Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Day the Music Died

When Phil and I bought this little house back in 2001, it came with a "newly remodeled kitchen." This included the standard appliance package that comes with every new slapped-up house in our area: the side-by-side fridge with ice-in-door, the smooth-top electric range, the dishwasher that you need to pre-wash and post-wash dishes in order to use. Although we've moaned about the appliances for five years, with the exception of the dishwasher they've done their job, so we haven't replaced them. But I've eyed lovely gas ranges and freezer-below fridges, waiting for the day something would break down.

This weekend a blighted star hung over our house. First, our lawn mower took a nosedive, and Phil had to take it to the repair shop and then go to our neighbor, hat somewhat in hand, asking to use her mower so that we wouldn't look the folks on the street with the car engine hanging from a tree and peat moss for sale in the driveway. Then we had Phil's sister over and the la Croix didn't feel as cold as it should; the next day we paid a premium for a Sunday repairman to pronounce the refrigerator's imminent demise-by-compressor. Later that day we realized our 12-year-old cat hadn't been seen for hours, and I was fairly certain, based on our weekend track record, she'd dragged herself into the crawlspace to expire. You'll be relieved to know Billie's alive and well and not waiting for me to find her rotting corpse.

With the fridge barely keeping things cold enough to avoid e Coli, and having only a couple days left of even that limited performance, we packed up the boys and went to the appliance megastore. I wasn't in the mood to lay down serious cash, but this was the opportunity to get the amazing, Barefoot Contessa-worthy fridge I'd dreamed of, so tried to ignore the checkbook balance and just enjoy the moment. I wasn't expecting a Subzero or Viking, mind you. That would be greedy. But I did immediately gravitate to a KitchenAid with huge doors, a massive freezer on the bottom, and a slick stainless steel interior. I have, after all, really enjoyed cooking food lately. And I've always enjoyed eating food. So it really was essential.

What we found, however, is that we don't live in a spacious house in the Hamptons. We live in a 1950s Cape Cod with small rooms and tight spaces. And no fridge on my first-tier list could remotely fit the space without knocking out some of already spare cabinets. In fact, no fridge on my second tier fit the space either. I refused to buy the brand that had konked out on us, which the repairman said was notorious for compressor failure (clue: the brand rhymes with "Meneral Nelectric"). So what we ended up with was a very modest, side-by-side fridge with ice-in-door that almost exactly resembles the much maligned fridge we were replacing, save for one major detail: It's got much less space. Which makes the half a grass-fed cow I just reserved with my friend Carla seem very, very large.

To cheer myself, I'm dreaming of the day the smooth-top electric stove will finally bite the dust and we can get an enormous eight-burner, dual-oven Viking to put in its place.

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