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The fridge supremacy July 28, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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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.

Comments»

1. Wyndham - July 28, 2006

I had already languidly shuffled my fridge – is this some kind of metaphor, Bib?

2. GreatSheElephant - July 28, 2006

so the russian isn’t a student any more?

3. BiB - July 29, 2006

Wyndham, darling, what a nice thought. But I’m much too dim for metaphors. But ‘shuffling the fridge’ needs to now become code for something. Masturbation leapt to mind, obviously, but it doesn’t work quite, does it? Any alternatives for what it could mean? (Images of masturbation have now been replaced by images of dead folk.) (Oh dear.)

GSE, no, in good German fashion, he should still be studying for about another twenty years, and to then be qualified to do a job which he can already do. As a Russky, his work chances here are very limited. You can only work a certain number of days etc. So I’m afraid I can’t sit back on my laurels and retire on his money just yet. This oasis of wealth is just a blip.

4. GreatSheElephant - July 29, 2006

well, I think you should get him to buy you a present with his temporary wealth, something a little more thrilling than a fridge. Although having said that, at present I want to live in my fridge to avoid the hideous humidity in this flat (heat and humidity – so nice in a flat with a twin seater litter tray).

5. BiB - July 29, 2006

A present! Another nice idea. To be honest, I feel like being someone else for a while. Can you buy someone else’s personality?

6. GreatSheElephant - July 29, 2006

that sounds like the start of a rather creepy thriller…

sounds like you need a weekend break – mine did me a world of good…

7. BiB - July 29, 2006

…and glad to hear it.

Yes, a break from Berlin would be nice. I can’t remember when I last left the place. Mind you, the title of this blog is rather apposite at the moment, so I’ll have to wait for the next undefined payday before any plans can be made. Guests to look forward to in August, though. That will be a good and refreshing change.

8. June* - July 30, 2006

If you’d like, I return to theStates on Thursday. I might have room in my trunk for someone in need of a weekend away.

I’ll ship you Fed-Ex overnight to get you back while saving money.

9. BiB - July 30, 2006

That would be bliss, but, damn, I’ve got guests coming, so had better stay here with them. Bon voyage, and give England – even if it is only Heathrow – a fond kiss for me.

10. Bowleserised - July 30, 2006

Ah BiB! Only you could make a short story out of a new fridge! Lovely!

11. BiB - July 30, 2006

Darling B., thank you. We do our best with what little we have…

12. chendaberry - July 31, 2006

Dunno how old the Russian is, but I have this theory that men (not too old ones though) from former Socialist bzw. Communist states are precisely the ones who get way too overexcited by gadgetery. Ths could be why we have a Roku sound bridge sitting in the living room where the CD player (or even record player, if I were given half a chance) should be. It plays songs straight from the server, don’t you know. And the sound quality is better than from a CD which is why it’s so important. Darned if I know how to find anything I want to hear on it though. At least with a fridge, the operating instructions are fairly clear. Just you wait until the Russian really starts getting geared up…

13. BiB - July 31, 2006

Chen, I COULD NOT AGREE MORE. Although I had wondered if it was a Soviet thing, but I clearly haven’t had enough exposure to Ossi males. We had the Ukrainian husband of a friend to visit once and I’m sure he and the Russian broke their ice by talking constantly, or, better still, actually manipulating, either a computer or mobile phone. (Do Ossi men also like to repair things which aren’t broken? You know, to improve them? I did hear the Russian HAMMERING in the environs of the new fridge. I thought I’d go into the kitchen and see that he’d attached something brown to it for the sake of appearances, but I still don’t know what it was all about. Too scared to ask in case it puts me into an ungovernable rage.)

A sound bridge? I’ve never heard of those. From the server? Can you check your e-mail on it too, or, better still, blog from it? (You must take the plunge!) Oddly, the fridge is playing a little bit hard to get. I mean, the instructions are straightforward enough. Open door, take out cold thing etc. But the bastard doesn’t like opening. I’ll get the hang of it eventually.

14. BiB - July 31, 2006

No-one knows what configuration means and is only pretending if they claim to. I don’t think it actually means anything at all, but must be an environment-protecting device aiming to discourage people from abusing their gadgets.

Sometimes the Russian buys pretty gadgets. I have no idea what they’re for, but there was a time when a mouse-like thing that lit up used to stick out of a socket at the front of the computer. I never knew its purpose, but it gleamed nicely, and then one day disappeared, never to be seen again.

My one concession to all this is that I am occasionally known to loiter lovingly by handsome motorbikes. Mind you, I’m terrified the owner will see me adoring it and want to chat with me about it and ask if I think he should get one with more bhp or something. I only like them because they’re pretty, although maybe I’d secretly like to be able to ride one. (The Russian and I both less secretly do want mopeds, but I fell off mine the only time I’ve ever ridden one, in Spain, natch, aged 2.)

15. chendaberry - July 31, 2006

Ho hum, surely the door opening part is rather essential? Maybe the Russian couldn’t get it open either? Hence the hammer? Does it now look like it’s been savaged?

A sound bridge (I think) only plays music from a computer in another part of the house. The biggest problem being that the display is teeny and tends to say things like ‘change library or configuration’, to which I have no answer or hope of finding out what to do.

I think it’s an Ostblock thing. There’s no one with a more capitalist taste for gadgetery than the M. Thanks for understanding, Bib, makes me feel a whole lot better.

16. chendaberry - August 1, 2006

Wow, you two are like M rolled into one. Or two. Or whatever, you know what I mean. M lives for computer/hifi/other gadgets and motorbikes. You’re welcome to come by and gaze lovingly at his one (as the actress said to the bishop…). It is huge and makes an alarmingly loud throbbing/growling noise once switched on (might as well continue in the suggestive vein now I’ve got started). It makes the pushchair wielding mamas of prenzlauer berg dash to their infants and cover said infants’ ears. Which makes me giggle to myself. Though doubtless one day I’ll be tutting and grumbling along with the best of them. If motherhood ever catches up with me that is…

17. daggi - August 1, 2006

At least you can live your fridge-crises personally, I just get phone calls telling me that mine “is very hot and doesn’t seem to be working” and I panic about it leaking all over the place and through three flats’ ceilings…

18. BiB - August 1, 2006

Chen, I’m sure you’ll be a wonderful mother… And the M sounds awfully manly. (We poofs like our men traditional.)

Daggi, does this mean you didn’t find someone to sublet for your absence? Mind you, whenever we’ve entrusted someone with our keys, they’ve inevitable flooded the neighbours or broken everything, so an empty place is probably safer.


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