Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beam Me Up

Scribble, scribble, erase, scribble, break pencil point, tear big hole in paper, scribble around it . . .

Beam Me Up

My mind oftentimes drifts into uncharted territory, like the USS Enterprise without a rudder.

“Kirk to Charlie: Where the hell are we?”

“Charlie to Kirk: Damned if I know, Captain. The rudder is on the fritz and we’re drifting into uncharted territory.”

Uncharted territory. We sent men to the moon in 1969— why on earth we did that is way beyond me—but we can’t build a toaster that toasts toast or a coffee maker that makes coffee. Maybe Martha and I are unusually hard on household appliances because, over the years, we’ve had a dozen of each. Or perhaps our expectations are too high: when we buy expensive brands, we expect them to work for more than a week.

Take our coffee machine. It has a mind of its own (apparently ours isn’t good enough), because it tells us when it’s going to brew the coffee. Martha has the timer set for 4:50 a.m. so the coffee is hot and flavorful when she gets up at 5 o’clock.

“Fucking coffee’s colder than a witch’s TIT!” she screeched in outrage the other morning, which is a truly horrible sound at the crack of light—something akin to ten cats with their tails caught under the rockers of the rocking chair. Martha is not exactly perky in the morning, and neither is the coffee. It starts dripping at 2:23, 4:07, 3:49—whenever it damn well feels like it.

And don’t bother to ask what happened when I suggested to my beloved that she might have set the timer, uh, incorrectly. Martha likes to think she’s June Cleaver in the kitchen, but I don’t remember the Beaver’s mom ever calling her percolator “a piece of shit”.

But in addition to our piece of shit, we are also the proud owners of “a piece of crap”: the toaster. You ought to come over and see it sometime. It has buttons all over the place for toasting bagels, Texas Toast, English muffins, Belgian waffles, frozen waffles, unfrozen waffles, and banana sandwiches. The only problem is, it doesn’t do bread.

“Maybe you have to use that fancy forty-seven-grain bread for it to work,” I suggested.

“It isn’t the kind of bread you use, you idiot, the thing is a piece of crap!”

As the man of the house, I decided it was my duty to check out the toaster. Women, after all, aren’t always the greatest when it comes to repairing intricate electrical appliances. I set the browning dial at “2” (on a scale of “1” to “26”), put a slice of Wonder bread in the slot, and pushed the plunger. “How hard can it be to make toast?” I thought, watching the heating elements turn from a benign brown to a hellish red.

While I was waiting for my toast to toast, I had a nice cup of cold greasy coffee. At a setting of “2”, I expected a warmed- over piece of bread. What I got was something that looked like it barely escaped the Great Chinese Whorehouse Fire of 1847. Either the toaster (1) did not in fact work or (2) it was indeed a piece of crap.

Every man of the house has a backup plan to protect the illusion that he is the man of the house, secretly referred to as “Plan B”: I needed professional help.

“Charlie to Scotty: Yo, Scotty. I have a coffee maker and a toaster on the fritz. Can you fix ’em?”

“Scotty to Charlie: Negative, laddie. I have to fix this rudder because . . .”

“We’re drifting into uncharted territory, I know. Charlie out.”


Jimmy Bastard said...

Having a bad day Charlie?

Stinkypaw said...

I feel for you, and your shitty appliances. Really.

Pat said...

So we're not the only ones;)
Poor Martha! I'd be less than perky getting up for 5am.

savannah said...

i have had the same coffee maker for 14 years! it keeps time, makes excellent coffee AND also, espresso & cappuccino, sugar! perhaps y'all need to check out, krups. oh yeah, the toaster is a cuisinart and it works perfectly, too! (and is probably just as old, too.) xoxox

Charlie said...

JIMMY: No, nothing that a hot cup of coffee and a toasted bagel wouldn't fix. But thanks for asking.

STINKY: Really? You really do?

PAT: I just knew there would be a kindred soul, and so far you're it.

SAVANNAH: I'm so happy for you that we're coming over to your house for breakfast every morning. But remember, Martha has to get up at 5 so we'll be there earlyish.

Fay's Too said...

Oh, my dear Charlie,
First of all, why the heck would anyone get up at 5 a.m. It's just wrong.
Secondly, small kitchen appliances are the spawn of satan and the more you pay for them. . . well, the more you pay for them. The more dials and gadgets on them, the more there is to not work.
How did the early American settlers do it? I'll tell you how, they had simple appliances and they didn't get up at 5 am. That's just an old wives' tale andyou know how unreliable old wives are! They're likely to throw toasters at passers by. . . . .
Hope your day is better tomorrow.

Stinkypaw said...

I really, really do!

Wandering Coyote said...

A toaster that doesn't toast, eh? That is hilarious - but very annoying. You shouldn't be eating Wonder Bread anyway - terrible shit.

Kim Ayres said...

Just make sure it's still plugged in when you take the toaster apart and start prodding it with your screwdriver, that way you'll be able to test whether it's working as you go :)

Tiffin said...

I think toasters are more susceptible to diabolic possession than other appliances because they are little mini fire pits of hell. We had one which used to sproing the toast clear across the room - or directly into your forehead if you were stupid enough to be checking. When Satan comes to collect his spawn, they usually go out in an inglorious blaze.

Coffee machines are part of the People's Republic of China's goal to take over world industry. Some highly trained worker sets the controls just an undetectable hair off so that the timer will never come on at the right time and North American society will grind to a halt, crippled without its proper fix.

Drip makers also can't heat the water high enough to produce a truly decent cup of coffee, a problem Himself resolved by getting a bells and whistles espresso machine 2nd hand on EBay. Now I wake up to wild hissing noises and the sound of my barista boy tamping the grounds. An absolutely perfect lattée starts my day. Some things are worth every penny.

koonsmother said...

Why would you want hot coffee in Arizona anyway? Buy a case of Red Bull and ice it down. .

Charlie said...

FAY: You speak many truths. The only person who seems to have good luck with small appliances is Savannah. As far as old wives, I'm not touching that one . . .

STINKY: Merci for really feeling for me. Really.

WC: Yeah, I can just see you chuckling if YOURS didn't work. And I don't eat Wonder bread--that was just part of the story.

KIM: Thanks for the advice, but I already do that. I mean, how else can you tell if the thing is working or not?

Wandering Coyote said...

Thank God you don't actually eat Wonder Bread.

Charlie said...

TUI: I wouldn't mind having a sproinging toaster--at least there'd be a little excitement around here, laying down bets where the untoast lands.

I think you've hit upon the truth about small appliances and a million other things: cheap Chinese shit made by no-human-rights Chinese people. I used to speak Chinese back when I was a drunk--I spoke every language when soused--and I don't recall "quality control" in the Chinese lexicon.

And forget about the espresso machine: we've had one sitting in the closet for several eons because Martha says it's too much work.

Don't you love these short comments?

LINDA: Red Bull! I like ONE cup of coffee in the morning, not SIXTEEN. I'd be floating around the ceiling on a caffeine high. You'd get a kick out of that, wouldn't you.

WC: I notice that many of the breads in the grocery contain high fructose corn syrup--that shit is showing up in more and more stuff.

Mary Witzl said...

Wow: we've got the same problem here too with appliances, but we've got an excuse: TEENAGERS. Plus, my husband goes for cheap-o stuff every time.

Glad it's not just us. I'm sick and tired of burnt toast.

Meg said...

Our coffee maker has a timer on it, too. We don't use the timer for exactly that reason.

Tiffin said...

Well, my comment was too long too so it needed a long rebuttal. Either that or we're both just verbose.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I buy my appliances based on weight and price. They have to be both heavy and cheap (or else the cheapest heavy one). The toaster and the fridge and the microwave have lasted ten years so far.

At least they're available in industrial format. I've had five DVD recorders in three years.

Charlie said...

MARY: Isn't it nice that we can whine together? We ought to try it in harmony.

MEG: You are wise beyond your years.

TUI: I believe that we are both verbose. But I'm not getting into a verbosity contest with you.

KEVIN: Heavy, dude.