Cardwell: The Multiple Lenses of History
Stillidealistic: Much Ado About Nothing
I know, I know. Daglog is not Twitter. And as Joe Biden would say, big F-ing deal. It's just that I'm over 60 years old (there, I said it) and to the best of my recollection I have never before bought a toaster.
I've owned a toaster -- like, forever. Of course. Everyone owns a toaster. But when my toaster broke this week, I asked myself, "When did I buy this thing?" And I drew a complete blank. Maybe it was a hand-me-down from my dear departed mother, or an ex-girlfriend. Or maybe it was left behind in an apartment I once rented. All I know is I've had it longer than I've had children, and they are in their late 30s. So when it stopped working, it surprised the hell out of me. It had always worked. Why would it stop now?
Actually, not true. It did stop once before, maybe two decades back. I opened it up then, and saw that the heating element had broken. I put a staple through it, reassembled it, and got 20 more years of reliable service.
But maybe I'm not quite as patient or cheap as I was then. Over the years, the toaster had lost the knob for selecting darkness levels (fortunately, my taste in toastiness didn't change) and its white enamel had become chipped and stained. It was looking pretty shabby. No problem, I just hid it behind other, more modern kitchen appliances.
But now the kitchen gods were clearly telling me to move on. I went online to see what a toaster cost -- and I was amazed. You can get one for $8 (two slots, darkness selector, one-year guarantee) or for $250 (also toasts bread). A flyer arrived at my door almost simultaneously: 50 per cent off on a toaster that normally costs $50. Presumably, six or seven times as good as that $8 version, though only one-fifth as good as the $250 one. But it came in brushed aluminum, and my kitchen really needed a bit of upgrading. I made the half-hour walk to the store in brilliant spring sunshine, and bought one.
I haven't taken it out of the box yet. I figure I'll wait until I really feel like a piece of toast; that will make the experience extra-special. I can't help thinking that, if this one is anything like as durable as the old, beat-up Proctor-Silex I'm about to toss into the trash, it will be the only toaster I will ever buy. My heirs and friends will be wandering around my apartment, asking, "Anybody need a toaster?" Nobody will, so it'll go to some thrift shop, to be bought for $5 (maybe marked down to $3) by some homeless guy. Or by some snobbish trendy attracted by its by-then-retro (I hope) look.
I dunno. Maybe I'm overthinking this. It's just a toaster.