My Alien Refrigerator

Creative writing in the time of COVID-19…

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been taking a Creative Writing class (via Zoom of course) with my best friend from college, the incredible Nikki Levy (the creator of Don’t Tell My Mother). It’s been a great exercise in tapping into the creative side of my brain and exploring how writing can capture the ideas, feelings, and perspectives floating around my head. This piece below is from a recent class where we were asked to take a picture of our refrigerator, and then write for 5 minutes on it. I hope you enjoy…

If you were an alien, arriving on Earth for the first time, maybe seeking a new habitat or just curious about how the pandemic has paralyzed our planet, the state of our kitchens, and specifically our refrigerators, would be a good place to start understanding our current way of life. The full racks of produce, the fresh dairy products, the abundance of beer, the presence of every food staple, not to mention the large dough bin, would speak to our current conditions. Just a couple of months ago, the scene would have been different; maybe just a sleeve of butter, some baking soda to cut odors, or a stale onion, but not much in the way of fresh goods. An alien would have been disappointed.

The current state of our refrigerators speaks to the times, but it also reveals other clues to our origins and way of life. In my case, an alien with good eyesight would see our Trader Joe’s sriracha sauce and cheese sticks and could guess we live in California. But what’s interesting is what he/she (or it) could learn about our deeper roots. The feta cheese in the drawer could be a sign of our Mediterranean ties, the Swiss jams and imported cheese could indicate connection to other European regions, and the homemade biscuits and dough connect us to our ancestor’s passions and professions. Or maybe just our boredom and openness to culinary experimentation.

As a possible first contact with Earth (and Earthlings), the refrigerator is a great candidate. It has become the center of our lives in recent weeks and has replaced other appliances that used to serve as ground zero for our day-to-day; the living room TV, our old-fashioned iron stove in winter months, or the bar cart with its colorful bottles. We spend more time with our refrigerators lately than probably anything or anyone else — organizing them, stocking them, shuffling them, cleaning them, making literal life-altering choices with them. Some can blame the fridge for aiding them in putting on extra pounds while others can praise it for helping them make healthier choices. The fridge has helped us become more creative and explore new frontiers. There are galaxies of recipes that are open to discovery. And there are black holes, like the batch of lemon-olive oil cookies we attempted that came out a little too olive-oil tasting.

Some days I feel like I interact a little too much with my fridge — should I call it frige-ddiction? Fridge-aggedon? I spend more time with it than I do face-timing my parents, more time than at the dinner table with my spouse, more time than texting my friends inappropriate quarantine memes. Has the fridge become the new iPhone, susceptible to addiction and carpal tunnel syndrome? Do I need to put a timer on my fridge to remind myself not to open it right before bed? It scares me to think about what would happen if my fridge went on the fritz! If those little green men offered a remedy to prevent any fridge calamity, I certainly would let them experiment on me to get it.

In past generations, we’ve recorded our history by burying memory boxes and sending capsules into space, filled with artifacts that tell the story of human life. We’ve included photos and music and recordings of greetings in over 100 languages. As pandemics alter our lives, could a GE be the next thing we hurl into space to greet the cosmos? Is a Whirlpool the next example of space trash we need to worry about? Only time will tell, and in the meantime, I have a long list of recipes to try out. Hopefully those aliens will take whatever we send to space as a positive sign of our potential and extend a culinary hand (or tentacle) in return.

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Steven Traykovski

Ex Product/Ops guy, now exploring startup ideas, blockchain, crypto and more