Monday, May 20, 2013

Totally Toasted OR: Smoke Em' If Ya Got 'Em

When I was a kid, I had this dark HBO-esque fantasy where I would take two pieces of bread, and they were like two biddies going to a spa day together. I'd put them into the toaster oven/tanning bed, imagining some invisible & insincere attendant promising them beautiful, golden tans. Then they'd come out, all stiff and brown, and I'd imagine his mock horror; "Oh dear, ladies, let's get something soothing on that right away," as I smoothed the margarine on. Then I imagined the complimentary "natural preserves treatment" he added as an apology -- usually my Mom's homemade peach-nectarine jam -- and coddled them in fluffy fresh white paper towels. Then, just when the affronted duo were just beginning to settle down, I'D EAT THEM OM NOM NOM NOM NOM. And the attendant, who'd been in on it, laughed and laughed. I know -- creepy.

But that was when we got the new toaster oven, sleek and spiffy and white; that was after the Incident With The Last Toaster.

Ahhh, memories - crazy, terrifying memories

The last toaster was my first toaster, in that it had already been a well-established resident of our household before I was born. It had served us well, or at least I assume it did, through my infancy and toddlerhood -- it's hard to be definite about anything before I was tall enough to see over the counter, of course. Unfortunately, as I was almost through kidhood and just about to cast my eye upon the pree-teen era, it started to show Signs. You know; getting tired easily, its jointings stiffer, all the hallmarks of advancing age. We were worried about it, of course -- started keeping a closer eye on it, seeing how it was doing, etc. But sometimes you need to make some toast AND do something else, gods forbid, and as riveting as the toasting process is through that little window, you walk away. This model had a spring-action linked to its timer function, which would cause the little door to burst open and the tray to pop out, presenting you with your toast with a flourish and a rather celebratory-sounding ding! And I'd had a few years to be trained to that sound, my Pavlovian promise of the first meal of the day.

So I go, preparing for my day in the way children do -- not caring about my hair, or my clothes, only techincally brushing my teeth, blah -- waiting to hear the ding. But on this, the secret final day, our toaster was Godot. I eventually came back to the kitchen, wondering why it hadn't dinged yet, and looked over to find our kitchen counter the stage for some dark and tortured hellscape now being enacted. The toaster's hatch was still shut tight, but through its little window I could see rolling smoke and tongues of open flame. I was appalled, and uncertain of how to proceed. Our friendly, once-familiar toaster was posessed. I advanced one tenative step towards the monster, and the hatch sprung open -- probably at the vibration through the floor and not, as it appeared to me at the time, to gobble me up -- and twin pillars of flame stabbed upwards as the tray popped out. At the base of each fiery column was the charred remains of a piece of toast.

I do not remember if it dinged. I know -- its last words. Haunts me still.

 I do remember yelling for Mom, in the way that any sensible person under the age of twenty thirty forty might do if they know there's someone more capable around. I remember her bustling with terrified efficiency to tame the fire demon, and a looooonnng lecture afterwards about fire safety in which I was like, Tell it to the toaster. And I still had to go to school, which seemed like a terrible waste of an emergency -- this was like the death of a family pet, it should have at least been a half day with a note.

RIP, First Toaster -- you will always be remembered. Because trauma will do that to you.


  1. You got a lecture because the toaster caught on fire? Well that hardly seems fair! Surely that's the point of a toaster, that it just does it's thing and you don't have to watch it the whole time.

  2. The toaster that became a crematorium. I hope you gave it a decent retirement with a modest but adequate pension.

    1. They should've put that on the box: At end of product's life, item is SELF-CREMATING! WOW!!!!

  3. Replies
    1. Also, The Hand. You may tell it to that as well.

      Fun Fact: That comment would've been hip then.

  4. Tell it to the toaster. I love it. This is hilarious!