What is it about a refrigerator that prevents us from wanting to clean it? Maybe it is the “out of sight – out of mind” syndrome. Maybe it is the thought of all the spoiled food that we suspect is there. Maybe it is simply easier to put it off and pretend we don’t know. Whatever it is, sooner or later the realization comes that something must be done, and elves are not going to do it for us.
You have been delaying the inevitable since Christmas. All the leftovers are still in there, including the potato salad so old that it practically reeks of botchilism. Even if you wanted potato salad, you wouldn’t dare touch it. Beside the potato salad are the neatly bagged slices of ham and turkey. You didn’t want to waste it. Someone would eat it, you thought. But no one did, so it continues to survive in the back of the fridge until it is tinged with green.
You prepare yourself for the task, push up your sleeves and start the ugly job. Food the family might actually eat is in front. It is the back of shelves where things have been crammed, packed in and forgotten, things like sour cream and French Onion dip, things I dare not open but toss without looking inside.
I find juice boxes that I bought but forgot about. I can actually use this now that I know I have it. And joint juice? What the heck is that and why do I have so many bottles? A jug of boiled custard is left from Christmas, and an almost empty milk jug is behind a new one that is full. It is so frustrating.
The refrigerator alarm sounds from holding the door open too long.
Leftovers become visible that have seen a better day. The jello salad they liked so much has been sadly buried in the forsaken collection. Leftovers from restaurants are still in carry-out boxes, half a sandwich, and cold pizza. Why do we bring this stuff home when we will never eat it? Two stale hotdog buns and a package of slimy hotdogs go straight to the garbage can.
Do I dare check the expiration date on the numerous bottles of half-used salad dressing? Some of it expired in 2013. I discover mustard, mayo, jelly, chocolate syrup dripping down the side, and two bottles of vinaigrette dressing that had expired without being opened.
And the refrigerator alarm is sounding again.
Two jars of parmesan cheese, half used. Why two? And two jars of hot peppers? I don’t even like hot peppers. Obviously those elves are sneaking in unwanted groceries. I clean the refrigerator until it sparkles and neatly rearrange the remaining food, cheese, milk, fruit, eggs, and bottles. Strangely, I can hardly miss all the things thrown away.
The final effort is cleaning out the freezer section. It should not be as bad, I think. Still, there is frozen mystery meat and a bag of an unknown substance. I hate cleaning the freezer as I usually get angry. Boxes of frozen pancakes, mozzarella sticks, frozen French fries, and frozen pizza are haphazardly stored. This stuff takes up freezer space I don’t have. No wonder there is no room for the vegetables or frozen foods that we actually eat.
Well, the deed is done. I didn’t locate any festering penicillin or molded bread, so that is a good thing. There were no bags of slimy rotten lettuce, and only one half-used bag of lettuce turning brown. I’ve seen it when it was worse. No wonder I put this off, but the longer the delay, the worse it becomes.
Now that it is finished, I should be good until next Christmas. Okay, maybe not. But at least for a week or two.
Copyright 2017 Sheila Moss