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The Freezer People

[My friend Lauri has just started a column for the Columbus (Ga.) Community News, and this piece shows her excellent comic timing. Humor is tough to write, because readers get really cranky if they think you're not very funny. They hate you. They go out of their way to write a letter saying You're Not Funny. They could read 100 mediocre hard-news stories and never consider for a moment writing to the author, but if humor doesn't work for them, they feel insulted -- as though the writer is insinuating that they SHOULD laugh, and by not laughing, are revealing a poor sense of humor. In any case, I think Lauri is very funny.]

By Lauri Menditto

My in-laws are freezer people. It has nothing to do with cryogenics (they aren't chillin' with Walt Disney's head or anything) and everything to do with discounted meat. If the commissary is offering chicken breasts for less than three dollars a pound they are on base before Reveille. They buy as much as will fit into one of their two freezers and then savor the discount for months to come.

My in-laws tendency to stockpile is an understandable byproduct of their living through the rationing of World War II. My concern is that their freezer is so cavernous that they may still have access to World War II meat. A cold war ensues when their overzealous purchasing compels them to push their surplus off on us because, in regard to meat, we are not a freezer-friendly family. I would even go as far as to say that we are the anti-freeze.

The only things inside the convenient pull-out drawer of our stainless steel Kenmore are things that originate in the frozen food section of the grocery store. We have ice, ice-pops and ice-cream.We also have frozen peas, which I don't count, as they are mainly used to reduce swelling.

It's the thawing process that bugs me. If letting sweaty meat lie around on the counter all day isn't a recipe for bio-terrorism then I don't know what is. I'm afraid I would leave a pork roast out too long and wipe out the entire Eastern Seaboard. I could utilize the defrost mechanism on the microwave but it takes less time to go to the store.

Freezer people may feel better prepared knowing they have hordes of meat socked away but I'd rather be Chicken less should the sky truly begin to fall. When the grid goes down freezer people are left scrambling for coolers and ice-packs while I'm eating Dove Bars and fielding dinner invitations from neighbors desperate to unload thawing flesh. I always accept. To refuse would be down right cold.
The most compelling reason to avoid overstocking your freezer is the rarely discussed yet universal plague of stinky ice. I would rather break an icicle off the bumper of my car than chill a beverage with the ice in my in-laws freezer. It actually tastes like meat. Unfortunately, like bad house smells, there is no polite way to impart this information to your hosts and when faced with a frozen Meat-garita the best you can do is hold your nose and hope no one suggests a second batch.

Maybe it's just a generational thing. My mother freezes everything from Chicken Tetrazini to Martini glasses and my grandmother has enough pot roast in her freezer to feed the seventh fleet. Each year at Christmas she packs one in her suitcase and brings it on the plane from New York to Atlanta. It thaws nicely among her unmentionables and by the time the Groome Shuttle gets her to Columbus dinner is served.

There is no denying that having extra food in your freezer is cost effective and convenient. But until they close the butcher section of the grocery store I will continue to turn a cold shoulder to the deep freeze. The way it looks we'll inherit enough frozen flesh to keep us in protein until the next millennium anyway. Because no matter where you put it, you can't take it with you.

By Joel Achenbach  |  March 21, 2005; 9:46 AM ET
 
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