The WCOID – Day 19, On Toast and Memories
What would you run out of the house with if your home caught on fire
Yesterday my parents celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary. And when I say “celebrated,”I mean my dad watched Law & Order reruns in the living room, while my mom watched her Korean Dramas in the bedroom … so pretty much the same thing they do everyday. But that’s not unusual or a red flag that the honeymoon is suddenly over after only 53 years. It’s just how they are and how they’ve always been.
I’m not writing about them anyway. I guess it’s possible that as I’m putting down words, deep and profound thoughts about marriage and the nature of love, loyalty and commitment may emerge. Or I could go off on wild tangent and end up discussing how weasels have started piloting woodpeckers.
You just never know …
I brought up their anniversary as a stepping stone to my actual topic — their toaster. As you can see below, it looks like a regular toaster … a couple of slots for the bread, a power cord, a lever to operated the the thing that makes the bread go up and down up (toast elevator?) … nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. But even though it doesn’t look like anything special, there is something about it that I find sort of amazing: they got the toaster as a wedding gift. And, they still use it every day; which means that it’s made roughly 40,000 pieces of toast ... I think. One of you should probably check my math.
As a person who regularly abandons gadgets and electronics as soon as the next big thing comes along, the thought of hanging onto something so basic and ordinary is a bit of a foreign concept to me. Didn’t they ever want one that could toast bagels or sear images of Darth Vader or Hello Kitty on the bread? My dad would say it’s still being used because it still works. Which, of course, makes sense if you insist on being all logical about it.
I never thought about the toaster ( or any of their appliances because that would be weird) until a year or so ago when my dad mentioned it as an example of how “things used to be made to last.” I still don’t think about their other appliances (again, weird …), but I’ve thought a lot about that toaster and the stories it could tell — provided it was a sentient being rather than a shiny metal bread heater-upper. It’s been sitting quietly on the counter, silently observing everything that took place in that kitchen. The toaster looked on when, as an infant, my older brother was being weighed and managed to roll off the scale and onto the table … then from the table to the chair and from the chair to the floor. Or when my younger brother stood up on one of the kitchen chairs in his stocking feet, not long after my mom had sprayed it with furniture polish, making it very slippery. They both went down hard, but neither was hurt … kids can be remarkably bouncy.
The toaster saw all of our Easter egg coloring extravaganzas — from when we we so little, we got more dye on ourselves than on the eggs, to when we we were old enough to make Pysanky with the family down the street. It was also in its place on the counter when we gutted pumpkins on Halloween, made gingerbread houses at Christmas and even had a non-holiday related taffy-pull … which produced taffy with a decidedly gray hue because no one told us to wash our hands before we started pulling. Mmmm … yummy!
When the blackberry bush in the backyard had a very productive season and there were more berries than we could eat, my mom thought it might be fun to try and make wine from them. The fact that when she tried to make pickles the jars exploded, as did the batter (some of which ended up on the ceiling) when the project of the day was homemade donuts.
The blackberry wine experiment didn’t end with anything blowing up, but I did learn a thing or two. For instance, if you like wine you should buy at the store the way God intended. But if you don’t like wine and want to keep disliking it, try making a batch of your own, using whatever surplus fruit you have laying around the kitchen. It’s horrible, with a hint of gross and subtle undertones of disgusting. You’ll love hating it!
It was also there for the less than fun events. Like the time I annoyed and aggravated my brother the point he reached into the refrigerator, grabbed an egg and smashed it on my head. Karma must have been on his side that day, because the egg turned out to be rotten. Have you ever had a rotten egg broken on your head? I don’t recommend it.
Assaulting people with food is likely something he inherited from our mother. Because the toaster also witnessed her getting so tired of me playing with my food that she reached across the table and plopped a big spoonful of mashed potatoes on my head.
That little toaster has been there for all the laughs and every tear, for each Thanksgiving dinner and all the midnight snacks, for every argument and every apology … it’s been a part of my family longer than I have. So while some families pass down expensive jewelry, a priceless piece of art or valuable antiques to each generation, I just want the toaster. There are those who would say it’s hardly worth the effort it would take to throw it away, but it’s so much more to me. And, I could never throw it away, it’s full of all our memories.