The Beauty of Fridges (engl. Originalversion der Kolumne in der htr vom 26.11.2015)
My boyfriend strides down the row of the fridges, eliminating options like a professional sniper. «Too tall. Too expensive. Too energy-consumptive. Too loud.» He stops at the end. «What about this one?»
Due to a complicated process of lending, borrowing, and swapping possessions, he’s ended up owing me a fridge. I’m not entirely surprised he’s stopped here. It’s the cheapest fridge in the store, if not the world. A stunted, plastic box of unattractiveness. If it were one of the dwarves in «Snow White», it would be called «Ugly». No self-respecting Moët would be seen dead inside it.Bending low, I open the flimsy little freezer box. I don’t need a crystal ball to know what it’ll be like in a month’s time. The catch will be broken, the interior will be a tiny snow cave that only a seal with razor-sharp teeth could get into. My icecubes will taste stale, my vodka will be tepid, and my favourite frozen spinach curries will be mush.
«NO.» I speak so loudly that «Hello My Name is Boris» stops scratching his tattoos and rushes to help us. «You’re interested in…» he hesitates – «that?» My boyfriend nods. «Compact. Cost-efficient. Perfect.»If you say «Good choice, sir», I think, staring at Boris, I’ll punch you.Thankfully Boris, like most Berlin shop assistants, is brutally honest. «Not a good choice, sir. Very poor reviews. Too cramped.» «But Sarah loves small fridges!» My boyfriend turns to me. «You always want to take mini-bars home with you, don’t you?»
I’m amazed. How can anyone not see the difference between a stupid dwarfish fridge and a glorious hotel mini-bar? A mini-bar with its cute bottles of undrinkable Malibu, and its lumpy vacuum-packed peanuts, and its reassuringly ever-present Toblerone, and the fact you can take out whatever you want and never have to restock it or clean it?I march back to where the fridges are of a respectable height and the price tags are double. My boyfriend follows nervously. «I thought you had zero interest in domestic appliances.»
«Exactly,» I snap. «The stove, oven and washing machine give me no pleasure at all, so at least let me enjoy my fridge.»As we leave the shop, my boyfriend suggests an ingenious plan. «You can have my fridge. I don’t need one. I’d rather shop for fresh produce every day.»I gape. Ten-hour working days, three kids, and two ailing parents means that his shopping is done at top speed at the nearest Lidl at 11.55 pm. He exits at midnight laden with family-size milk, stacks of processed cheese, mountains of meat, and what I think of as «Optimistic Vegetables» that shrivel and die in the fridge drawer and are thrown away three weeks later. «No,» I repeat. Suddenly, fiercely, I want my own fridge: a brand-new, silently humming beauty whose interior has never come into contact with mouldering salami.
Later that night, I find it. Pale-blue, glossy, tall, elegant, embossed with a respectably old German brand-name. With no Boris to equivocate and no boyfriend to naysay, it takes just a minute to click and buy. Sitting at my computer, I daydream of how the door will close with a satisfyingly heavy thunk, and how fabulous Grey Goose on ice will taste pulled from my very own baby-blue chilling heaven.