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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Juuuuust a Fridge Outside

(Steal yourself some time to check out this week’s Secondhand SCIENCE screed on kleptoplasty. It’s got chlorophyll. And corn.

Also cannibals, chipmunk nuts and some chick in a bologna suit. As all good science should. Check it out.)

I was never all that good at math. I mean, I can add, and multiply smallish numbers together and convert inches to millimeters, if you give me a few minutes. And a quiet room to think about it. Also, a calculator.

Basically, I’m cool with any sort of math you might need to do to calculate baseball statistics — because honestly, what other point is there of learning math at all? Sure, astronauts should know a little trig, and math teachers should maybe watch Good Will Hunting at some point, but otherwise it’s just piling on. The final college math exam should just be figuring out the batting averages and ERAs for every schmo on the Minnesota Twins, and congratulations, you’re ready for an office job.

(This has the added benefit of getting someone, anyone, to pay attention to the Twins for a couple of hours. Those guys are like the Cleveland Indians, without the Major League love.)

I say all of this to admit that I’m no Benoit Mandelbrot when it comes to mathematicals, but I’ve recently learned that I’m also not the worst when it comes to numbers, either. Because that trophy belongs to home appliance installers.

“We scoped out brands and features and which in-door ice makers would make cubes in naughty shapes for parties.”

My wife and I recently bought a new refrigerator. We scoped out brands and features and which in-door ice makers would make cubes in naughty shapes for parties.

(Answer: none of them. You’re missing an market here, fridge peddlers.)

Once we had our favorite models in mind, we moved on to the very most important spec of all: width. Because you can pick out the most spectacular refrigerator of all — it can deep-freeze your Ben and Jerry’s, email when you’re low on milk and squeeze boob cubes into your Tom Collinses all day. But if it won’t fit in the kitchen, you’re shit outta luck. And also outta milk, and that appears to be Cherry Garcia dripping all over your linoleum. Aw.

We didn’t make that mistake. There are a couple of ways into our kitchen — the condo layout is sort of a Mobius strip — but the biggest available doorway is thirty inches wide. That’s thirty. Three. Oh.

Like I said, I’m not much with the maths. But I got out an abacus and a few sheets of paper, and I figured out that to get through a thirty-inch doorway, we’d need to buy a fridge that had a maximum width of less than thirty inches.

(I know, I know — nobody came here expecting word problems. This isn’t the SAT. But bear with me. There’s only one more bit of math. Promise.)

So we did just that. We picked out a model that claimed to be, minus the removable door and brackets, less than thirty inches wide. Not by a lot. Let’s face it — a six-inch wide fridge isn’t helping much of anyone. You could store uncooked spaghetti in there — standing up, not longways, obviously — and that’s about it. Maybe pencils. Or a single row of hot dogs.

Clearly, we wanted something wider. So the fridge we selected was on the higher end of what’s feasible: twenty-nine and one-half inches. A tight fit, to be sure. But physically possible. Shoved through on a dolly, there’d be a whole gaping quarter-inch chasm on each side as buffer. Easy. Like tossing those hot dogs down a hallway. Or something.

So we ordered the refrigerator, set up a delivery and on the date a couple of guys came and wheeled it into our living room, next to that thirty-inch doorway. They removed the door and some other fiddly equipment, dollied it over and said…

“Uh oh.”

Turns out, there are flanges — or flangey-type metalish things; my applied engineering is about as good as my math — sticking out of the fridge cavity, by about an inch. Which, added to the twenty-nine and one-half inches advertised in width, is apparently too big to fit through the door. Or so the guys told me. And then showed me on a calculator. And Texas Instruments don’t lie.

We then dipped into a fascinating discussion on semantics, and whether the “bracketless” designation in the spec sheet also implied “flangeless” — or “flangey-type metalish thingless”. Also, we debated the nature of the phrase “less than thirty inches”, and found our philosophies on the matter to be, shall we say, less than compatible.

Which is odd, because that’s pretty basic math. I know it’s math, because there are numbers involved. And I’m sure it’s basic, because it’s something I’ve actually learned. If it were rocket science, it would involve Greek letters and derivatives of things, and I’d get a headache thinking about it. But I don’t. Until I talked to the installers.

So. Now we have a second appointment with the home appliance people, who maybe this time will send a mathematician on the crew. Or at least, someone armed with a goddamned flange remover. In the meantime, we have a perfectly lovely, full-featured, doorless and flange-protruding refrigerator disassembled next to our living room couch. It’s not keeping our Chunky Monkey frozen, and my hot dogs and spaghetti are scandalously room temperature.

All I know is, when this thing gets in there, it had better make the naughtiest ice cubes the world has ever seen. Somebody owes me.

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