The fridge supremacy July 28, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Tags: domestic, fridge
It’s hard being usurped by a fridge.
Again, I am unsure if this is an age-related matter, but the balance of power in the BiB household has gradually but irrevocably been reversed. And it ain’t in my favour. Boringly, this is partly a money thing. While I plod away doing as little work as possible to pay the bills and leave me enough time – say, 20 hours a day – for blog-related pursuits, the Russian has been raking it in. He’s bought a second solid-gold helicopter now because he didn’t like the propeller on the first one. Honestly, some folk just have TOO much money.
Whereas, in days of yore, I was the one called upon to be grown-up in times of need – booking plane tickets, organising visas, doing the washing-up – I feel that, rather like M. Chirac on the political scene in France, I have taken a back seat while the Russian has sarkozied up out of nowhere and stolen the show. Whereas I used to be the one doing the urbanity, keeping the small talk going on tricky social occasions, I now see folk – this is EXCLUSIVELY the case if homosexuals are involved – looking over my shoulder and thinking, “When’s the gobby one gonna shut up so we can look at the pretty Russian in peace and quiet?” Wicked, cruel age. As my appearance hurtles out of control downhill towards a point of no return, the Russian is in the very blossom of his strengths, as his countrymen would say. As I discover new aches, pains and ailments, the Russian blooms with vigour and bounce. I plod. He has élan.
Wealth undeniably has its uses. I was wealthy once, just as we moved to Berlin, in fact. Not earned wealth, of course. No, inherited. And, better still, from someone still very much alive, and praise be for that. I thought, for a fraction of an inkling, about doing sensible things like paying off debts, ceremonially cutting up credit cards and investing the rest. Instead, and with considerable assistance from my Russian companion, I might add, I pissed it up the wall in a matter of months on booze, restaurants and a ludicrously lavish trip to Thailand. The debts are bigger and better than ever they were. My wallet still bristles with money-swallowing credit cards. I cringe at family occasions when I remind myself that siblings’ spouses must secretly, through the smiles, be thinking, “Give me back my money”.
In spite of my windfall, I did, for a few weeks, stick to my frugal aims of purchasing sensibly. Arriving in Berlin from abroad, and renting a new flat, meant purchases galore. Rented flats here are empty. Light-fittings don’t even come included. You have to buy the works. One day, as the Russian settled into life at university, I took the chance for a bit of frugality by going and purchasing domestic appliances alone. My mother would have been so proud of the deal I got for the second-hand washing-machine and fridge. And I was proud at having managed to complete the transaction knowing twelve words of Deutsch. A big, cuddly Pole delivered the items the same day. Slavic brotherhood meant we managed to communicate in a combination of invented Russian – him – and invented Polish – me. Everyone came away happy. He probably bear-hugged me on the way out.
The items were not the dernier cri by any means. Both appliances, while basically white, had a generous lashing of socialist brown in their palette. I think the washing-machine was the cleansing branch of the Trabant dynasty. The fridge was made in Turkmenistan. In the 17th century. The brand was called something along the lines of Red Yurt. But they served their purpose. As I frothed with enthusiasm to the Russian as he traipsed in from the world of academia, he looked a hint disappointed to have been transported straight back to the Soviet Union. “But, darling, they were CHEAP!” I said, becoming my mother. (My mother once bought an East German blender in London because it was cheap at a second-hand shop. It was, inevitably, brown. And now sits, no doubt full of asbestos and pumping out carcinogens to the best of its ability, untouched and unused in the most inaccessible cupboard in her kitchen.)
The fridge broke in minutes. The cuddly Pole came and took it away under one arm. It was returned to us, brownly, some weeks later. And splutteringly kept things reasonably cool from that day till almost this. But Red Yurt struggled with this summer. It let out plaintive thuds throughout the night, no doubt keeping the neighbours awake and making them moan about the foreign poofs next door. I thought we could plod frugally along with it until it got its breath back in the autumn, but the Russian decided that it had to go. A brand new one was to be purchased. He got his staff onto it. The decision went to a spanking, huge, gleaming thing. As white as the whitest building on earth, that cathedral in spotless Helsinki. Not a sniff of brown in sight.
D-day was today. At crack of dawn, the doorbell rang. I had already languidly shuffled ‘my’ fridge sorrily into the corridor. I pressed the buzzer and then made way for the Russian to do the grown-up part of the transaction. He and the men had manly talk about good fridges and bad fridges. They probably had a quick shot of Jägermeister. I stayed apologetically out of sight and got on with some embroidery.
And there it sits, in our formerly humble kitchen that any suburban housewife with a four-wheel drive would now be proud to call her own. Further testament to my diminution in day-to-day matters in the BiB household. The Russian will fling open the door with aplomb at every breakfast. I will sink apologetically into my chair and ask if I’m allowed a second Brötchen. The Russian will huff and call his staff to have some more rolls flown in from Paris.
It’s hard being usurped by a fridge.