So I’m sitting there, thinking about my underwear. A few steps away is a giant chess board and a hot tub. In the evening I will be served large quantities chocolate cake, along with ice cream, for free. But it is about my underwear that I am thinking, when I finally ask myself: What’s the point? What’s the point of wearing a pair of underpants that are as much air as fabric? Underpants crowned with an elastic band that hangs off the fabric as limp as any one of you passed out on the toilet? HOW DO THEY EVEN STAY ON?
Static electricity, I assume, and in this sense, my underpants were a tiny daily miracle. Perfect static cling aside, the garment (recently washed (!)) was not dry when I was ready to leave, and so into the trash they went. One less pair of underwear to stick to my bum. It’s a cold train, to be sure. Everything must be worth its volume and weight. That’s why all those glass stones got abandoned in Spain.
And although I couldn’t tell you what possessed me to carry 24 glass stones all the way across the world in the first place, the real mystery is why I decided to ditch them after walking a few hundred kilometers with them taking up precious space in my backpack1. As for the underwear and the question ‘why’, I was not expecting to find that NASA had already addressed the issue, nor was I expecting Queen Elizabeth I’s bathing habits to be referenced in the explanation (to be elaborated upon another time, perhaps), but there you have it. Never underestimate a book.
Underwear aside, it is winter here in the southern hemisphere. I am living in a large box ironically heated by a refrigerator2. This is perhaps possible because of the size of my box, a little under 3mx3mx3m by my estimate, bringing it to around 27m3. There is a ladder that leads up to a shelf which is my bed, and the ceiling is low enough that I cannot sit up. I manage to bump my head at least every day, and I can only hope that this will result in an increase in bone density that will serve me well sometime later in life.
There was a brief period in which I had moved into a box that didn’t have a fridge of its own, and so I was still storing food in the fridge that was still residing in my old box. One day I noticed that it was colder in my box than it was outside. Taking into consideration it was hovering around 0°C outside, it occurred to me that the room I was sleeping in was actually considerably colder than the fridge next door.
Interestingly, I chose to continue using the fridge until acquiring my own; the only justification I could muster was that the fridge would have a steady temperature, while the coldness of my ‘hut’ (as it is often called — but I will henceforth refer to it as my ‘house’) would fluctuate throughout the day3. The more interesting thing about this is that for my fridge-less period, I was essentially sleeping in a refridgerator, and at some points, in a freezer. I was very pleased to have managed this without even really noticing. Some long underwear, a couple blankets and a sleeping bag, and I slept like a baby (one of those good babies).
I quite like the idea of living in a fridge despite the mild anxiety I experience every time I look inside of one, which comes from a fear that someone might push me in and close the door. This reaches all the way back to an end-of-episode segment of G.I. Joe that I saw when I was five4. (I imagine the witch with the candy house would experience the same thing when opening ovens, had she survived providing such extensive hospitality to those two ungrateful children, whose names I will not mention here. . .)
But once you get past that, the fridge would be a pretty cool5 place, and for some reason I think of it the way Homer Simpson thinks about being under the sea.
Everybody knows that the contents of the fridge come to life at night, and have all sorts of sit-com worthy interactions. I was always a little sad when there were both hamburgers and veggie burgers in there together, because I was sure the veggie burgers would be ridiculed and bullied by the real meat.
And to be sure, no self-respecting member of the crisper drawer would stand up for them. “What, are you trying to be: meat? Fuck off and start your own food group!” That’s right, no one but the magnanimous potato would come to their aid, and they are kept way over in the potato box, because no self-respecting potato would take refuge in the fridge. “I’m a tuber!” they would say. Many of the carrots quietly cry themselves to sleep when they hear this.
The condiments never shut up, and don’t know when to calm down. The leftover suppers, wise beyond their days, simply look on, amidst dancing pickles and pickled onions, trying so hard to wake up slabs of fish because everyone loves the way they jig. But I digress.
It occurs to me now that I may have failed to provide sufficient content to justify the above title. So if keeping food cold and your house warm isn’t enough, you will remember that Jackie Chan used refrigerator doors as nun chucks6 in Rumble in the Bronx, Sokka used one to escape Boiling Rock7 late in the 3rd Season of Avatar: the Last Airbender, and Indiana Jones used one to survive a nuclear blast in a film most Indiana Jones fans pretend never existed.
If things go according to plan, you will hear from me again far sooner than any of you would prefer.
living in a box
with a fridge
and a blanket
1. Maybe I thought they would help me make friends. To the curious, the stones were left on a park bench with clear instructions of how to play Bak Chal, an ancient game involving goats and tigers. It may even be that I wrote the instructions in Spanish. Perhaps the stones were used to bring some joy to a small child or were used to pleasantly pass the time between friends. It is also possible that they were used with a slingshot to harass or even kill squirrels. One can never be sure. ↖
2. There is a net heat production that results from a refrigerator being on. It is nevertheless a practical technology because it is able to localize a lower temperature (inside), and insulate that area from heating up. The colder your fridge, the harder it must work and the more heat it will pump out. Interestingly, if you are very cold, and have nothing but a fridge to keep you warm, you will get the most heat production by opening the door (and staying as far away from the machine as possible. This will result in maximum heat production until the motor burns out. ↖
3. Check out the temperature ranges for Christchurch. I am sure that I’ve experience 20 degree swings throughout the day. The only places I would expect more than this is the desert, the moon, and Mars) ↖
4. I am sure that my memory has darkened the segment with time, but as I remember it, some kids were playing hide and seek in the junkyard, and they couldn’t find one of their friends. A G.I. Joe marches up to them spouting some lecture about the dangers of the junkyard, and without shifting his gaze opens a fridge on his left, and the crumpled body of a small child tumbles to the ground before his feet. The soldier looks right at the screen and points to the viewer, “Don’t hide in old refrigerators, kids! They’re hard to open from the inside! Knowing is half the battle!” ↖
5. This was not intended as a pun. That is the kind of joke my Dad would make. And while he can be actually funny, he has been operating for years under that delusion that the pun has potential in the realm of humour. He laughs all the louder at these transgressions to fill the deafening silence emitted from the shaking heads around the table. I would put the question to any of you: When was the last time you laughed out loud at a pun? Keep in mind that laughing at the poor soul that thought the pun would be funny is not the same thing as laughing at the pun. Remember this: the advocate of the pun may laugh often, but he (or she) always laughs alone. ↖
6. Read: NUN CHUCKS. Or ‘Nun-chucks’, ‘Nunchakus’, or even ‘Karate Sticks’. To those of you who insist on saying or spelling it “Numb-Chucks”: I fucking hate you. And no, Einhorn, it doesn’t matter that you get numb wherever you get hit with them. ↖