I’m not generally scared of major household appliances. But we bought a fancy new fridge last week and, as it sits in all its stainless steel, bottom freezer, silent glory, it’s forced me to think quite hard about what it means.
We kept the old fridge — a battered thing from 1989 — because it worked fine. Then it started freezing food on the top shelf. I work too damn hard to earn the money to buy the food to throw it out uneaten. Time for a new fridge.
Luckily, only one fit the space. I hate shopping and all those endless choices. Exhausting!
It is deeply luxurious. (It’s not one of the $5,000 Sub-Zeros). It is new. It cost more than our mortgage payment.
It makes me feel rich. I am not sure I want to feel rich.
How un-American is that? Here’s why the fridge — as a symbol of affluence and ease and comfort — makes me nervous. Many people take those things deeply for granted, while others are losing their jobs and homes and living in their cars.
The issue at hand? I don’t ever want to be the person who simply takes beauty and ease and luxury as my due, as something I deserve.
Life so often dishes out things none of us “deserve” — terrible accidents or terminal illness or serial job loss. Sometimes all of these. So what happens when you’re fortunate or lucky enough to be able to afford such luxury? Do we deserve it any more than we deserve our terrible misfortunes?
I love the new fridge and will enjoy it, I hope, for years.
Like the humming black monolith in “2001”, one of my favorite films ever, though, this new item in our home has had an unsettling and unexpected effect on both me and the sweetie. It makes me, like the film’s apes, want to throw a bone into the air when I see it.
It elicits some primal, little-felt feelings in me.
And I thought I was just buying a new appliance…