misadventures in freezer cleaning (a.k.a. how not to prepare for a baby)

It's time for another guest post from my husband! You may remember his others, which can be found here and here, but this time I think he has outdone himself. Here's Mike telling the story of how we are bad parents already and we don't even have our kid yet. I was going to write this myself, but he beat me to it, which is fine except that if I'd written it, you probably would not get quite the same tone of passive innocence on his part. Also I may have one or two things to add as we go along, in which case you'll find me in this handy purple font. So, you know, you can tell us apart. Okay, buckle up, ladies and gents, this is a long one:

About four weeks ago (Saturday, September 12th) I decided to clean out our small chest freezer which is in a small closet in what will soon become the baby’s bedroom. Originally, I was only planning dinner for the evening and looking for something to make. Since the freezer was disorganized and almost overflowing and I couldn’t find anything to make, I decided that I might as well clean out the freezer and organize as well. That way, I figured, I could see what we had and more easily determine what Amy and I would have for dinner. Deciding what to eat is more my territory these days, given that Amy doesn’t usually care what she eats, as long as it is food. She mainly just eats to survive and grow our child; she doesn’t seem to crave much food (at least healthy-ish food).

That's true. And I'm 33 weeks pregnant and I've only gained 14 pounds. Go ahead and hate me. I would too, if I were you. Though I probably would have traded some of the 20+ weeks of morning sickness for a few extra pounds.

I started pulling out all of the packages of frozen food and putting them on piles—chicken, hamburger, corn, bread, ice cream, etc…. Once I had all of the food sorted in the small closet where the chest freezer is located, I looked at the expiration dates, or dates when I created the packages of food (e.g., the date I bought the 15 pounds of hamburger at BJ’s and created smaller, usable portions of meat—for tacos, spaghetti sauce or hamburgers).

Since some of the dates were too old for what I still deemed an acceptable period of time in which to each such food, I threw some of the packages of food out the closet door, into the second bedroom, the room which we are in the process of transforming in to a baby’s bedroom. There was some freezer burnt ice cream, some hamburger past its prime, some really old bread, and numerous other things which had gone uneaten too long.

Once I was done being judge, jury and executioner for all of our frozen food, those foods which were deemed still edible were loaded back into the chest freezer in an organized fashion—hopefully to be eaten in the near future, instead of me having to throw them away the next time I get bored and decide to clean the freezer.

After reloading the freezer, I exited the closet to collect those items of food which were chosen to live out their lives in a landfill, instead of in our stomachs. I picked up the packages, dumped them in a garbage bag and dropped the garbage bag down the garbage chute, hoping to never see them again. For anybody who has ever visited us, you may know that this is an unlikely hope, given that our garbage men and containers are anything but clean. On Monday morning, as Amy and I walked to work past the garbage dumpsters outside our building, one of the dumpsters was not closed completely and after the garbage truck’s attempt to empty it, some of my meat was now covering the parking lot. Gross.

Around Wednesday of that week, Amy noticed a gross smell coming from the baby’s room. It smelled like it was coming from the bigger closet in the room, at the opposite corner of the room from the freezer closet. The smell was rather disgusting—it smelled like there was a dead mouse in the closet. I was highly annoyed at the prospect of removing everything from that closet in an attempt to find the dead mouse, especially since Amy, her parents and I had recently moved everything out of that closet, organized it and rearranged it so that we could fit all of the baby’s stuff in the bedroom. So, I did a half-assed search, smelling around, moving things, but to no avail—I couldn’t find the source of the smell. We hoped the smell would soon go away.

That weekend (September 18th-20th), Amy and I traveled to Connecticut for Amy’s baby shower. Amy and I were discussing the smell with Amy’s father, he suggested that it was probably just a dead mouse stuck in the wall somewhere, he has that problem occasionally, and after three or four days the smell should go away after the mouse has had sufficient time to dry up. This seemed like a likely explanation, so we continued to hope that the smell would go away soon.

The next week, the smell came and went. Some days you could hardly notice it, other days it was very much in your face. Every day when I came home from work the smell was there initially, at least at some potency, but usually it wasn’t that strong, so we got used to it. Around Wednesday of that week Amy sent me an email when she got home from work to tell me she was a super sleuth. She was near the bedroom window and notice that the smell was particularly strong near the window, when the wind blew in. She deduced that the odor was coming from a dead squirrel or something outside our open windows. To cure the problem, Amy turned on the air conditioner and closed the windows. This seemed to help, at least a little bit. Every once in a while over the next couple of days we could get a whiff of the gross odor, but for the most part it seemed to be gone.

The following Sunday (September 27th) I was drilling some holes to hang a few things on the walls of our apartment. When I was finished, as I was putting my tools away in the same closet as the freezer, I pushed a large box that was half-way off the shelf back to its proper location on the shelf. As I was doing so, I felt a plastic bag under the box. Picking the bag up, to my surprise (and disgust) the bag was a Ziploc freezer bag with half of a chicken in it. The chicken, if you could still call it that, was green, moldy and liquid. Apparently, when I was cleaning out the freezer the bag got pushed under the box and never found its way back into the freezer. Holding back vomit, I showed the meat to Amy and told her that I found what I was cooking for dinner that night, almost causing her to vomit in my face. I ran the juicy bag of poultry to the garbage chute and deposited the bag down the abyss.

I did almost vomit. It was unbelievably disgusting. I may have also done some yelling and swearing that Mike is never allowed to clean the freezer again.

The floor where the chicken laid didn’t particularly smell, but I blanketed the area with Febreze in an attempt to mask and hopefully eliminate the smell. The apartment continued to smell slightly, but we just attributed this to lingering odor that absorbed in to the carpet. We continued to spray Febreze and air out the rooms, and figured after a while, the smell would clear out.

Another week passed, but the smell never quite went away. On the weekend of October 2nd-4th we traveled to Pennsylvania for my cousin Brian and Sarah’s wedding reception. On the way we picked up our baby’s new crib and dresser/changing table. Upon returning to New Jersey on Sunday afternoon, after our friend Eddie helped me haul the baby’s furniture into our apartment, we sat down in the baby’s room to assemble the crib.

As I was laying out the hardware in the middle of the room, I noticed two or three little black cocoon-like bugs. I picked them up and threw them away, assuming they came in on my shoes or something—hoping that they didn’t come from the furniture or mattress. After assembling the crib, Amy said she wanted to go to Target to get a few things for the baby. At Target I decided to get some air fresheners/odor absorbers, hoping that they would also help to eliminate the lingering odor.

For the first day or so, the new air fresheners seemed to be controlling and eliminating the odor. When I got home from work on Wednesday, October 7th, I found Amy in what she has deemed “full nesting mode”. Apparently I married a bird, and since Amy is almost ready to pop her “egg” out, she feels the need to build a nest. Fortunately, not all of it is made out of sticks and leaves, although the crib does look as though it was made out of twigs—very expensive twigs. As Amy was re-sorting the items located on a cube-shelving system, she told me that the odor was particularly strong near the end of the futon.

Apparently someone (me?) neglected to tell my husband that all pregnant women nest, and that he hasn't seen anything yet. Should we tell him about how he should be prepared to remodel the entire apartment over the next seven weeks to calm my crazy nesting frenzies? Perhaps not.

I was getting fed up with this odor nonsense, so I ripped the futon away from the wall and gasped at the grotesque sight before my eyes. At the opposite end of the futon from where I was standing was ANOTHER package of what used to be frozen meat. This time, however, it wasn’t juicy chicken stowed safely inside an impenetrable Ziploc freezer bag, but rather a pound of ground hamburger specifically portioned for tacos, wrapped inside white freezer/butcher’s paper. Such paper apparently is not able to withstand the intrusion of little white bugs/larva. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a roll of paper towels and the garbage can. I tried to pick up the package of hamburger but it was stuck. STUCK TO THE CARPET AS A RESULT OF LEAKING COW BLOOD ALL OVER THE PLACE! Disgusting.

I pried the package off the floor, leaving behind a nice big, gross red and black stain on the floor. Also crawling around the creamy colored carpet were numerous black bugs/larva and also little white larva crawling around. They blend in easily and are hard to see. I picked up and popped—spewing pus/bug guts—all of the black and white bugs that I could see. I vacuumed the area multiple times hoping to collect those that I couldn’t see.

So now, I have the task of trying to get ride of a juicy beef blood stain from my carpet before our baby arrives. Hopefully I will find some free time to rent a Rug Doctor to clean the entire baby’s room. Amy also plans to re-wash all of the baby clothing and diapers which she already spent so much time washing over the past few weeks, since most of them were stored near the futon, and may contain all manner of absorbed reeking smell and/or bugs.

You can guess how my fingers were itching to interrupt the last few paragraphs, but I refrained, in order to allow you to take it all in. Let me just be sure you understood that in our innocent unborn child's room there have been two, count them, TWO piles of rotting foul meat. Not to mention the bugs and the reeking smell and the fact that we have to Rug Doctor the room and I can't lift a damn thing to help.

And all the baby laundry I have to do again because I can't live with the fact that any of it might contain bugs or reeking smell. Of course, I'd probably be a lot more upset about that fact if I didn't love doing baby laundry. All those cute tiny things to fold!

Ages ago, when we first found the chicken, I told Mike I was going to write the story here. He said, direct quote, "You're not going to blame me, are you?"

Why, no, honey, NO! Of course not. You sweet, innocent thing, where in this could I possibly blame you? YES OF COURSE I'M GOING TO BLAME YOU, WHO ELSE WOULD I BLAME?

And that, folks, was before the second pile of rotting meat was discovered. Ahem. This was supposed to be Mike's post. I'll just let him wrap it up.

The only explanation for how this package of meat got under the futon was that when I was throwing the meat to throw away out the freezer closet door, this particular package took a nasty bounce and landed under the futon. Either that or the cat knocked it around and pushed it under the futon, which seems unlikely.

We don’t even have the baby yet and we have twice created an unsanitary place for the baby to live once it arrives. Hopefully the odor will finally go away now—what are the chances that there is a third package of rotting, rancid meat in our apartment?


Anonymous said...

Oh my, you both write so expressively that the odor is lingering in my office! I am sure you can hear me LAUGHING!! Now, Amy, don't deny Mike the privilege of cleaning out the freezer. Next time give him a heavy duty plastic bag in which to place the unwanted items - past prime meat, unsavory vegetables, etc. My main concern about the two of you is why you wouldn't have eaten ALL the ice cream before it was lit on fire with freezer burn? You are the only people I know that would buy ice cream and still have it after 3 days!! I like your comedy routine in black and purple - would like it better face to face. Come to think of it, instead of watching Letterman tonight, I'll just re-read today's post!!! love you both, gg

Anonymous said...

Oh, you guys are so funny!!! You could replace Letterman. Maybe he'll be looking for a new job after his shenanagins!

Thais said...

omg...i totally gagged not once but TWICE during taht story...and i deal with poop and blood all day long....i can remember Mike cleaning hte freezer/fridge in colelge and him doing it in a manicky-type way and throwing stuff...it probably bounce and got hidden...could happen to the best of us! there is NOTHING worst then rotting meat...BLECH

Katherine said...

My goodness! My first thought was: why do you have ice cream left in your freezer? Then as I kept reading I was laughing so hard that Phil had to keep pausing his show so I didn't interrupt it! I hope you can rid the carpet of the smell and all the little bugs, or poor turkey will have a lovely welcome into the world!

Thank you for sharing your story :) It made my day!

maresi said...

I'd say those chances are quite high, Mike, given your record thus far. I'd keep looking if I were you.

That is the most foul thing I can even imagine. Amy, do you now want to revert to your herbivore ways?

(my word verification is "visions", which is what I'm gonna keep having after reading this descriptive post)

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Mike picked up and "popped" the larvae. That is probably hands-down the most disgusting thing I have ever heard! Like, why go to the trouble of "popping" them ... just scoop them up with paper towels and take the trash outside pronto!!

Anonymous said...

That is soo gross, even months later. I must confess that I have done something similar and my exhusband would have some very bold purple commentary.
Peace, Love, and Cleanliness,


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