When it’s ajar! It wasn’t part of the original plan. The original plan was to spend my nearly two hours free of children, doing something therapeutic but pointless, such as throwing a bowl on the pottery wheel. Instead I’m doing something constructive, cleaning the refrigerator. A little unexpected admittedly but it’s always better to be productive than leisurely. I pull out the shelf tray from the fridge to wash it, the jars and bottles all glued to the Perspex.
I remember a boy coming to ask for some whipped cream for the strawberries that I was serving at a party. He asked politely, but I was surprised that someone so youthful would be brave enough to ask the hostess for such a thing, afterall there was a jug of cream available on the table. But Americans are bold like that, they teach their children to speak up for themselves. I liked it. I stopped catering for 50 plus people and grabbed a bowl and a whisk to make some whipped cream for him. The child stood watching patiently which also impressed me considerably. I remember that his large eyes grew bigger as he watched but I didn’t know why? I chucked the whisk in the sink, scooped the whipped cream into a clean bowl and passed it and a spoon to the boy. His mother arrived at that moment where she took in the scene. “Oh you shouldn’t have gone to all that trouble, he’d have been ok. with just old regular Reddi Whip.” Not for the first time I knew that everyone around me was talking a foreign language. I ran Reddi Whip through my brain; Reddibrek, a hot breakfast cereal? Red letter? Ready for beddy already teddy? Red herring? I had no terms of reference, it was mystifying. “You know, in a can!” she said. Can? I remembered that ‘can’ meant ‘tin,’ but that didn’t help. Did she mean evaporated or condensed milk? How foul! I was none the wiser. I accepted it, didn’t question it because I was learning a great deal about peculiar American ways, like the cake thing. Take a perfectly delectable slice of moist room temperature cake and then slap a rock of ice-cream on it. The ice-cream melts quickly and makes a soggy mess. Why would anyone do that? So what if they label it ‘a la mode,’ they’re not fooling anyone.
It’s my own fault of course, I should never have let a canister of spray cream have house room, as it such a revolting concoction of chemicals. But of course you do, don’t you, as time goes by, you learn to go with the flow and adapt. It was a mistake asking him to put the can back in the fridge, or rather on the shelf in the fridge door. I watch him hovering in front of the open fridge looking for a space tall enough, which is great because it means that he has noted the discrepancy between the two. “In the door dear,” I repeat with a tone of exasperation creeping into my voice. “Door? Door? What door?” he bleats. “The door, the door, in the door dear!” I get cross because I cannot think of another word for ‘door,’ something to convey dooriness that isn’t the word door. Never repeat, never repeat repeatedly. I skid over to him so that he can watch me and my arms. My arms sweep wide into a rectangle to indicate the fridge and again to mimic the door. “Oh door!” he says with surprise, as if it has suddenly materialized before him, but there again, perhaps it just has? As he squeezes it in, it accidentally squirts a shot of foamy cream at high velocity. The others come over to investigate what made the noise and then admire the resulting splat. A set of tentative little finger tips test it out, because it might be the shaving cream variety of foam, rather than the edible kind of cream. I make a mental note to store shaving cream in the fridge for a few months so that we don’t have to repeat this exercise too often. Filthy creatures.
Three minutes later an immense amount of happiness has infected them all, but the contagious fun is over too quickly, the can has to be recycled. It’s impressive that they’ve learned how to dispense the cream themselves by depressing the button. It’s great that they find the picture of two foot of splattered cream a source of amusement, spread all over the inside of the door and it’s contents of the fridge. An educational experience for us all. He lifted his hand, stuck out his index finger and traced ‘door,’ this from a child who can barely write his own name and considers pencils to be instruments of torture. He also shared his grin with me, as well as his eyes, as he purposefully licked his finger. I must remember to look up that word in the thesaurus. Door 1. a movable barrier used to open and close the entrance to a building, room, closet, or vehicle. 2. the gap that forms the entrance to a building or room 3. a building or room considered in relation to those on either side