My wife is excellent at organizing the fridge. It’s a gift. People will open the refrigerator doors and stand in the draft of cold air, marveling at the precision with which the food has been packed. Despite the sheer volume of produce, the vegetable drawers are always easy to access, and you never have a problem selecting the carrots or the tomatoes, even if a normal person would have just piled them in there. And the dairy and meat drawers are a wonder of comestible engineering. A treatise or two could be written on space-saving theories developed from her use of the freezer.

When I say that it’s a gift, I mean that literally, in the old sense. It was a gift from the gods. Well, now that I think about it, perhaps “gift” isn’t the right word. It’s not like the Greek God of Electrical Kitchen Appliances swooped down one day and expanded her innate understanding of refrigerator organization. In actual fact, she had to defeat the god in ritual combat for the prize.

Kefalotyri is his name, one of the oldest of the new Greek pantheon. He is sometimes known as the glow in the cold of night. The Etruscans knew him as the Bringer of Toast. The Pennsylvania Dutch look away at the very mention of his name. A tribe in suburban Lima, Peru, travel every Easter to the temple they built for him on Lake Titicaca. They speak only ancient Quechua, but the translation of his multisyllabic and nearly unpronounceable name is rendered in English simply as, “The Waffler.” He has had many others names, all but a few lost over the centuries, most of them in the back of the cupboard.

As new things often do when they start to become old, Kefalotyri was tired and aimless. He had lost the energy that had once driven him to inspire innovations beyond the expectations of mortal man. He was unable to think of the next plateau, the next bread maker, the next microwave oven. He finally cracked after spending weeks tormenting the dreams of a chosen disciple, letting his godly fury pour forth to fill the mortal’s mind with visions of domestic demons that still needed to be conquered, the kitchen horrors that only a new electronic tool could remedy.

His disciple had risen in the middle of the night and feverishly drawn out the plans for a refrigerator unlike any other. Actually, it was pretty much exactly like every other. Except that in the door, beside the ice and water dispensers, this one also had a vent that shot a blast of blistering hot steam at you when you pushed a button.

Kefalotyri hung his head. He thought about smiting the disciple, but even that was too much for him. He needed to prove his godly worth. He needed to toy with a mortal. It was then that he laid eyes on my wife, and saw that her pride in her refrigerator organization skills could be her fatal flaw. Despite his recent setbacks, he smiled. A short time later, through the usual Greek standards—the appearance in a cloud, the disembodied booming voice, the attempted rape by a goat—he invited my wife to the challenge arena. On all sides hovered the shades of nameless gods, indistinct through a mist that rose from the arena.

My wife was dwarfed by the might of Kefalotyri. He stood on the packed red clay of the arena and flexed his muscles, the wind that his greatness called forth flapping his toga around his body in a manner that challenged traditional standards of modesty. My wife, on the other hand, stood in her jeans and a tan sweater, arms folded across her chest, looking unimpressed, but willing to allow the possibility that she might be impressed, if Kefalotyri really worked at it. Married men will be instantly familiar with this expression.

“Behold, mortal!” Kefalotyri swept his hands over the arena and the ground shook as two black refrigerators burst through the ground, showers of dirt cascading down their sides as they rose to their full, impressive height. Although at the time no one mentioned it, neither refrigerator had a steam vent in the door.

Kefalotyri turned a muscled finger towards my wife. “I challenge you to a contest of organization. If you can better arrange this fridge, then my godly powers will be added to your existing prowess. If I win, then I shall have you as my eternal bride.”

“Hold on a sec.”

“You sha—” Kefalotyri blinked, his booming god voice slipping slightly into what sounded almost like cockney English. “What’s that?”

“If I beat you, that means I’m better at organizing fridges, right?”

Kefalotyri paused, narrowing his eyes as he wondered whether there was a trick in this somewhere. “That’s right.”

“Then why would I want your organizational skills? I mean, mine are already better.”

“Um…mine are godly.”

“And what you’re getting seems a lot more valuable. I mean, I get your inferior skills, but if I lose, I have to live with you forever? You’ve got to make it more even than that.”

“Oh…” Kefalotyri seemed to think about this more a second. “How about if I win, you have to go with me for a year…”


“Um, you have to go on vacation…”


“You have to go to dinner with me?”

“Hmm. That sounds okay. But you’re buying.” This was a reasonable compromise, so I don’t hold it against her.

“Alright.” Kefalotyri cleared his throat and resumed his godly boom. “You shall fill this refrigerator with these groceries.” Two paper bags fell from the sky and landed beside each fridge in a poof of dust. “The first to complete the task in the most pleasing and ergonomically acceptable way will be deemed the winner.”

As my wife approached the bags, the doors of each fridge swung open, revealing a chaotic mess of jars, cans, plastic bags and old produce. “Pleasing according to whom?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Who gets to choose which is the most pleasing?”

“Er, um, the Panel of Judgment!” Kefalotyri snapped his fingers and a small table appeared nearby, where three conservatively dressed, middle aged people sat, two men and a woman, clipboards at the ready.

“Hmm. Alright.” My wife turned back to the fridge. “The first thing I’ll have to do is throw some of this old stuff out.”

“There will be no discarding from the fridge!” Kefalotyri boomed.

My wife raised her eyebrows. “Judges?”

The woman in the middle smiled. “We’ll allow it.”

“What? This is my contest!” A note of petulance entered Kefalotyri’s voice.

“We are the judges,” the man on the left said, peering at them over the spectacles resting on the end of his nose.

“That’s it! There will be no judges!”

“Judges?” My wife asked.

“We’re going to allow judges,” said the woman in the middle.

“What the…?” sputtered Kefalotyri. He moved toward the Panel of Judgment, then looked again at their clipboards and thought the better of it.

“Let us begin!”

At that my wife began her impeccable work, removing each item that held no place among the hallowed shelves and crispers of her refrigerator, showing mercy to those items not yet past their expiration dates, preserving places for slightly soft fruit and cheeses that could be salvaged if only a few spots were cut away. Kefalotyri, unprepared for this turn of events, was forced to revise the contents of his fridge haphazardly, discarding a perfectly good melon and then dumping an unopened quart of milk. The judges tutted and marked their clipboards.

Her canvas prepared, my wife turned to the bags. She pulled a head of lettuce from one, spun it on her palm and slid it into a corner of the crisper without putting a leaf out of place. She flipped the mustard over her back and batted it into its place beside the ketchup in the door. She shook a bottle of juice as she dove and rolled, flinging it onto the top shelf beside the milk, the pulp spinning like powder in a snow globe. The judges cooed, pencils scratching away.

Item by item, my wife stocked the fridge, lining up each beside the next, sliding the butter into the drawer, rolling the eggs into their slots, turning the fishsticks on their sides and pinning them to the wall of the freezer with a bag of peas and carrots.

In the end, Kefalotyri remained standing, but barely. He swayed on his feet, hands hanging loosely at the ends of limp arms, his once majestic toga spattered with the food stains of his work. The judges watched, motionless, pencils raised, clipboards readied. At last, inevitably, Kefalotyri fell to his knees, the light from the still-open fridge door falling across his back. The judges made a flurry of notes on their clipboards before they began conferring.

My wife patted Kefalotyri on the back and was kind enough to help him organize his fridge while the judges judged. A few moments later, the woman stood up at the judging table and cleared her throat. Once my wife and Kefalotyri had come to attention, they announced her the winner and thanked everyone for a great competition.

Obviously, the prize only enhanced my wife’s skills. It doesn’t tell you why she is so good at fridge organization, but does explain some of the finer nuances of her expertise. For example, the story illustrates why our cheese drawer sometimes glows with a divine light. It also, tangentially, explains why your fridge does not blast hot steam at you when you press a button.

# # #

Domestic Diva by Alex Gorman
originally published in the Spring 2012 print edition



Alex Gorman has degrees in biology and mass communication and uses neither of them. Instead, he sells software for a living and dotes on his wife, son, and daughter. With what free time he has left, he writes. You can find out more about his adventures on his blog,

For more of Alex's work,
visit his Big Pulp author page


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