One night in childhood when my parents were out, I woke up for a drink of water and found the babysitter on the kitchen floor, surrounded by the contents of our refrigerator. She had suddenly felt compelled to clean it.
“It’s a good thing you got up,” she said. “What is this?”
She had found the grease jar, where we poured the fat after cooking low-grade hamburger. When the congealed layers reached the top, we threw out the whole sludgy jar and started over.
Apparently her family did not do this.
That’s about how I felt when I cleaned the office fridge last week after noticing the leftover hot dogs from our 4th-of-July party. We used to have a rotating schedule of weekly fridge-cleaning responsibility, but lately it’s come down to who reaches the revulsion breaking point first.
Some time between emptying the furry Tupperware and removing something with embryonic legs from the crisper drawer, coworkers started asking if I was all right. That’s because I was using an anti-nausea technique based on my theory that it’s harder for your mouth to do two things at once; in slogan form, Make Noises, Not Puke.
Underneath the bottom drawers was a rocklike mound of what appeared to be very expired chocolate syrup. It didn’t behave like syrup, though, and I couldn’t tell by touch what it was. Since my curiosity tragically outweighs my self-preservation instincts, I decided to smell it.
I still don’t know what that feculent deposit was, but if I ever find out who spilled it from the top shelf down to the air vents, I will introduce that person to the grease jar.