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Zan Thompson

The Day That the Icebox Man Cometh

February 02, 1986|ZAN THOMPSON

Patsy, Mrs. Goldfarb and Peaches had an active Saturday. I was away for the weekend and the brave little threesome faced life at home. As all of you know who spend much time at home, it is not the unruffled pool of calm you might think.

This was a Saturday that was to be devoted to renewing appliances, namely a refrigerator and a wall furnace. We purchased a new refrigerator the other day, the old one being a battle-scarred veteran that was purchased when Doug and I lived in La Habra Heights about 15 years ago. I remembered the wonder of it all when the man told us that the freezer would defrost itself, quietly tidying up 24 hours a day, maintaining a dry field for all of the little gift-wrapped packages of turkey dressing and chicken divan.

I do not understand why I wrote that last sentence to make it sound as if Doug had been with me when the refrigerator was selected. His interest in domestic machinery was nonexistent. Actually, he was not of a mechanical bent. When he would get the ice trays back in the freezer straight, Tim and I would stand back and applaud, saying, "Oh, look what Daddy did." Doug accepted the plaudits as if he had just split the atom. His attitude was that if men were meant to cope with refrigerators, God wouldn't have had them marry. He was not demanding or unfeeling. It simply never occurred to him that he might put a tray back without jamming it in on an angle and thrusting his shoulder against the refrigerator.

This refrigerator had given yeoman service. When Patsy got up Saturday morning, she called the store where we bought it and the new one and tried to find out when the delivery truck would arrive, hoping to avoid sitting like Sister Ann at the tower window watching for the dust arising.

She spoke by actual count to eight different telephone numbers, some of them answered by real people (a rarity) and most of them by tapes. She said please and thank you to all the numbers, hating herself for being unable to stop being charming to tapes. She also says that during the calls, she heard the entire score of "Blossom Time."

She started to empty the old refrigerator and scatter small bowls around the kitchen, which thoroughly amazed Peaches and Mrs. Goldfarb who, incidentally, is an aged white cat. Before she had it emptied, she heard the growl of the delivery truck in the driveway.

Peaches has the personality of a Welcome Wagon lady and hurled herself against the front door in her welcoming charge. Mrs. Goldfarb, on the other hand, is not friendly to strangers. We think this is because she was raised with three Samoyeds who used to chew on her and with four children who dragged her around in a doll buggy. Her advancing years have gentled her somewhat, but she will never be named Miss Hospitable Cat in our block.

Peaches and Patsy went to the front door and welcomed the refrigerator man. They had a long conversation about which door it would be best to wrestle the new one in and the old one out.

Then the man went out to get the refrigerator. Patsy ran back and forth from the old refrigerator to the kitchen counters, carrying her endless supply of small bowls of stuff better left unremembered. When the refrigerator man came back, Mrs. Goldfarb walked sternly over and bit him on the Achilles' tendon. This is something she learned from the Samoyeds and she bites with a right good will. She did not like the idea of the refrigerator man taking anything from her refrigerator.

While Patsy was running to get a bandage for the man--explaining all the while about Goldfarb's really rotten kittenhood--our old friend Bob Miner came in the front gate to fix the wall furnace. Peaches seized the opportunity to run through the gate and down the hill, which is forbidden. Patsy ran after her, calling, "Come here, dearest Peaches. Come to Patsy." That is only an approximation of what she said, actually.

When Peaches was rounded up like a recalcitrant steer, the three of them, Peaches, Bob Miner and Patsy, went upstairs to see about the wall furnace.

The refrigerator man saw his chance and split like a deer, making a wide circle of Mrs. Goldfarb.

Upstairs, Peaches and Patsy sat on the bed while Bob hunkered down and tried to light the pilot a number of times. Finally, he turned to Patsy and said, "It doesn't work."

"That," Patsy said sweetly, "is what I told you." Bob removed the wall furnace and marched off with wires trailing and Peaches and Patsy took a nap. After all, they were already on the bed.

Mrs. Goldfarb does not go upstairs. Heights make her cranky and she can achieve that state without leaving ground level.

I must say, the new refrigerator looks very shiny and tidy. Of course you have figured out by now that Patsy threw away the contents of all those little bowls after working so hard to save them.

Mrs. Goldfarb is feeling more sociable and only chewed on my shoe a little when I got home. Now, Patsy has found the real meaning of a day in the home. She'll be glad to get back to her lawyers' office where her life with 15 lawyers is so restful.

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