When a mess becomes an unexpected gift

No one is claiming responsibility.

It’s possible they were scared off by my rather loud verbal reaction when I came upon the scene of the crime. A crime, I admit, that probably started with a relatively good intention.

Last weekend, someone — a mystery someone — got the inspired idea to compensate for a lack of cold sodas in the fridge.

Anonymous put a room temperature can of Coke Zero in the freezer — which is a great idea, when you remember to take it out 30 minutes later.

When you don’t — when you leave it there for a few days and the soda can explodes and splashes across the entire freezer — then suddenly it’s not such a brilliant idea.

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“Look at this!” I summon each family member separately to survey the mess: the modern art brown ice sculpture cascading down the freezer walls. Chunks of Coke slush marinating bags of frozen vegetables. Beginnings of sticky brown drops dripping onto the kitchen floor as the door remains open.

All agree on disgust.

No one says, “Sorry. My bad.”

Someone else’s choice became my problem. My mess to clean up.

Life is like that.

The thought occurs to me as I drag out item after item coated in frozen brown fizzy muck.

Perhaps, you’ve been there, Dear Reader? One person’s seemingly well-intentioned, well-thought-out idea makes a mess.

A big mess.

It happens at work. In relationships. And apparently, in my freezer.

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These thoughts start thawing my frozen heart.

In the scheme of things, this freezer isn’t that big of a deal.

Indeed, it was a full freezer cleanout. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing Sunday night at 9. The excavation revealed 104 half-used bags of frozen vegetables, bread rolls with 2014 expiration.

Judge me only if your freezer looks like my friend Tricia’s. Spotless. Coded by alphabet and date.

Mine? Well, being able to close the door has been more my standard.

Like any other long-awaited purge, once I got started, I got into it. Tossing, wiping down, scrubbing drawers and shelves.

Again, the conversation in my head picks up where it left off.

I didn’t cause this mess.

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I wouldn’t have picked it.

Yet, it actually becomes a gift.

A Sunday at 9 p.m. party favor.

My freezer is now clean — not Tricia clean, but a clean that still shocks and delights me every time I open the freezer door.

Which ultimately becomes the punishment for all of them.

Guilty by association.

“Come look at this!” I show off each time a family member is close.

“Again?” they moan, their breath fogging in the cold freezer air.

Still not sure whodunit. But they won’t forget who cleaned it.

And the next time they stick a can of soda in a freezer will be, like, never.

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