My toaster oven died last December.
We had known the day was coming. The hinges of its door no longer functioned, and the tray never lined up the way it was supposed to. The bottom was coated in the melted cheese and burnt crumbs from one too many bagel pizzas. Its replacement was inevitable. And yet, I was woefully unprepared for its demise.
When Christmas Day arrived, my grandparents arrived bearing a large box with the names of my parents inscribed on the tag. My mother acted falsely surprised. “Oh, whatEVER could that be? I don’t remember asking you for ANYTHING!” Her sarcastic commentary only confirmed my dreaded suspicions. She was in on this terrible conspiracy. Grandma was trying to replace our toaster.
Later that same day, my dad pulled the plug on our old toaster, quite literally. As he removed it from the counter, the door hinge flopped open limply and lopsidedly, as if it didn’t understand what was going on. Then my dad turned to the cardboard box that held the new toaster, visibly thrilled at the idea of having a new piece of technology to recalibrate. He took the stainless steel components out of the recently received box with an alarming degree of reverence. Our old toaster was officially out of a job. For the remainder of the holiday week, it sat forlornly on the countertop opposite the place it used to be plugged into the ceramic tile wall, trapped in a terrible limbo between the life of service and the trashcan. For that week, I had to acknowledge the unemployed appliance, watching me from across the kitchen as I consorted with the new toaster. It felt traitorous. I remembered the time I had burnt my thumb on that old toaster, leaving a still-visible scar, and how I had forgiven it. I wondered if it would forgive me for leaving it by the side of the road for the garbage truck.
It was hard saying goodbye to the old toaster and adjusting to a new one. The old one was simple. All you had to do was turn the dial to the little icon that looked like a piece of lightly singed toast. Then it would give a quiet, polite *ding!* when it had prepared your toast for you, which sounded like the bell on the Fisher-Price schoolhouse and was all you really needed to be alerted that your breakfast was ready.
The new toaster was overbearing. It had an electronic panel with separate settings for toast, bagels, pizza, and waffles, which as far as I am concerned are all the same thing. And the worst part was, when the timer ran out, it would unleash three harsh piercing beeps, regardless of whether or not you had already removed your food. My already-deep-seated dislike for this verbally abusive toaster became more and more justified.
This new toaster was complicating my life. I longed for the simple system that once occupied that very space the usurper sat smugly. My mom told me I was being overdramatic, that it’s just a kitchen appliance. I wanted to say something witty back, but I kind of knew she was right, so I didn’t.
After four months, I have come to tolerate this impostor’s presence. Though it hasn’t been the same, I’ve learned to accept the attention-needy tendencies of our new toaster.
Then my mom told us we needed to get a new refrigerator.