There's a scene in "Sleepless in Seattle" that always cracks me up. It has nothing to do, really, with any of the primary characters, or even the plot of the movie. It's all about the refrigerator.
You know the scene... Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) arrives at his latest project. The owner of the house (who also happens to be enthralled with Sam) is genuinely concerned about the space available for her new refrigerator. Must be able to hold those catering trays, after all. To accomodate, Sam the Architect informs her that they'll have to knock out a load-bearing wall and set the project back by another six months.
I laugh because I realize that I will never, ever have a refrigerator quite that large. And it has nothing to do with capacity. I have, what, 17 or so cubic feet in my current fridge, and that seems to be adequate for our food storage needs. It fits neatly in the space allotted for it by the manufacturers of my manufactured home. So what's funny?
Surface area! I need surface area. I have two elementary school-aged daughters, and they have a combined annual artistic output equivalent to a small rain forest in Central America. I have a revolving account with my local paper distributor. It's ironic, really, given my work in creating paperless environments for my customers at work. But the need for children to draw, paint, color, and otherwise create pictures is deeply rooted in their psyches. Along with that need is the need to have their work displayed so that all who see it can acknowledge the genius of their work. And the refrigerator is the logical place to display their masterpieces.
It's so simple. They draw a picture in which they take considerable pride. We have plenty of magnets. All that's required is to decide which previous magnum opus to take down to make room for the new one. The fridge also has an array of magentized toys with which the girls play on occasion. These take away from the potential display space on the fridge, but it's a relatively minor inconvenience.
So what I have, in my kitchen, is a large, magnetic art museum. It may have food on the inside, but it has priceless works of art on the outside. I feel no need to upgrade this display case. For one thing, my kitchen space dictates how large a display ca... sorry, refrigerator I can have. For another, why should I pay $2,800 for a display case?? You didn't know you could blow $2,800 on a fridge? Go visit the Sears.com refrigerator shop. And that's the sale price.
To be honest, I'm not entirely certain just what color our refrigerator is. I haven't seen it for a couple of years now. I think it's white. I know it's white on the inside because I just had to clean every surface of it the other day. But I don't dare disturb the layers of art on the outside. Indeed, it's not altogether uncommon for the fridge to regurgitate an occasional picture when it gets too full. I can always tell... I'll either open one of the doors, or brush up against it when walking by, and a picture will float gently to the floor. I will look in vain for a clear space that might indicate its original position. Ultimately I give up, and file the picture away in a drawer where we stash all such things that we just can't bring ourselves to toss.
Probably we'll end up getting a new fridge before we get rid of the art. Then we'll heave the sigh of parents who realize that their daughters aren't their little girls anymore.
I hope that day takes its time getting here.