Chasing down the fridge with a bat

My wife is afraid of our ice machine.

As for me, I was at first very happy to even have an ice machine. Growing up in Queens, my family’s idea of a new refrigerator was to get the old one professionally painted. Even that was anticlimactic because the guy my parents hired painted our fridge the wrong color. He actually sprayed it white when he was supposed to do beige, explaining to my mom that our last name, which was written on the order ticket, threw him off. He got it right eventually. Still, I remained envious of my friends whose homes boasted ice machines.

How I yearned to be able to simply press my Batman cup against a machine of my own during breaks from Super Mario Bros. or Nintendo Ice Hockey. Instead, I had to comb through bags of peas and frozen tomato sauce just to crack open a tray of low-grade cubes, which always seemed to take on the subtle flavor of leftovers.

Refilling the ice tray was especially torturous.

Now that I have arrived, having purchased my first home in December, I can say this: Never did I imagine that this long-coveted machine would throw my life into such a tizzy.

Let me quickly note that my wife, Suzanne, is afraid of her own shadow. God forbid I get home 10 minutes early and happen to stumble upon her blow-drying her hair; one day the neighbors are going to hear her screams and call the police.

My working nights in Manhattan a few years back was also a challenge for us. Waking Suzanne at 12:45 a.m. to let her know I was home was always heart-wrenching. It was tough to see my companion of six years stare at me with a look of terror before she realized who I was. I tried different approaches, but the results were always the same. I always felt bad for her, too, considering she had just three or four hours of sleep left after each ordeal.

Now I just feel bad for me. Especially when ice levels in the house are low.

You see, when that magical ice machine, like an outer space nebula spinning dust into a newborn star, pushes that perfectly formed piece of crystal into the tray with its brothers, my wife wakes up.

The lower the ice level, the louder the clunk of ice on ice.

She’s usually not sure what woke her up, she just knows it’s something. And she’s not going back to sleep unless I walk through the house like a maniac in my boxer shorts and socks with a T-ball bat in hand.

I even have to check the unfinished basement just in case brazen burglars decide it would make sense to play some Ping-Pong in the middle of a heist that, incidentally, wouldn’t net them much unless pawn shops are now paying top dollar for antiquated computers and old Time magazines.

My wife is often fast asleep upon my return. Having no one to talk to, I usually just put the bat away and lie down with my heart pumping — because even after circling houses and apartments hundreds of times in my life with a bat or blade, there’s still a part of my brain gearing up for that long-awaited, rage-fueled encounter.

That day may come just yet.

And after I get finished with the bat, we’ll probably have to buy a new refrigerator.

Michael White is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-298-3200, ext. 152.