The inferno, revisited...
(c) David Volk 2003

"At the bottom of the well Dante finds himself on a huge frozen lake. This is COCYTUS, the NINTH CIRCLE, the last great water of hell, and here, fixed in the ice, each according to his guilt are punished sinners guilty of TREACHERY AGAINST THOSE TO WHOM THEY WERE BOUND BY SPECIAL TIES."

--Intro to Canto XXXII of Dante's "The Inferno."

If you're not familiar with "The Inferno" or "The Divine Comedy," let me fill you in. It's a travelogue. Of HELL. If anyone ever tells you to go to Hell, buy this book. This way, if their wish comes true, at least you'll have a road map.

On this particular level of Hell, the no-goodnicks are the worst kind of evil-doers: Those without any allegiance or loyalty, traitors, and turn-coats. They are frozen in great blocks of ice.

Dante proceeds to count them off: Cain, Judas Iscariot, Brutus, Cassius (not Clay).

I have it on good authority that Dante missed one of the residents, however. He saw it, but he didn't know what to call it because it hadn't been invented yet. If Dante had gone to the NOSTRADAMUS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED, BIZARRE, STRANGE-SOUNDING PREDICTIONS THAT WILL COME TRUE NO MATTER HOW STUPID THEY SOUND and taken the course required for graduation, HOW TO NAME THINGS THAT YOU CAN'T IDENTIFY BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T BEEN INVENTED YET, he would have known what to call it.

He might have called it THE GREAT METALLIC PRESERVER, THE MYSTERIOUS FOOD KEEPER or THE ICE BOX. But, as I said before, he didn't go, so he didn't know.

Nostradamus predicted World War II air battles referring to exchanges between "hornets" in the sky. Because Dante was not able to tell the tale, I will step into the void. The unnamed evil-doer lives in our house. I call it THE REFRIGERATOR FROM HELL.

This is a machine that does its job admirably. Unfortunately, a little too admirably. Especially in the ice department. It's one of those GE's with the automatic ice maker on the freezer side. When we push the CRUSHED ICE button on the freezer door, that's what we get. We hear the coils in the freezer grinding and wheezing, chopping and crushing. And then we wait. And nothing happens.

At least not until we open the freezer door to investigate. Then, the REFRIGERATOR FROM HELL virtually vomits forth shards, pebbles and boulders of the concoction, which go skittering across the kitchen floor, leaving us looking like so many hunchbacks from Notre Dame, scattering to grab up all the ice before it melts all over the linoleum, turning the kitchen into Missouri on the first warm spring day after a heavy snow: the land of melting tundra. Watching the spectacle is enough to make you think you've arrived just in time for the Eygor look-alike portion of the annual Lon Chaney Film Fest.

Now, only visitors are silly enough to push the crushed ice button.

Since we've learned not to ask for crushed ice, the freezer has developed a new trick. For lack of a better name, I'll call it THE ICE CAPADES.

The Ice Capades is a little game that our freezer apparently thinks is fun. It consists of working overtime so that, when a new ice cube is formed, it automatically attaches itself to the mass of already formed ice cubes just hanging around and waiting to be used. An iceberg soon develops. As a result, whenever someone in the house wants an ice cube, the unfortunate victim must don mittens, ice picks, rakes and shovels and other implements of destruction and prepare to stand in front of the ice box a good long time, all the while trying to hack out a slab of ice. Eventually, when everyone has had enough of this, a foolhardy soul decides defrosting might be a good idea.

This does not happen very often.

The last time we tried to defrost the freezer, we had to leave the freezer door open and rig up a contraption that would allow a hairdryer to blow directly into the ice compartment. I can't tell you how silly my mother looked standing there, holding a Conair 1500 pointed at the ice compartment. Even with the blow dryer on high setting, it still took more than two hours to thaw that sucker out.

As of late, we've tried a different tack. We have taken to turning off the ice maker. (What a radical concept.) There's just one problem. Even though we've turned the ice maker off, somebody neglected to tell the icemaker.

Be Well. Go in Peace. Be Considerate to Others. And clean up when you're done,

David G. Volk