Want a Cheap Way to Chill?

Sherry McGuinn

Clean out your fridge.


Since the inception of the pandemic, I, like so many people have determined to use the “extra time” stuck at home wisely, as in taking care of long-neglected household chores. And I, like so many people, have failed miserably. Because when your mood is in the toilet from slogging through the daily shit show that comprises “life” now, it’s a hell of a lot more fun to sit on your ass in front of the TV with a good bottle of vino than it is to Swiffer till you drop.

I used to love cleaning house. Tidying up. Organizing. A bottle of glass cleaner always at-the-ready, like another appendage. You see, OCD, which I have, and clutter, do not get along. They are not friends, my friends. So for people like myself, staying on top of things is a must. There’s no “missionary position” in OCD.

That said, I don’t enjoy dusting, mopping, vacuuming, and scouring every sink in the house with abrasive cleanser, the way I used to. It’s just so damned time-consuming. Why waste my valuable time cleaning when I can be here, making the big bucks?

Not to mention the day when, after cleaning a toilet, I stood up too quickly and tore my meniscus. Let me tell you, that’s a flash of pain you never forget.

But, it does feel good to slay a task that’s been niggling at your conscience for weeks. Like cleaning out the fridge.

We have two in our home. The main one in the kitchen and a second in our laundry room that’s a catch-all for all of the good “green stuff” that I buy when it’s on sale and rarely get to before it wilts like a penis after a romp.

Cleaning out both these refrigerators has been high on my “to do” list for weeks. I’m pretty tidy so neither one was in terrible shape, but I was missing the “sparkle” and knew that a good purge would be just the ticket. For the appliance and my mental state.

I decided to start with the main fridge in the kitchen and then follow up in a day or two with the other one.

Now, this is a tedious, laborious process that requires at the very least two to three hours to do well. More if your fridge is in “Hoarders” condition. If so, you’re going to need a HazMat suit and a can or two of bug spray.

It helps to set the stage, so to speak. I either have a movie running in the background that I’ve seen countless times or I bark song requests to Alexa, who is very accommodating, by the way. Obsequious, even.

I began the process by emptying the fridge of all its contents, which can be an eye-opening look into one’s psyche. For example, it turns out I have an affinity for pickled relish, both dill and sweet. I found at least three big jars, all full.

We’re not big sandwich eaters here, in fact, I rarely eat them, so I’m not sure what my intent was upon purchasing…all this freakin’ relish. But, because they were still fresh, I decided to keep them. I might find a use for them. Perhaps whip up a Pandemic Potato Salad for neighbors we never talk to.

Normally, I’m pretty good at tossing out the older stuff but I found at least five cans, FIVE, of fruit “in its natural juice,” mostly peaches and pineapple.

I squinted at the dates at the bottom of the cans and managed to determine that they had “passed away” in 2017 and 2018.

They received a proper burial.

Let me pause here to say that this is a terrible waste, I know. And the fact that we never eat canned fruit only supports that. Lesson learned.

Next, I dumped all the fruits and vegetables out of their respective bins and carefully examined them. Wilted celery. Wrinkled carrots. Shriveled-up limes that for some reason brought to mind the testicles of a really old guy. Like, really old.

I apologize for the sexual references, by the way. Food will do that to some people. (Papayas, anyone?)


As I sorted and tossed, I was reminded of my late mother who famously kept a food stash that when confronted as to whether certain items were fresh, would always answer, “I just bought that!”

My sister and I laughed over this when we were cleaning out our parents' apartment after they were both diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and she moved them into her home.

We spent several bittersweet hours cleaning out their pantry and fridge, tossing old containers of flour and coffee and various condiments that probably never saw the light of day.

It’s amazing the memories that merely cleaning out a major appliance can conjure up. Well worth the time and effort, folks, so give it a shot.

After I decided what to keep and what to let go of, I swabbed down the inside until every surface shone. Then, I lined the fruit and vegetable bins with that non-skid rubbery stuff that I don’t know the name of.

When I stood back and admired my work, I felt my perenially-dark mood start to shift into something that, if not quite orgasmic, was very close to “gleeful.”


I still have it, I thought. I’m awesome at this cleaning-up business! What does it matter that I can’t get curated here to save my freakin’ life while all the shite-flingers are getting “featured” in questionable publications that I‘ll not name here for fear of reprisal by its chief Warlord?

In fact, when my writing career finally shrivels up like those limes, maybe I can make a buck or two at this. Yeah!

Listen, my friends, when things finally “open up” for us and we’re allowed out and about unfettered by face coverings and such and you need a little house-cleaning help, hit me up and I’ll hustle on over like the inveterate hustler I am.

But, know this: I’m not cheap.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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My goal is to educate, entertain, make you laugh, and above all, make you think. I will be running the gamut as far as my articles go because I have a restless mind and I allow it to ramble where and when it wants. I hope you enjoy what I'm looking forward to sharing with you. If so, I'd love for you to follow me. Thanks for reading.

Chicago, IL

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