Monday, September 03, 2012

Nothing gold can stay

When my husband and I bought the house that we currently live in - which, incidentally, is the ONLY house either of us have ever bought - we also purchased an Amana refrigerator. Being young, naive, and mostly not-wealthy-at-all, it was a simple vanilla, no-frills refrigerator with the freezer on the top, and no automatic ice maker, no cold water, or no fancy anything. I selected it to be in white because, um, that's just what you did. Every refrigerator I ever had growing up was white. All my friends' refrigerators were white. They were just.... white. Always. I didn't even know that there was an option to, say, oh, MATCH COLORS with the appliances that came with the house (all of which were - of course- black). We have happily lived with our plain vanilla white refrigerator (and unmatching black everything else) for a long time - long enough to evolve from newlyweds to having a high school junior as of tomorrow (gah! That's a whole other blog post). The refrigerator is still functioning perfectly fine - never a maintenance call once. It has proudly displayed baby photos, toddler drawings, and postcards from friends throughout the years. President Obama has lived there in his magnetic glory, hilariously changing hats and wigs and podium signs as needed. School schedules, baseball, volleyball league and band schedules, doctor's appointment reminders, and business cards have graced its front. It has shown me family Christmas card photos from friends all over the US throughout the years and even occasionally has held to-do lists or shopping needs on the occasions when I was attempting to be organized. It has kept our food fresh and cool - from frozen dinners to milk for babies to applesauce for toddlers to mac and cheese for kids and pizza for teenagers and wine for mom.

However, now it is getting some ugly rusty looking spots on it, and occasionally, water will drip from the top of the refrigerator section when I open the door. For the most part, I didn't notice the rusty spots much, but the dripping water and a cracked produce drawer bugged me. So we decided to go shopping for a new refrigerator this weekend.

Things have been moving right along in the refrigerator business over the last 18 years while we have been blissfully unaware. Freezers have moved from the top to the side, to the bottom, and the newest greatest thing is a french-door style opening to a fridge with the freezer on the bottom with the availability of crushed ice and a cold water dispenser on the front door. Wandering through Lowes and Home Depot, I was overwhelmed. I could understand the reasoning behind the excitement of locating the freezer on the bottom, though I didn't buy into it 100% (e.g., you've got to either break your back bending over to rummage through light produce in a produce drawer or through unwieldy and heavy frozen veggies in a bottom freezer. I figured I'd rather opt for the lighter, non-finger-freezing accompaniment to the breaking back). But here's the deal. The bottom freezer options were approximately twice the cost as the top freezer options. So obviously I must be wrong.

I was confused. There was a product that I actually preferred that cost WAY less than the other option. So of course my reaction was to assume I was wrong. I made us go home to research online a little more. I compared energy efficiencies. I weighed my options. I fretted and fretted and ultimately became brave and proclaimed that I honestly liked the idea of having my freezer on the top. Also? I didn't care about crushed ice. Collective gasp. (A cold water dispenser, I could see. But crushed ice? Seriously?)

I realized I was just narrowly avoiding being taken in. If the media tells me I need a fancy stainless steel refrigerator that makes my breakfast for me and tells me when to let the dog out, then by god, I must NEEEEEED it, right? Believe me, I'm more than happy to jump on the fad bandwagon if there's something I see that I honestly can't live without. But more and more, I'm realizing that what the media tells me I must have and what my soul requires are not very similar. I am the proud owner of an IPAD II that is used exclusively for playing Words with Friends. I sometimes use it to play words with friends while I'm sitting in my home office beside my computer. But everyone else told me it was the best thing since sliced bread, so I decided it must be so. Right?

We are a very consumer-oriented society. There are some very very good parts of being part of a capitalist society. There are also some pitfalls that sneak up on you before you realize it. Is it really in everyone's best interest to buy a home rather than rent? Do we all really need IPADs? Are top-freezer refrigerators really past vogue? Does profit trump altruism? How much propaganda should we be forced to endure during a single day? How can we assure we aren't brainwashed?

We purchased a refrigerator with the freezer on the top and a cold water dispenser without the crushed ice option. It is a very nice color of black. It will arrive in approximately 2 months from now, during which I must endure the suddenly rust-infested, ugly, last-legs monstrosity of a refrigerator my poor old one has suddenly become. Everything is perception, especially in capitalism.

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 
- Robert Frost