Friday, August 1, 2014

pepperoni in the downstairs frigid air

Around the time that my family became abnormal (this was with the arrival of the fourth child--the Holy One, I call her [up until then, we were perfectly normal and respectable. We had two girls and one boy.
We had one dog. And we only had one mini-van. So far: normal.]), the gentle stasis of our household's cosmos was interrupted.
In addition to our one dog, we also posessed only one refrigerator, and it resided in our kitchen, as refrigerators ought to do.
One magical, joyful, and excellent day, a new refrigerator arrived.
We purchased a lovely white refrigerator to grace our family's culinary temple. 
I was very happy about this, because the first refrigerator was beige monstrosity with faux-wooden detailing which reeked of 1980s bachelor pad. 
At the time, I could not have articulated that this was what our refrigerator reeked of, only that our refrigerator, (like the tall black lamps with strange yellow lampshades in our living room), was not "pretty." 
At that stage in my life, things that were "pretty" included: 
-dresses that had skirts that twirled out around you when you spun (I do not understand why spinning in a circle represented the pinnacle of feminine beauty; and why the height of all glamor and grace was to have your skirt rustle around you as you spun, but it absolutely was for my 6 to 22-year-old-self. All I know is that when you spin, and your skirt spins out around you and then blossoms gracefully around you when you sit down so that you look like a flower sitting in the middle of the berber carpet of your parents' master bedroom floor, in front of the full-length mirror that shows your spinning off to the best advantage, you know without a doubt that you are The Shit. You have Made It. You have Arrived. I don't know why this is. But, undeniably, Skirt-Spinning is the ultimate power pose, and perhaps if we all wore long, flowing skirts to interviews and spun around in them before we presented ourselves to our future bosses, it would increase our psychological confidence or what have you. Who knows?)
-Odette from The Swan Princess
-My Aunt Gail's wedding dress.
-Venus, as portrayed in Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" (I told my mother I wanted that picture hung up in my house when I grew up and for some reason she didn't think this was as good of an idea as I did [But Mom the painting has roses with little gold hearts inside of them floating through the air. Mom, it's pretty])
-The names: Violet, Crystal, Rose, Lydia, Christina, Letitia. Blessed be any girl who was blessed with those names. To this day, whenever I met a girl whose bears the name "Rose," I gasp a bit, wondering how she can possibly bear such a life of elegance that must befall anyone who bears such an ethereal [and pretty] name as "Rose."
-Any refrigerator that was not beige with faux-wood detailing.

So what happened to our 1980's bachelor pad refrigerator? Did we sell it in a garage sale? Did we throw it away? Did we pass it on to a bachelor cousin, and thus perpetuate the bachelor pad lifestyle?
No. No, no. For little did I know (but perhaps my parents suspected) that our family was going through a growth spurt (both individually and as a collective), and in the name of Thriftiness and Additional Storage Space, Mr. Beige Bachelor Pad Refrigerator would find a new home in one of the most mysterious and beloved rooms in the house: The Basement Office.
The Basement Office is one of those places that holds old family secrets like parents' high school year books and scrapbooks from European excursions. The Basement Office is one of those rooms that holds newspaper clippings and articles full of enlightening family information.
The Basement Office is the place you can go to peek at Christmas tree ornaments in July. You lift the lid of the very 1980's green and yellow storage boxes, and a whiff of pine and sugar cookies and fresh snowfall on the driveway greet your sunburnt nose.
The Basement Office is where you stash away all the old baby clothes, and then pull them out again each time the baby comes, informing all your younger siblings: oh, this was mine, originally. Or: I remember when you wore this. You were so little then.
The Basement Office is where you discover a petticoat and silky white flats from your mother's wedding; where you find old quilts and storybooks, and that picnic basket from the Fourth of July ages ago. 
 The Basement Office is full of musty old secrets, locked up like dad's old hunting guns. Many of which whose day has passed, but are safely tucked away until it might come in handy once more.
The Basement Office is a place of nostalgia and anticipation.
The 1980s beige refrigerator joined this happy land of cobwebs and Christmas wrapping paper.
And every trip with the grocery store included sorting out bags whose contents would stay upstairs, in the pantry proper, and which would be sent down to the food storage units that popped up around that lonely refrigerator like a medieval village around a cathedral.
My sister and I would often be the children assigned the task of bringing the groceries down to the Downstairs Refrigerator (as Old Mr. Beige Faithful began to be called).
And somehow, we discovered that we could take advantage of all the food at our fingertips and turn Grocery-Putting-Away-Time into Snack Time. 
As any six-year-old knows, snack time is the best time.
Meal times are okay. But they are usually healthy food times.
Snack time is a time for chaos.
It is a time for Wonderbread and butter, fruit snacks, Ritz Bits, Gushers, and all the foods which are just sugar masquerading under variegated guises.
During our own personal and never-ending snack time, I remember my sister and I once, throughout the course of a week, going through an entire package of pepperoni that had been relegated to the Downstairs Refrigerator.
There it began its days, and there they ended.
Together, we polished off an entire package of pepperoni.
We were disgusting little blighters, that's for sure.

I thought of this adorable little childhood episode when my mother sent me down to the downstairs refrigerator to get tofu and egg roll wrappers.
Peeled out of the comfortable, happy recesses of the sofa by her command, I wandered down to the refrigerator with my head still caught up in the happy world of Oxford, spun into being through Dorothy Sayers' lovely prose. My mind was more focused on the task of solving literary murder than finding tofu. Absentmindedly, I opened a drawer in the refrigerator. 
There, I was greeted my an impertinently familiar package of pepperoni.
Instantly, all the memories I just related sprung back into my head.
And I am somewhat enamored with memory, so I decided to write all that down.
Now, back to the sofa and to Oxford.

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