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February 7, 2011 9:48 AM   Subscribe

How 'The Fridge' lost his way. A profile of William 'The Refrigerator' Perry.
posted by zarq (37 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
and to support his 400 pounds, he shuffles to the living room on two legs

I see what they did there.

Sorry, going to finish the article now.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:56 AM on February 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I read this the other day. How terribly sad.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:56 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


For reference, this is his G.I. Joe action-figure.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:03 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


very sad. i loved him when i was a little kid.
posted by anya32 at 10:06 AM on February 7, 2011


Really sad. Jeezus.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:06 AM on February 7, 2011


Apropos to some of the discussion in the NFL thread below as well.
posted by blucevalo at 10:10 AM on February 7, 2011


It's a sad story. He finished his career here with the Eagles, and I vaguely remember him fighting Manute Bol. What a weird, wild world.
posted by fixedgear at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I vaguely remember him fighting Manute Bol.

Here's that fight.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:15 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apropos to some of the discussion in the NFL thread below as well.

Sounded like his alcoholism and refusal to deal with medical conditions have more to do with his current state than playing injuries.

(Is he the heaviest player to ever score a Super Bowl touchdown? I would imagine so.)
posted by Joe Beese at 10:15 AM on February 7, 2011


*(Is he the heaviest player to ever score a Super Bowl touchdown? I would imagine so.)

No. That would be Mike Ditka's ego.
posted by Artichoke Dance Off!! at 10:17 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Is he the heaviest player to ever score a Super Bowl touchdown? I would imagine so.)

The only other enormous person I can think of that came close to doing so would Leon Lett.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:22 AM on February 7, 2011


He scored Sweetnesses touchdown. Damn. He and Dikta want it back. Of course.

Terribly sad article, but I do not feel sorrow for William Perry. He clearly has a death wish. He needs to take responsibility for his own care and life.
posted by AugustWest at 10:25 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I read stuff like this I'm glad I don't have a problem with alcohol. "Taking responsibility" sounds easy for those of us who don't, but it's clearly much harder than that for those who do.
posted by maxwelton at 10:49 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Because at some point in 2007, after the dental work, Perry's feet began going numb. And then his knees. And then his hands. For all intents and purposes, the Fridge was becoming frozen solid.

How does too cute by half shit like this get into professional writing? Jesus.

His construction company built the Winn Dixie near where I grew up. The whole town was abuzz that the Fridge was building our new grocery store. It's closed down now.
posted by ND¢ at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Joe Beese: Perhaps this had something to do with it?
posted by basicchannel at 10:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quite appropriate that an article titled "How 'The Fridge' lost his way" begins with "Aiken, SC". If you had lived there, and I had for ten years, you would know why. Between the old-money horse-racing business (winter training and boarding), the influx of Yankee nuclear engineers (Savannah River Site), and the attendant skewed demand for the most highly skilled doctors and medical staffs (a world-class cardiovascular center in a town of 150K), class strata established a new level of oppression that grinds local kids into the dirt. Those who lift themselves out do not do so unscathed.
posted by Ardiril at 10:53 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I worshiped that man as a boy. So sad. Get better, Fridge.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:53 AM on February 7, 2011


His construction company built the Winn Dixie near where I grew up. ... It's closed down now.
Presumably unrelated events.


It really is a sad story. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like it's going to have a happy ending.
posted by me3dia at 10:56 AM on February 7, 2011


He needs to take responsibility for his own care and life.

That's not how addiction works.
posted by docgonzo at 11:02 AM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


No...but thats how addiction starts.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:09 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Worse yet, the Fridge -- famous the world over for his stomach -- weighed exactly 190 pounds.

Oh no, not 190 pounds!
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2011


Oh no, not 190 punds!

Yeah, I really don't get this either. It seems like the author is implying that a significant chunk of that is water weight due to dehydration, but at the same time is somehow still buying into the conceit that 400+ pounds is a healthy weight.

Or maybe the author just likes his schadenfreude out in the open and we didn't pick up on it.
posted by atbash at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2011


AugustWest: "He clearly has a death wish. He needs to take responsibility for his own care and life."

My thought too. Almost certainly unconscious: if you gave him a lie detector test -- "Do you want to kill yourself?" -- he'd say no way, he'd pass that test, no problem.

But just because something is unconscious does not mean that it's not absolutely intentional, he may not know that he's doing it but he's doing it with all his might. Which is considerable, as it turns out.

Acronym for denial -- Don't Even Notice I Am Lying. He's living a lie. But it seems he won't be living it much longer.

Alcoholism doesn't give a damn about fame, ability, love, support, a good heart or a strong mind -- it laughs at all of these, and anything else, too, once it gets next to a person.

Alcoholism underlies all the rest of it. Had he been able to set it down, most of the rest of this would not have happened. And he's had chances to get it all together, more chances than most alcoholics ever get, he's had world-class care, remarkable amounts of love and support.

But love and support just can't stand in the face of alcoholism -- ask any family member who has watched their spouse or child or sibling or parent dissolve into nothing.

Real love, at this point in the process, would be (hopefully *will* be, though it doesn't look promising) real love would be getting him committed for chronic alcoholism. Let him come to understand that he will be institutionalized for the rest of his life if he cannot overcome the drinking.

Which he may not be able to do -- many alcoholics cannot ever do this. And it seems he now has wet-brain, not to mention a host of other physical problems; once a mind gets sogged out such is his has, the will often just totally obliterated, absolutely unable to stand in the face of the cravings that characterize alcoholism, unable to stand for even the shortest amount of time.

Go to any detox and you'll see this, talk to these people -- if they still have enough of a mind to talk with coherence, not yet totally blinded by alcoholism and/or spongy and soggy -- talk to them, watch the confusion they labor under, how baffled they are that they simply cannot leave it alone, that they absolutely cannot set it down, that they cannot stop, see and hear the heartache they live due to the understanding of what all of this has caused their loved ones, not to mention how it's trashed their own life.

Unless you've a totally cold heart you'll walk away acheful yourself, perhaps changed, perhaps come to an understanding that these people are no more at fault than if the illness they had was cancer -- would you blame them for not 'just saying no' to cancer? Polio?

I think it's good that it's written, sad though it is; because of his fame, his situation will enter into the minds and hearts of those who read it, his fame brings to the light the life lived in any family with active alcoholism.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:26 AM on February 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


What a sad story.

190 pounds
I read this as the author's way of illustrating just how sick Perry had become. Perry went from weighing 380 (his normal weight, give or take) down to 190. Perry lost half of his entire weight.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:35 AM on February 7, 2011


Alcoholism is strange. Accepting the "fact" that one is alcoholic is nearly impossible. A lot of us laugh about it, "Hah yeah, I am alcoholic. Pour me another drink." But at the visceral level, actually feeling and understanding at the most fundamental level, that you have to stop drinking or you will die a most unpleasant death - it's not really something you choose, any more than you choose to like broccoli or be homosexual.

You do have a choice about your behavior, though. Enter cognitive dissonance. Maybe you really feel you are alcoholic, maybe you don't. But you have to stop drinking. And you don't want to. A death wish is a good way of putting it. It's fatalistic, nihilistic. You have to have a reason to not drink that is better than a reason for drinking, even if you think drinking isn't a problem.

It's a cliche, but alcoholics have to hit rock bottom before they'll quit - and everyone's rock bottom is different. Some folks embarrass themselves at a party, or spend a night in jail and never drink again. Some folks die before they hit their rock bottom.
posted by Xoebe at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


class strata established a new level of oppression that grinds local kids into the dirt.

So Aiken is anytown, USA. Noted.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:53 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


> It's a cliche, but alcoholics have to hit rock bottom before they'll quit - and everyone's rock bottom is different.

Or, they can have caring people around them who stick to some sort of established bottom line (ie. not giving them money or shelter, denying contact, etc). The problem with Mr. Perry is that he has money and people who will indulge him solely because he is a celebrity. It would seem that he has it worse than someone who is dependent on others.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:54 AM on February 7, 2011


Terribly sad article, but I do not feel sorrow for William Perry. He clearly has a death wish. He needs to take responsibility for his own care and life.

I'll never understand why people equate "it's his own fault" with "I do not feel sorrow for him." It makes me quite angry. Nobody deserves that kind of suffering, even people who bring it on themselves. He's a human being and he's suffering -- how can you not feel sorrow?
posted by callmejay at 12:12 PM on February 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's a cliche, but alcoholics have to hit rock bottom before they'll quit - and everyone's rock bottom is different.

And a big [citation needed] for this and every other cliche involving alcoholism and addiction. Just because addition isn't exactly like diabetes doesn't mean you should throw the scientific method out the window. Anecdotes from AA don't always stand up to empirical research and you may be doing more harm than good by essentially telling people that there's no hope for them until they get even worse (or that they have to be 100% abstinent, etc. etc.)

Jesus, when someone questions vaccinations, Metafilter (rightfully) jumps all over them, but when it's addiction, any kind of dogma is acceptable as long as it fits in with AA or your personal just-world fallacy.
posted by callmejay at 12:16 PM on February 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


> And a big [citation needed] for this and every other cliche involving alcoholism and addiction.

Yeah, I'd like to see "rock bottom" replaced with something that like "point of catalyzing disgust". A person doesn't have to be utterly ruined to escape addiction, but they do need to have an experience that where they are is unacceptable, and a strong enough one that can actually motivate them to seek help. But yeah, "rock bottom" has the connotation that you just have to be materially destroyed or something horrible has to occur before any good can come.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:22 PM on February 7, 2011


I wish him mercy and I wish him peace, and I wish for him to be able to free himself from the "demon drink." I feel his problem is that he never knew how to get along in his glory days being "normal" as in not drunk. He gave a lot of us a lot of pleasure over the years; should we not wish for him to find himself now?
posted by Lynsey at 12:32 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I met the guy a few summers ago at a St. Paul Saints game, nice guy, got his autograph, had no idea who he was.
posted by wheelieman at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2011


I want to cry.

I was wondering what had happened to him just last night. This is not good.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:16 PM on February 7, 2011


So Aiken is anytown, USA.

Not even close. I have lived in many Anytowns, USA. I have lived in many Anytowns, SE USA. They don't even come close.
posted by Ardiril at 3:15 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I idolized him, like most young Bears fans. I think I might have even had the G.I. Joe figure. Damn, this was not a pleasant way to start the morning.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:49 PM on February 7, 2011


His freshman season of 1981 was about as good as it gets.

What a glorious fall that was. All crisp and clear and perfect and shit (even if Clemson did basically buy one of their wins that season by playing Wofford College, a small school of about 1200).

class strata established a new level of oppression that grinds local kids into the dirt.

Yeah. If Whit Stillman ever decides to make movies again, he should make one about Aiken. Or Camden.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2011


Stillman would definitely have a handle on the horsey set.
posted by Ardiril at 9:18 PM on February 7, 2011


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