Friday, June 17, 2011

Stuff You Learn As A Parent That You Wish You Hadn't

And what a lot of stuff like that there is.

Today, I learned that eucalyptus oil dissolves refrigerator-grade plastic. And how did I learn that, you ask? Oh, it's quite simple, really.

The refrigerator was beginning to stink. It was developing a nasty, sick-sweet rotting odour that subtly perfused the entire kitchen every time I opened the fridge door. I didn't know what it was, but I knew that a stink like that couldn't be left to ripen. Not even in a chilly Tasmanian winter.

Therefore, once I finished making dinner (chicken and sweet corn soup... and since I served it early on the grounds that Natalie missed her lunch at work, I also set up a steamed chocolate pudding with orange/rum sauce and whipped cream. It's winter, after all.) I opened the fridge and started at the bottom.


The crisper. Who came up with that name, anyway? It's not a fucking 'vegetable crisper'. It's a death sentence. It's a fucking oubliette in which innocent fruits and vegetables are condemned to languish in lightless horror until they deliquesce into the most disgusting possible components of the ancestral primeval ooze. A 'crisper' would be a place where things remained snappy, crisp, sharp and delicious. That thing in the bottom of your fridge is nothing like that. It is a place for turning food into terror.

This time around, some genius -- and I have no real names to offer, because we've had a horde of kids traipsing through the house over the last few days -- appeared to have spilled maybe a half-litre of milk into the vegefucker, where it promptly formed a vile pool on the bottom, joined forces with an undead wombok, overpowered a few innocent carrots, and converted a lush pair of tomatoes into the sort of purulent, oozing scarlet nastiness you'd expect in the middle of the face of a zombie clown.

In short, the bottom of my crisper was full of rotted vegetable milk soup-cheese. That hated me. Personally.

This, I felt, was not a desirable state of affairs. And with Natalie being ill (she's got the cold I had last week), and Elder Son being likewise incapacitated, it fell to me to devise a plan of attack. That plan involved two heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, one inside the other, and a gardening trowel. Armed with these tools, I shovelled the worst of the milk-shoggoth out of the so-called 'crisper', sealed it away from light and life and air, and promptly bundled it out of my house into the depths of the skip-bin up by the shed. (And if the damned stuff wants to eat its way out of all that bagging and join forces with the rest of hideous, Lovecraftian remnants therein... good luck to it. There's a five-tonne truck coming on Thursday to sort it out for good.)

Now, while I was wrestling that bag of evil through the stygian darkness and abysmal cold of a Tasmanian winter night, my beloved wife decided she would offer me some help. And I am truly grateful, I admit. Unfortunately, she decided to put the 'crisper' (now largely empty of all but... residuum) into the laundry sink to decontaminate it.

She then poured eucalyptus oil directly into the 'crisper', and topped it up with hot water.


Ten minutes later, I went in and tipped out the water. The air in the laundry was thick and steamy, and reeked of eucalyptus - which was a huge improvement over the stink of feculent milk. I grabbed an old rag, and began scrubbing away at the last, lingering hints of the horror... and lo! I discovered that a large portion of the hitherto-clear plastic of the 'crisper' had now turned milky-white, and become... gummy.

So, there it is, folks. If your kids (or anyone else's, for that matter) spill milk into your vegetable crisper, by all means disinfect it with eucalyptus oil. But remember: hot water goes in FIRST, eucalyptus oil goes into the water.

Otherwise, like me, you'll be ringing up various electrical goods outlets, trying to locate a replacement crisper.