Before I begin, I think it’s important that I disambiguate my chosen title.  (Note:  I could have used the word “clarify,” but who knows when another opportunity might arise to use a five-syllable word.)  The title is not meant to refer to William Perry, the Chicago Bears defensive tackle who was so big that he was nicknamed the “Refrigerator.”  I don’t even know why I recall this piece of sports trivia.  I am not a big fan of football.  The thrill of watching grown men pile on top of one another every few seconds completely escapes me.  But I digress.

No, the refrigerator I’m referring to is an actual refrigerator, the one that occupies 25 cubic feet of space in my kitchen.  It’s not new, but an appliance we inherited from the prior owner of the condo apartment in which we now live.  No need to replace it, we thought.  It’s in fine working order.  Except for one small detail.  An external piece of plastic that simply won’t stay in its intended place!

Are you familiar with the base grill? You might know it as the toe kick plate.  Or more likely, you don’t know it at all.  It’s one of those things in life that simply goes unnoticed because it resides where the refrigerator meets the floor.  So, you don’t see it unless you happen to have a seat at the breakfast table which affords a bird’s eye view of the toe kick laying on its side, revealing all the horrors it has heretofore been concealing.

Its mechanical purpose is to allow air to flow into the machine compartment to cool the condenser.  But of more significance to a domestic goddess, it’s the part that hides all the dust, debris, and missing objects that have found their way under the refrigerator never to be seen again.  Unless the toe kick decides to fall.

I am a proud do-it-yourself person who dabbles in fixing toilet bowl flappers, assembling Ikea furniture with no parts left over, and performing successful operations on hard-to-open bottle caps.  So, it’s no wonder that one morning, about a week ago, on a caffeine high and tired of staring at the dust, I decided it was time to tackle the toe kick! I even went so far as to purchase a roll of duct tape just in case it needed more encouragement to remain in place.

That was a week ago.  Yet, this morning still finds me sitting at my little breakfast table staring at the repulsive mess behind the fallen toe kick.  So, why has the repair queen been procrastinating?  Fellow octogenarians – when was the last time you voluntarily lowered yourselves to the floor with no thought to how in hell you were going to ever stand again without summoning EMS?

What comes to mind in the current stand-off between me and the refrigerator is the phrase “reality bites.”  This refers to those moments “when the harsh pains and experiences of life jolt you out of your fantasy.”  Unfortunately, at this stage of the journey “harsh pains and experiences” are not mere metaphors.

So, having experienced the harsh pains of lowering and raising stiff joints to the floor and back, why am I even contemplating fixing that damn toe kick on my own? The answer is clear.  My fantasy is way younger than my knees!

It’s hard to admit that you can no longer do what used to be easy to accomplish.  And that you should have the phone number of a handyman on speed dial.  But common sense does not always prevail, and today might just be the day when I decide to throw caution to the wind and tackle the refrigerator.

So please don’t be alarmed if you see the neighborhood fire truck parked in front of my building.  The humiliation of needing to be hoisted from the floor may very well be offset by yet another successful DIY repair!

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