When was the last time you stopped to look at the things you have stuck to your refrigerator? If you’re like most people, it’s covered with all kinds of miscellaneous stuff; photos of friends and family, the town recycling schedule, postcards, report cards ─ all manner of things that can be attached by magnets. Magnets themselves can be the medium; the season schedule for the Red Sox, a calendar in six point type courtesy of a local realtor, a faux business card with the dentist’s information.
Some magnets are for entertainment; phrases for creating poetry, flat figures you can stick clothes on, plastic letters to help your child learn the alphabet. (The latter usually relegated to the bottom so the intended audience can reach them.)
It doesn’t take long before all these bits and pieces that you thought were worth saving become the visual equivalent of white noise.
Why do we do decorate refrigerators? They’re not sold with a set of magnets. The specifications list doesn’t say Freezer Capacity: 7.1 cubic feet, Refrigerator Capacity: 17.6 cubic feet, Display Area: 3 square feet. And yet, we clutter them up as soon as they’re plugged in, before the first ice cubes are frozen.
I think it’s because we delude ourselves into believing that the refrigerator is a transitional posting place. We stick the hand print painting our three year old did on the fridge not because we think it’s beautiful, but because we want the child to think we think it’s beautiful. We intend that artwork to be in its place of pride for a week or two, not the many years (going on forever) that it actually hangs there.
We have a photo of our cat on our fridge. It has been slowly fading for years. I expect one day, when the last vestige of the image disappears, I’ll hear a poof and the cat will be gone, too, victim of a twisted, refrigerator version of the Picture of Dorian Gray.
Once in a great while I come across a refrigerator that is not decorated in memorabilia. I have a friend with a high end kitchen whose refrigerator is disguised as a cabinet (which makes it hard to find the wine). But then, she also has a mirrored wall that effectively hides the door to the bathroom (which makes it hard to find the bathroom).
While residents of the house may no longer see what’s posted on their refrigerator, it still provides entertainment for visitors. And it helps them find the wine.