Refrigerating The Romans Back

It was the year 2040. A child, of approximately 12 or 13 years old, sat down at his table. He got out his computer and a virtual reality mask. He was going to write a small research paper, but at least he decided to make his research more fun. He connected the mask to his computer and typed in the right keywords. After a second or two, a program began running, showing images via the mask. The boy put on headphones and listened…


“Dear user, we will be taking multiple leaps in time to discuss your question. I will be your virtual guide through the ages. Make sure to take notes! Now, we will be making our journey soon. Get comfortable!” said a robotic voice in the boy’s headphones. “Our first stop is Roman Empire, Baths of Caracalla, around 300 AD. It could be any other Roman bath, but this one was in Rome, and thus, the most important one. We see a big atrium with mosaic on the floor, massive columns, and some statues,” said the voice as the images projected into the mask gained colour and sharpness. Whatever the voice described appeared before the boy’s eyes in all its grandeur, as if he was there, in Rome.  “There are also many people here, waiting to bathe,” heard the boy, as people appeared in his field of vision. Many were wearing woolen togas and speaking to each other, as the headphones filled with a background noise of people talking. “However, we are focusing on the bathhouse, and not the people,” said the program as the people started to fade away, leaving the atrium empty again.


“Upon entry, Romans went to apodyterium to leave their clothes. Then they would go through caldarium, or the hot room,” suddenly a button appeared, asking the boy if he wanted to know a quick fact. He agreed, thinking that the more information he learns, the better. The program then continued, “‘caldarium’ is where we get our word “cauldron’ from. Next, the person would go through tepidarium, the warm room. Finally, they would reach frigidarium, the cold room, to finish their bathing,” said the voice as another button appeared, identical to the last one. The boy agreed again, hearing, “’frigidarium’ also yields us a late Middle English word ‘frigid’ we still use today.”


At this point, the boy thought to himself how interesting it was that all these words were interconnected in a way that made sense. However, he did not have much time to think, as the program was continuing. “Next, we make our journey to Fort Wayne, Indiana, of 1919. After Nathaniel B. Wales and Alfred Mellows invented a self-contained, automatically operated ice-less refrigerator, William C. Durant, founder of General Motors, invested in their company. Since then, the company adopted the name “Frigidaire”, which is possibly where we get the word ‘fridge’ from. Although it is also possible that ‘fridge’ is a shorter form of ‘refrigerator’, which is a word used back in 1611 in reference to anything that cooled something down.”


All this time, the mask was showing the boy photos of old fridges and the men mentioned. He closed the program and quickly typed up what he remembered, spicing it up with some terrible puns with the word ‘cool’, which he thought were great. Finishing his draft, he got up from his seat, and, taking off the mask and headphones, shouted, “mom! Do you want to hear something cool?”