My refrigerator: Commercial, see-through, and the best thing about my kitchen


(Mattias Lundin)

You are enormous, noisy and so deliciously cold. I can see right through you. And I love all that about you.

You, True Model TS-49, had me at adjustable vinyl-coated wire shelves.

I’ve known refrigerators in my day. Had issues with all of them. The plastic egg trays, the dumb drawers, the laughable freezer storage, the elusive replacement light bulbs, the temperature settings from 0 to 10. As if. The doors on those high-end iceboxes that close with a vacuum so fierce, you have to wait a minute before you can open them again — and by that time, you’ve forgotten why you wanted to.

I digress.

Packing 49 cubic square feet, you can handle everything I throw at you: flats of soda cans, cases of beer, Lexan containers of flours and nuts, full-size watermelons, sides of salmon, pizza boxes, the occasional Blue Angels F/A-18-shaped birthday cake — simultaneously.


Bonnie Benwick's refrigerator. (Bonnie Benwick/FTWP)

It’s not lost on me that when I finally found you and brought you home, it was to the smallest kitchen I’ve ever owned. So what if I had to annex the back third of a garage to accommodate you? You anchored what became a much-needed walk-in pantry, and your hum, which is more pronounced than Glenn Gould’s during a Bach concerto, is reduced to a purr once I shut the pantry door. Privacy for you, peace for my dinner guests.

It took a while to get used to that hum, which cycles on and off with a shudder. It was an audible reminder of your impact on my Pepco bill. As a result, I learned how to save on household energy in other ways. (Even distribution of air conditioning is overrated.)

When my sons were in garage-band mode, teenage wolf packs seemed to move in and out at all hours. They were a Bethesda species, accustomed to creature comforts. Yet you seldom failed to impress them. They would stand before you, slack-jawed, gazing through your double-paned glass doors at the options to stanch hunger and thirst.

And when your light switch was flipped on at night? “It’s like at 7-Eleven!” they marveled. I’m pretty sure they were referring to you, and not the contents within.

Although I might not have mentioned this to you directly, I have appreciated right-hand shelf No. 3, in particular. That’s where dozens of condiments and preserves and oils and Mason jars of vanilla beans have incubated over months and years, while I monitored their quality and rates of decline for a book I might never complete. You kept them at constant temperatures that averaged an impressive 40 degrees. Your handy exterior gauge let me know.

There’s something else I haven’t told you. Chances are good that the house will go on the market once the front-yard phlox is in full bloom, and that you will . . . convey. You’re the best thing that kitchen has to offer.

Wistful doesn’t begin to cover it. We could have had so many more years together. I doubt I’ll be able to take you with me wherever I move; in a fit of anthropomorphic projection, the scene plays in my head a little like the one in “Out of Africa” when Meryl Streep breaks it to a Kikuyu household cook that no, he cannot travel with her back to Denmark.

“There are no refrigerators where you are going, Memsahib?”

You must trust me about this, True TS-49.

If you live in the Washington area and would like to strike up a True refrigerator relationship of your own, contact Curtis Equipment, 5516 Colorado Ave. NW, 202-244-1839.

Bonnie S. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew ... Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes: washingtonpost.com/recipes.
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