Monday, June 28, 2010

My Pixar Moment

My range oven hasn't worked since it went crazy Thanksgiving day last year.  It's electronic brain just couldn't take it any more, so the default setting became EVERYTHING ON ALL THE TIME!!!  This turns out to be a very fast method of cooking, which would be fine if you planned on having dinner at 9:30 a.m.  We hadn't.

Most people opt for a meal time in early to mid afternoon on Thanksgiving.  The perpetual parade of football bowl games sometimes lingers in the background; the soundtrack of an American holiday.  This timing gives all gathered a chance to gorge, unbuckle, swoon & eventually head back to their own humble abodes down ribbons of highway engulfed in the gloom of a Pacific Northwest November.  I work on holidays, and by the time I got home, the frazzle effect on my spouse of the recalcitrant appliance was fully deployed.  Her immediate solution had been to turn off the breaker for the stove.  Then turn it on again when the oven cooled some, then off, then on.  Ingenious to be sure, but not very efficient, and it deprived her of practical use of the stove top, which otherwise worked fine.

I should mention that I am the go-to-guy for fixing things in my family.  I have tools of every description and actually know how to use them.  Upon arrival I deployed my diagnostic skills to great advantage and tackled the problem.  After several quick tests I had reached my conclusion:  "It's broken", I announced.  Apparently that had already been ascertained by the assembled hungry hordes.  My assessment was greeted with stifled yawns, glances at watches and an exhortation of exasperation from my beleaguered wife.

The immediate fix was to deploy some portable gas burners left over from our catering days, and fire up the BBQ to use as a makeshift roaster.  Dinner was achieved, gorge ensued, and the day ended happily enough.  The aftermath was this:  To repair the oven by replacing the computer board-$400.  Disconnect the oven elements-$-0-.  No-brainer, we now have a range-top with a large central storage capacity.

I told you that story so I can tell you this one:  For reasons irrelevant to this post, we don't own a microwave.  We do, however, have a toaster oven.  A nice toaster oven with a convection function we never use.  Another relic from catering.

A couple of days ago I was giving this little gem a thorough cleaning.  The sort of OCD cleaning that guys who fix things occasionally do, with the lingering notion of a full restoration.  OK, I'm probably not going to get the '63 Caddy Coupe deVille I've always wanted to make better-than-showroom, but I will by-gawd get this '98 Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven pristine.  This is when I had my Pixar moment.  

I found myself imagining the toaster oven as Woody in Toy Story 2.  Paint worn, arm coming un-stitched,  stuffing falling out.  Then the oven chimed in.

"Oh, sure," it huffed.  "Little Miss Cuisinart gets the royal treatment.  Look at you, shining her chrome, polishing her glass.  I had one little problem and now I get the cold shoulder."

"But she's earned it!"  I exclaimed in my mind.  (I get enough crazy looks from my wife without trying to explain defending a toaster oven to a range.)  "She's never let me down.  She's done so much more than just toast.  I've even used her to cook ribs low and slow overnight.  And bread pudding!  Don't forget the bread pudding."

The stove just sat there and stared at me.  Then quietly it said, "I know what you're planning."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"You're gonna trade me in.  I know, I'm not a youngster anymore.  I'm not as stylish as I once was."  There was a wistfulness in her voice that was hard to miss.

 "No, I'm not," I said a little too quickly, trying to hide my guilt at having had that thought exactly.  "It's that your repair just isn't in the budget right now.  There's just Nancy and I, and we simply don't need a big oven all that much."

Stove eyed me closely, trying to decide if I was telling the truth.  I could see the doubt in her burners.

"Truly, we'll get you fixed before the next big holiday.  Besides, you know we cook outside a lot in the summer.  Think of it as a vacation."

"Ooooh, listen to her!"  The shrill voice of Cuisinart broke in.  "Those big, bright burners on top.  They're so showy, but she can't control herself when it really counts."

Oh, great, I thought, a feud between my range and my toaster oven.  This isn't going to end pretty.

Stove pulled in her bottom drawer a bit to draw herself up.  "You listen here, pip-squeak, you may be Ms. Reliable, but you can't cook a pizza.  You're too small, dainty, even." 

 "Okay, that's enough!  This discussion is closed," I announced.  I went back to cleaning Miss Cuisinart, and Stove sat fuming in silence.

When I had finished, I returned the toaster oven to its customary place of honor.  I plugged her in and set her clock, then stood back to admire my work.

"You know," I mumbled sotto voce to the little appliance, "Stove is right.  You can't handle a pizza."  Her clock flickered with a passing shiver of fear.

As I left the kitchen I thought I heard Stove say, "You just wait, both our days are numbered here."  Must have been my imagination.

Yesterday I was strolling the aisles of BB&B, looking at the housewares, thinking about sushi plates and wasabi bowls when I happened to wander through the small appliance sectionSitting there among her lesser rivals was Cuisinart's granddaughter.  She was sleek, modern, sexy.

"I can cook a pizza," she cooed as I walked by.  I stopped and turned to look at her.  I fondled her price tag.

"Ooooh, shiny!"  I said.

1 comment:

  1. Love this. I frequently do the same Pixar thing with inanimate objects around my house. Chair has not forgiven love seat yet and I don't know what to do about it. Chair also found out about the more comfortable chair in my office. I don't know who told but I'm pretty sure it was the black pumps.