Leila takes on her refrigerator, strangers

By Leila Sales

I am engaged in this epic, Lord of the Rings-type battle with my refrigerator. I realize that it’s just a small ugly box in the corner of my dorm room, but in my mind it is a bow-and-arrow-wielding demon from the World Beyond. Maybe not even bow-and-arrow. Maybe, like, death.

On regular, eight-minute intervals (oh yes, I have timed it), my refrigerator starts emitting this quiet humming noise. I assume this is The Noise Of Cooling, but to me it is The Noise Of Preventing Me From Falling Asleep. The refrigerator hums for two minutes, and then falls blessedly silent for another eight. This puts me in a panic. I have eight minutes to fall asleep! Right now! Oh my God! Count sheep! Think of ballerinas! Seven minutes!

Sometimes I punch it. I get all the way out of my very snug bed in order to beat the snot out of my refrigerator. This has absolutely no effect on the noise, and it so invigorates me that I end up staying awake for another three or four of the refrigerator’s cycles, chanting “Eye Of The Tiger,” and flexing my biceps.

What’s ironic is that there is nothing for my refrigerator to be cooling right now except for some leftovers from Leona’s and half a bottle of peppermint Schnapps. Oh, and some mold, but I spend most of my ever-longer waking hours telling myself that there is no mold in my refrigerator. “There is no mold in my refrigerator,” I repeat to myself, “and there are probably no cockroaches in my dorm.”

Denial is my main crisis coping mechanism. Also sleeping, except my refrigerator has effectively put a moratorium on that option. This is troubling because I am absolutely rife with crises. Here is the crisis weighing heavy on my mind at present: the war in Iraq.

No, oh my gosh, just kidding! My actual crisis is: periodically I have to say something to strangers. This is a recurring problem in my life because, so far as I am concerned, everyone outside of my immediate family is a stranger. I don’t recognize many people. It’s because my head is so full of modern philosophical quandaries, you know. I just don’t have time to commit little details to my overcrowded memory, like, for example, the names and faces of anyone I’ve ever met.

A telling anecdote: I was on the bus the other day, and this guy sat down next to me and said, “Hey, Leila.” This raised a number of troubling concerns, like: who was he? How did he know my name? Had he been spying on me? Or did I, perhaps, know him? If I did know him, should I make small talk? Like what? “So, funny how we not only know each other, but we also ride buses”? I compromised by blurting out, “I have poor facial recognition!” and then pretending to be asleep.

I always do this, tell people that I have poor facial recognition, like it’s a thing, a thing that people have, like ADD or cancer. “I’ll need an extension on that paper,” I tell professors. “You know, because of my poor facial recognition.” I’ve become increasingly convinced that I’m actually blind and nobody has the heart to tell me.

Anyway, the reason why talking to strangers becomes a real hassle at this time of the year is that it is summer-job-search time (like Hammertime, except somehow less awesome). My summer-job-search process involves many hours of pumping myself up to phone a company, two minutes of talking to a secretary about how they’re not hiring, and then another few hours of announcing to all passerby, “Wow. I totally called that company. Man, I called them. Sure, I was a little scared. Who wouldn’t be? But I picked up that phone and I dialed, man. I was the fucking KING.”

And then I don’t get a job. Not getting a job is an integral step in this process. It’s probably for the best, though. Imagine if I actually got an interview with a company. I’d stumble in to their office, this sleep-deprived and possibly blind individual, and I would announce to my potential employers, “You probably don’t have cockroaches! Maybe!” And then I’d show them my biceps. This may not be how best to survive in the working world.