Sounds of the Mating Phoenix

My husband is experimenting to see how long Chinese food lasts in the refrigerator. It’s only been four days but I’ve decided to do my own experiment to see how infrequently I can open the fridge to avoid the stench of a deteriorating Chinese feast.
It’s amazing how many times a day I have to open the fridge even though I do my best not to.
Breakfast: I open for eggs that I poach and eat with dry toast. The bread comes from the freezer (a separate door). Hot ginger tea.
Lunch: I slip the spicy mayo out and add it to tuna, replace it stealthily. Room temperature water—from a room I purposefully leave the heat off for several hours. Pita chips.
Supper: salmon from the freezer. Rapid grab for Brussel sprouts and left-over cous cous. No return necessary for either. I top the fish with pantry staples—oil, pistachios. Room temperature red wine to ameliorate odoriferous distress.
I summon speed and stealth, wrap a scarf over my nose and mouth, hold my breath. Nevertheless…
In the cool darkness of the fridge, bean curd floats in an unnaturally shiny sauce, uneaten peppers fixed in the slough. Transparent snow peas saturated in a waxen pulse with lifeless clumps that may have once been shrimp, or paint chips floating in it. Bricks of rice. The plasticized miasma permeates asparagus and good Irish butter.
“Just needs a little duck sauce,” he insists.
By late evening I’m dreaming of dark chocolate that’s been unfairly incarcerated with the Chinese leavings. It should to be liberated before it accrues the odor.
I think of of that winter when the garbage froze under piles of ice and snow after several blizzards and didn’t thaw for a month, of the odor in a traditional Ainu tent, the rat’s nests under the carousel near the Eiffel Tower, the baked garbage and blood sacrifice in Katmandu.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pirate. I was told that girls couldn’t be pirates. I don’t agree with this rule but I had to abandon the dream because of my susceptibility to profound sea sickness.
My husband is no scientist. He does not preside over kitchen appliances—he barely notices them. I’m awake in the morning long before he is. Sanitation and rationality will triumph.

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