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.”