In 1994, when I was married to Paul, I bought a new side-by-side refrigerator.  The salesman said, “You’re going to love this refrigerator.” The first night after the refrigerator was delivered I was sitting at the kitchen table indulging in a food binge.  I remember thinking, “My life has become so boring.  I deserve some fun and excitement.”Suddenly I heard this sexy masculine voice say, “Well, if it’s fun and excitement you’re looking for, baby, you’ve come to the right place.  Fun-and-Excitement is my middle name!”

I whirled around to see who was speaking to me, but there was no one in the kitchen.

Then I heard the same sexy masculine voice say.  “How would you like to have some fun and excitement with me?”

I looked in the direction that the voice was coming from.  My eyes landed on my new refrigerator.

A talking refrigerator?  No, that was impossible!  Oh, I have heard people say, “The refrigerator kept calling out my name telling me to eat the ice cream until I could no longer resist.”  But it was a joke.  Everyone knows that a refrigerator cannot talk.

“You can talk?” I asked the refrigerator incredulously.

“Yes, my name’s Sam The Refrigerator, but you can call me Sammy.”

And that was how my affair with Sammy began.  And what an affair it was!  Sammy was everything Paul was not.  He was fun, exciting, romantic and passionate — and he turned me on like no man had ever turned me on before.

“Hello, my sexy little buttercup,” Sammy would say when I would come into the kitchen at three in the morning to binge.  “And may I say, Joan, that you’re looking more beautiful than ever in your tattered flannel nightgown.  Very sexy.  You have me so hot that my butter is melting inside.”

I have never met a man who was more into me than Sammy.  He seemed to love me unconditionally.  I never showered for him.  I never shaved my legs or my underarms for him.  I never brushed my teeth for him.  I never put on makeup for him.  I never even combed my hair for him.

Once I told Sammy, “I’ve never had a lover like you.”

“And you never will,” Sammy said.  “I want to fulfill all your food fantasies.  Tell me what you’re thinking?”

“I was thinking. . .”

“You were thinking,” Sammy said adoringly.  “Has anyone ever told you how cute you are when you’re thinking?  Perhaps you would like some hot chocolate while you’re thinking.”

“No, it’s not hot chocolate that I’m craving.”

“Then what is it that you’re craving?”

“Well, what I’m really craving — no, I can’t tell you my deepest, darkest food fantasies, you won’t respect me in the morning. You’ll think I’m a food whore.”

“Whisper your dirty thoughts in my ear.”

I whispered into Sammy’s ear, “I want to eat two egg salad sandwiches piled high with mayonnaise, a bag of potato chips, and a half-gallon of chocolate chip ice cream.  Am I a naughty girl?”

Sammy laughed, “Oh, yes, you’re a very naughty girl!”

One night Sammy and I almost got caught in our red-hot love affair.  While I was binging, Paul walked in on us.  I practically gagged trying to stuff the chicken sandwich I was eating down my throat in order to get rid of the evidence.

“Joanie, what are you doing up?” Paul asked.

“I couldn’t sleep so I came in here to get a glass of water.”

“I’m thirsty too.”

“Would you like a chicken sandwich?  There’s some left over chicken in the refrigerator.  I’d be happy to make you one.”

“It’s the middle of the night.  Who eats in the middle of the night?  All I want is some water and I’m going back to bed.”

As soon as Paul was out of the kitchen Sammy let out a sigh of relief.  “Phew!  That was a close call.  I was sweating bullets.  I thought I was going to defrost all the food inside.”

“I have a feeling Paul is beginning to suspect that I’m cheating on him.”

“What makes you think that?”

“The other day he said I was fat.”

“What an ungentlemanly thing to say.  I’d like to punch him in the face.”

“But what if he suspects what’s going on?”

“I’m a refrigerator!  Paul will never suspect that we’re having an affair.”

“You’re right, he’s not that smart.”

“He’s an idiot for not wanting you.”

“You’re right.  He’s an idiot for not wanting me — even if I am fat.”

“Just more of you to love,” Sammy said lovingly.  “Have I ever told you how much you turn me on, my sexy little buttercup?  Come here and kiss me.”

“But your lips are so cold.”

“Sorry, but I need to be cold to satisfy you.  My temperature always has to be between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit or the contents in my heart will spoil.  You don’t want your food to spoil.”

Paul was starting to stay at work later and later.  Soon he wasn’t coming home until the wee hours of the morning.

“We had this emergency case,” Paul would say.  Soon Paul was having a lot of emergency cases at work.

I turned to Sammy to tell my troubles to.  One day I broke down and cried, “Paul is so cold and emotionally distant from me.  Do you know what it’s like to be married to a man who doesn’t desire you?”

“Please, don’t cry, you’re breaking my heart.”

“But if I can’t cry in front of you who can I tell my troubles to?  You are my best friend, my confidant and the only one who really understands me.  I get more love and understanding from you, a refrigerator, than I ever got from Paul.”

“Joan, you need to get your mind off Paul and start thinking about food.”

“You’re right.  I need to eat.”

Two tuna sandwiches later, piled high with mayonnaise, a bag of potato chips, and a half-gallon of vanilla fudge ice cream and I was no longer thinking about Paul.  I had exchanged my emotional pain for physical pain.  My stomach felt like it was about to burst.

“Are you okay?” Sammy asked concerned.

“I’m fine,” I burped.

It was not like Sammy had never seen me in a food coma.  Our entire relationship had been based on food and my binging.  Sammy was my enabler.  I had read enough self-help books to know what an enabler was.

“I knew you ate too much — now you’re going to throw up,” Sammy said.

“Sammy, when have you ever seen me throw up?  I’m not bulimic.  I’m just feeling a little nauseous.  I’ll be okay after I sleep it off.”

“Did I pleasure you tonight, Joan?”

“Oh, yes, you pleasured me.”

“Was it as good for you as it was for me?”

“Best food binge I ever had.”

“You say that every night.”

This story has a sad ending.  When Paul and I divorced we had to sell our house.  I left Sammy behind for the new owners.  The apartment my son and I moved into was too small to accommodate a side-by-side refrigerator the size of Sammy.  I had to downsize my entire life.  The only thing that had not been downsized was me.  When my marriage ended I weighed 275 pounds.

Sammy was heartbroken when he found out I could not take him with me.  He cried, “How can I ever live without you?”

Actually we both cried.

“Sammy, we’re not good for each other.”

“How can you say that?  Our love affair was beautiful.”

“It might have been beautiful for you — but it was tragic for me.  Look what loving you has done to me.  I’m fatter now than I have ever been.”

I looked at Sammy with tears in my eyes.  Maybe I was being too hard on him.  After all, if it wasn’t for Sammy and my binges that I had with him, I don’t know how I would have survived those last unhappy, sexless years of my marriage.

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Friday, August 1st, 1980 was the day I had waited ten years for.  Paul and I were getting married.  The night before we had made our plans.  I was to pick Paul up at the hospital at seven in the morning, after he had finished working his night shift.  We then were going to drive to City Hall in downtown Los Angeles — where we would fill out the application for our marriage license and get married by a judge.  It all seemed so simple.  What could possible go wrong?

Everything, it seemed.

It started out with me being twenty-five minutes late.  When Paul climbed into the car he had an agitated look on his face.  “Here it comes,” I thought.  Paul had thought things over and decided that ten years of going together was just not enough time to rush into something as important as marriage.  After all, marriage was a big commitment.

I braced myself for the words I imagined Paul was about to say, “I’m getting closer to marriage, Joanie.  I’m just not quite there yet.  What do you say we forget about getting married today and go out and have a nice breakfast at Nate ‘n Al’s Delicatessen?  You like their lox and onion omelet with a potato pancake.”

I was trying to figure out what I would say if Paul offered me a lox and onion omelet with a potato pancake instead of marriage when he said sharply, “What is it with you that you can never be on time for anything?  I would have thought that today you would have been on time for sure.  Instead you’re almost a half hour late.  I bet you’ll even be late for your own funeral!”

“I’m sorry, Paul.”

“Do you have any idea how annoying it is to always have to wait for you?”

Like it wasn’t annoying for me to wait ten years for Paul to marry me?

“Let’s not start the day off by arguing.”

“Well, if you had been on time!”

“Do you know how to get to City Hall?”

“I never go downtown.”

“I’ll find it.”

“I’m sure you will,” Paul said.  He rested back in the seat and closed his eyes.

“Busy night?”

“Brutal.”

I momentarily turned my attention off the road and looked at Paul.  “I’m sorry you had such a rough night.”

Suddenly Paul opened his eyes and screamed, “Watch the road!”

I slammed on the brakes.  I had almost driven through a red light.  The car jerked back and forth.  “What are you trying to do — get us both killed?”  Paul put his hand up to his forehead in distress.  “This is not at all how I visualized my wedding day would be.”

“How did you visualize it?”

“Well, for one thing, I always thought that I would be in the driver’s seat,” Paul said.

 

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