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The Secret in the Freezer (and Other Scandals)

by Rose Madeline Mula


Last night I jolted awake from a sound sleep, panicked that I might suffer a sudden heart attack or speech-robbing stroke before daylight. A distressing concern any time, of course — but especially last night. Why? Because of what relatives or friends might find in my freezer after I was taken away.

No, I hadn’t murdered and dismembered my nosy neighbor and hidden her body parts there (not that I haven’t been tempted at times). Nor were any packages of mystery meat or other unidentified fossilized foods tucked way back in the corners as testimony of my sloppy housekeeping. And neither was I hiding a secret stash of vodka.

So what was I afraid they’d find? A shoe, stuffed with a plastic bag of ice and sheathed in two grocery bags.

I can hear them now:

“I knew she was losing it, but this is ridiculous!”

“Was she planning to defrost it for dinner?”

“Maybe someone told her to cool her heels and she took it literally.”

“Tsk! Tsk! Poor Rosie.”

Actually, I had a perfectly logical reason for filing footwear in the freezer; but if I were struck dead or speechless, I’d never be able to explain that I was simply implementing a tip I had read the day before about how to stretch a too-tight shoe — i.e., put some water in a plastic bag, seal it, stuff the bag into the shoe, and put it in the freezer overnight. As the water in the bag freezes and expands, it will enlarge the shoe.

See. Not crazy, after all. Brilliant, actually; because it worked.

And that got me thinking about other stuff I’d hate to have anyone discover if I’m suddenly whisked away:

My junk drawer in my kitchen, for instance, which is crammed with, well, junk.

“What in heaven’s name is this rusty thing-a-ma-jig?” they’d ponder. (I don’t know either. I’ve had it for years and never figured out what it was. But I didn’t want to throw it out because I might need it some day.)

“A meat thermometer — yeah, like she ever cooked a roast.”

“Look, a garlic press. Just last week she told me she wanted one for her birthday. She obviously didn’t realize she already had one.”

Not to mention the broken corkscrew … the turkey baster (“Roast a turkey? Rosie? Right.”) … the flashlight with the corroded batteries … the hammer with the loose handle (So that’s where those are! I’ve been looking for them for years!) …

And the kitchen isn’t the only room in the house I’d be embarrassed to have submitted to post-mortem scrutiny. A visit to the dining room, would soon expose the shameful fact that I haven’t polished my silverware in eons. (Trust me. I’m sure there are eating utensils somewhere under all that tarnish.)

In the living room, they would wonder anew why I still have a piano and all those music books.

“She was delusional — kept saying she was going to start practicing and playing again; but, to be fair, she never specified in which lifetime.”

The bedroom would reveal a further shocker. No, not a drawer full of sex toys, but a closet full of should-be castoffs.

“Ninety percent of this stuff should have gone to Goodwill — fifty years ago! What was she saving it all for?”

“She was right when she used to say she had nothing to wear — nothing here is fit to wear, that’s for sure!”

“And size 8 jeans! Probably the last time she was able to get into these was when she was twelve!” Wrong. When I was twelve, girls didn’t wear jeans. Just ladylike dresses and skirts. In fact, I never wore the size 8 jeans. I bought them as an incentive ten years ago when I was starting a new diet. I’m still waiting to squeeze into them — which might happen after I master the piano.

“You think the stuff in the closet is bad? Take a look at her costume jewelry collection…. ‘Costume’ is right — Halloween is the only time I’d wear it — and then only if I covered it with a ghost sheet!”

“Okay, who’s going to look under the bed?”

“Not me. I just poked my foot there, and I swear something moved. Anything could be living there …”

“Hey! Check out this linen closet. She’s got frayed towels here dating back to the royal wedding — Albert and Victoria’s!”

“Seven bottles of hair color! And no two are the same brand or shade. CVS must have had a sale of leftovers.”

All this is bad enough, but pales in comparison to what they’ll say when they get to my office/den/guestroom. The mere fact that this room serves three functions makes it a natural repository for a hodgepodge of “stuff” (that’s the only word for it).

Hand weights and an exercise ball (all never used, by the way) … a pile of disorganized papers as high as Everest on the computer desk (yes, there really is a computer buried there, too — keep digging) … more papers strewn on the sofa bed and coffee table…books tumbling out of bookcases … a broken VCR blinking twelve o’clock … file cabinets jammed with unfinished projects… And all this on a good day, after I’ve tidied up. Oh, my yes, my cleaner-uppers will have a field day in here.

My friend Jane never has to fear similar embarrassing revelations. A minimalist to the ’nth degree, she doesn’t allow even an extra postage stamp to clutter a drawer (an actual example, swear to God). In fact, Jane’s home has been pristinely cleared for her take-off from this planet for over thirty years. It’s so ship-shape, her survivors will have to go someplace else to find a match for the crematorium.

Today’s the day for me to begin to get more Jane-like, to clean out extraneous miscellany and get organized. I started by making a detailed “to-do” list this morning. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I put it.

Maybe I should check the freezer.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.


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