Dad made Mom a cocktail and they came up with a compromise. We were about to go away for a week’s summer vacation, staying in a cabin in the state forest. We would all go out to dinner tonight, and eat quick meals tomorrow while we were packing. When we got back he would spend all that Sunday looking at the fridge (cross-his-heart) and if he couldn’t fix it she could call repair on Monday. Mom agreed.
The state forest was fun, a week of books to read, trails to hike, trees to climb and a lake out the backdoor to go swimming in any time I wanted. We packed up Saturday morning to head home.
We pulled into the driveway around 3pm and I wanted to finish my book but had to help unpack. I was sorting clothes out of duffels for laundry when I heard my mom call from the kitchen “Is there power?”
I flipped the bedroom light on. “There is in here” I called back. I started walking to the kitchen where Mom was unpacking what was left of the food we brought, noticing for the first time how very quiet it was because I could hear Mom mumbling to herself; “Actually the light is on, and there’s still some ice, and - oh no.” Mom slumped at the counter.
“Mom, what is it?”
“I knew we should have fixed the refrigerator before we left – go get your Dad.”
I ran out to the garage where Dad was putting outdoor gear away. “Dad come quick, Mom needs you in the kitchen.”
He slumped a little too, just his shoulders, before he went into the house.
“Marcia, what is it?”
“Our refrigerator is dead.”
“Things in the freezer still have some ice crystals on them, but nothing is frozen solid. The refrigerator itself is still a little cool but I don’t trust it.”
Dad sighed. “ I thought that fan had another week in it. I guess it only had five days.”
Mom glared at him.
“We’ll be okay, what’s in the cooler is still good.”
“Roger we can’t re-freeze the meat, what are we supposed to do with it?”
Dad grinned. “Throw a barbecue.”
“I’ll start the grill; you pull out the meat and see what we’ve got. Erin run to all the neighbors, tell them what’s up and invite them over.”
Mom put a hand on my shoulder and I stood between them wondering who was going to yell first.
Instead Mom started to laugh, a lot. “Why not? We don’t have much except meat so ask the neighbors to bring buns and sides too.”
My parents started pulling things out of the freezer and refrigerator and planning our impromptu party. I ran to the Sampson’s house first, our closest neighbors. I knocked on the door and Mrs. Annie answered. I told her about our refrigerator and the plan for eating up the food.
“Oh your poor mother, she complained about that fan for weeks. Let me run over and see what you’ve got so I can figure out what to bring. I’ll tell Richie to bring over our lawn chairs and the plastic table, we’ll make it work.”
I kept knocking on the doors in my neighborhood. Every place that someone answered they shook their heads about our luck and said they’d come, in fact most people were at our house before I made it back myself. I stepped into our back yard which was full of people; and when I looked inside our kitchen had six ladies in it, all discussing what we would have for sides in the many Tupperware containers and sending various kids running back to their houses for one more thing. Mom saw me and waved me over.
“Here Erin, have an ice cream cone.”
“It’ll melt if we save it for after, and most folks have already had one.”
That night we ate outside on paper plates, with mismatched silverware from three houses. All of the food was good, even if very little of it made sense together, everyone had brought over their leftovers. We sat in lawn chairs from all over the neighborhood and there weren’t enough tables but people just ate on their knees. Old Mrs. Rhode who rarely came outside was even there making batch after batch of her homemade lemonade for everyone. It was a great night.
So that’s the story of how our old refrigerator died. It’s why I need next weekend off; the neighborhood still has a block party every summer to remember that night. It’s a little more organized now, they rent tables and chairs from the VFW and people sign up to bring side-dishes. It’s awesome. After all, how often do you get to eat your ice cream first?
*** LJ Idol continues - read all the other entries here.***