ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published March 16, 2007.
There’s a dinosaur in our kitchen.
It sits there, day after day, night after night, occasionally uttering somewhat unsettling noises.
It isn’t a real dinosaur, of course. I’d have been on Jay Leno and David Letterman if that was the case, but as far as appliances goes, it is positively pre-historic.
It’s a refrigerator, and it can’t be trusted.
It can’t, at least, if you subscribe to the theory popularized in the 1960s that “you can’t trust anyone over 30.”
Our refrigerator, you see, is going on 31 years old.
That means it has been living on borrowed time for 18 years, according to a survey conducted by National Association of Home Builders and posted on the CNN/Money Web site. That survey estimates the average life expectancy of a refrigerator to be 13 years.
Gas ranges should last 15 years or more, according to the survey, while dishwashers are good for only nine years.
A word to the wise, children might not be enthusiastic dish washers, but they last longer than the electric model and don’t use near as much energy.
Kitchen cabinets, the survey says, are good for 50 years or more — which just proves you should choose your cabinets at least as carefully as you choose a spouse, if not more so.
Chimneys, fireplaces and concrete foundations should last for a century or more, while granite countertops could last forever, the survey says. Faucets go bad after about 15 years, while kitchen sinks have a life expectancy of 50 years. Hardwood floors are 100-year investments, while vinyl should give you 50 years and linoleum 25.
A roof should keep the rain off your head for between 20 (asphalt shingles) and 50 years (clay or concrete tile).
Let’s see, if our refrigerator has a normal life span of 13 years, and the normal life span of a human being is 77.6, that means my fridge is roughly 200 in human years, give or take a decade.
It has, as many of us do, lost some of its looks over the decades. For starters, it is harvest gold, a hot color in the 1970s, but terribly dated now.
Of course, you can’t see much of its surface for all the magnets, notes, reminders, schedules, appointment cards for various doctors, sayings and newspaper cartoons hanging there.
One of my favorite cartoons is yellow, torn and not far from crumbling into dust.
It is a B.C. cartoon showing two of the characters walking and talking. One wonders aloud why the phrase “In God We Trust,” is displayed on money and public buildings. “These days he’s all that’s left,” answers the other.
There are photos there, too. One is of my late aunt, who is sitting, smiling, with a cute baby in her lap. I have no idea whose baby that was, but the sweet smile on my aunt’s face is the way I’ll always remember her.
There are pictures of our cats who died last year, one a week short of 16 and the other at 16 years and four months. It’s hard to look at them, but we can’t bear to take them down.
There’s one of me, in profile, with a full beard. I think my wife keeps that up there for a joke. Of course, I haven’t seen any mice in the house lately, so perhaps it’s working.
That old refrigerator is like many of us. It isn’t terribly attractive or fashionable (there’s no ice and water in the door, for instance). But it works. It does what it’s supposed to do, day in and day out, with no fanfare and little recognition.
Open the door, and the light goes on. The food stays cold, the milk stays fresh and the meat stays frozen.
It is enduring, not unlike a good marriage.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.