exciting thing I notice is this little black screen on the refrigerator door with a blue picture of a glass with some ice cubes in it. My curiosity aroused, I press a real glass against this metal tongue sort of thingee, and danged if some real ice cubes don’t tumble out the door! So then I haphazardly press somewhere else on the screen and out of nowhere, the word “alarm” suddenly appears.

Even for a techno-geek, this is a disturbing development.

“Nancy!” I scream, all sissy-like, because whatever I did, I’m afraid our new refrigerator is about to make “aaahoooga” noises like nuclear power plants do during meltdowns. But she runs over and turns the warning light off and tells me to quit screwing around with it before she has to go out and buy another fridge.

But that’s fine, because by now I am truly intrigued by this new refrigerator, wondering what other little blue pictures might pop up when I press the black screen.

Is there one marked “water”? Better yet, is there one marked “tonic water,” located alongside another marked “gin”? That’s a feature I would gladly pay extra for. Furthermore, is there a little blue picture of an extruder shooting out handfuls of delicious cheesecake to cram into your mouth, minus all that stupid crust? Or how about a guacamole extruder pictured with nacho chips flying out the top? Best of all, is there an extruder picturing a container of Duncan Hines Home-Style Chocolate Buttercream cake icing that neatly squirts measured mouthfuls of it onto your fingers for easy licking? You know, so guys don’t have to hide the containers back behind the braunschweiger from uptight women who get all persnickety about people spooning cake icing directly into their mouths?

Women like – oh, I dunno – my wife?

You know, there just might be!

Then Nancy walks over and says, “It also has a lunch drawer.

“Lunch drawer?” I ask, askance.

“You know,” she explains. “A special drawer for lunch things like cheese and cold cuts.”

Well, that really hits home, because had there been a special drawer for cold cuts in our old fridge, it might have headed off a certain braunschweiger incident that nearly drove Nancy and me to marriage counseling a couple years back. And who’s to say what other special drawers it has?

Is there a spareribs drawer, maybe even one that the FDA requires be kept filled with barbecue spareribs? I mean, I’m all for individual rights and stuff, but I could really get behind a federal law like that. Or how about a coleslaw drawer, where you just drop in a cabbage head and a carrot or two, pour in some dressing and listen to it whir a while? Next thing you know, it’s filled with creamy slaw the likes of which even the coleslaw mavens at local coleslaw emporiums like Timbers and Amazing Joe’s might envy.

Yeah, that’d work.

And Lord, is it possible this new refrigerator has a special Klondike ice cream bar drawer? I mean, I crave Klondike Bars like other folks crave meth. So whenever Nancy goes to the store, I insist, “Ya gotta buy me Klondike Bars! I don’t care what flavor! But they gotta be normal-sized, normal-calorie, normal Klondike Bars! Not those lousy little skinny diet ones! Are we clear on that, toots?”

She always answers, “Of course, my darling.”

Then an hour later she gets home and what do I find her unpacking? Klondike Bars the size of matchbook covers. Reduced-sugar Klondike Bars. No-sugar Klondike Bars. Hundred-calorie Klondike Bars that taste like a main ingredient is tofu.

So now I’m wondering, can I somehow set up that “alarm” feature on our new fridge so it locks down the freezer and goes “aaahoooga” whenever Nancy approaches with a bag of bogus Klondike Bars?

I don’t know. But I’m gonna find out.


A former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, John Carlson is a storyteller with an unflagging appreciation for the wonderful people of East Central Indiana and the tales of their lives, be they funny, poignant, inspirational or all three.