Saturday, July 14, 2007

the toaster wars

o.k., i get it. we're doing appliances today.

i live with a man who is not an appliance junkie. the husband's only interest in things mechanical has to do with his cuisinart. he loves to cook and the only time i ever heard him cuss out an inanimate object was when his cuisinart dropped dead about two hours before a dinner party. i think the thing that upset him the most was that the french machine didn't even have the good grace to sputter and start for a few days before dying, it just gave out - a massive heart attack that no amount of cpr could resuscitate. he mourned for a few days, reluctant to, so quickly, replace an old friend but once he saw all the brand new and improved models of his former buddy, all was forgotten and he was on to the new.

our bedroom t.v. is old and about the size of a volkswagen beetle and the one in the den is not far behind. our clock radio, also soon to be placed on the endangered species list, has been with us as long as i can remember. in other words, electronics just don't play a large part in our home. that is why i didn't expect the husband's reaction when i brought home a new toaster oven.

replacing our toaster oven was not done on a whim. there was no new, sexier toaster out there beckoning to either me or the husband. it just died - just like the cuisinart. no warning. just one minute it was working and the next - dead. perhaps i should start giving my appliances lipitor. unlike the husband and the cuisinart, i had no emotional attachment to our toaster. i just dumped it in the trash and drove over to "bed, bath and beyond". (just what does beyond mean anyway? is it beyond the bed and bath or beyond our galaxy? i wonder about these things.)

did you know that there are about three hundred and fifty models of toaster ovens? as far as i could tell they all pretty much do the same thing. you can no longer buy a toaster oven that just toasts. these new and improved models, bake, broil and warm in addition to just plain toasting. and they are all digital. did i mention that digital is a dirty word in our house? for some reason digital is just something the husband has never gotten the hang of. the switch from dial phones to push buttons almost did him in and we are both too old to live through another revolution like that. i had no choice. i just figured i would buy the digital toaster and make the husband's toast for him - after all that is what a wife is for. maybe, after a few years of being toast dependent, he would catch on to the toast module. he really had no need for baking, broiling and warming , so i was hopeful.

i was also wrong. every morning for the past six months the husband has complained about the toaster. he seems to take it personally that the toaster has buttons and commands that baffle him. every morning he has to choose a mode and a temperature and a toast color. all of these decisions involve pushing buttons. for some reason, after all this time, he still can't seem to get the hang of it. i have offered, again and again, to make his toast for him but somehow he sees this as me, questioning his manhood. "it's not that hard" i tell him. "it shouldn't be hard at all" he replies. i offer to buy him a new toaster. not an oven just a toaster. the kind you put two slices of bread in and it toasts. nothing fancy - just white bread turning brown and crusty in a matter of minutes. he agrees.

i returned to "bed, bath and beyond" in search of 1950. i find, what i think is a perfect candidate. i buy it, bring it home, plug it in and wait for the morning. shouting from the kitchen at 8 a.m. is not a good sign. it seems the new, old-fashioned toaster has gone digital. they didn't show that nasty little feature on the box at "bed, bath and beyond" - perhaps they were trying to trick us old fogies. i now have two useless toasters in my kitchen but i think i have solved the problem.

i started shrinking the husband's pants in the dryer and moving the buttons on his waistbands. casually, over the past few weeks, i have been mentioning that he seems to have put on a little weight. yesterday all our troubles were over. he has gone on the atkin's diet - no bread allowed. this should give me a few weeks peace until i can scare up an antique toaster on ebay.