Wednesday, June 5, 43 A.B.

Prick Brain To Allow Venting Before Reading...

My microwave oven died today.

Without warning.  Without a death rattle.  Without any team of expert technicians frantically employing extraordinary measures in a fruitless effort to coax it back from the brink.

I just tried to turn it on as I have a thousand times before and...

It was gone.  No fuss.  No muss.  My long-time kitchen companion apparently choosing to go out as it had lived - FAST.

Oh, sure - the interior light still came on, but the hum and heat I'd come to take for granted were as gone as Ally McBeal's renewal chances.

I still can't quite believe it....

Of course I've always known in the abstract that this day would come, but... it was always hard to wrap my mind around that fact.  I mean, it's not as if I open my newspaper first thing every morning and see obituaries for beloved appliances, is it?  It's not as if I've ever passed a microwave cemetery which might remind me (however subliminally) that no countertop buddy is forever.  We Americans seem to have insulated ourselves fairly well from the inevitable passing of our technological marvels.

Today I can't help but wonder if those cultures which plaster their walls with paintings of rusty and decaying machines and other such memento mori might not be mentally healthier than we're capable of admitting.

Our microwave wasn't anything special, as microwaves go - I'm not claiming it was.  It didn't rotate our food, it didn't allow us to adjust its 475 watt power level, it long ago ceased to be considered stylish, and yet... it WAS a microwave.  OUR microwave.  And as our microwave, it performed admirably and uncomplainingly for us for more than ten years.

Can that be?  Ten years?

Yes.  We got it on Jan. 20, 1991 - 11 years, four months, and sixteen days ago.  Hard to believe...  It seems like there's scarcely been time to defrost a chicken breast since we first brought it home from Rex Appliances, and yet... the calendar I keep track of these things on doesn't lie....

It was the first microwave I'd ever had.  Once other people had had them in their homes for nearly 20 years without dying, sprouting a fifth limb, or accidentally frying their gonads I'd thought, well, ok - maybe it really is safe for us to get one, too.  Little did I know how much I'd come to depend on it for even the simplest of reheating tasks life presents us with everyday....

Technically, it wasn't our first microwave.  My in-laws had given us another less than a month before for Christmas.  But that had been a HUGE thing that fit our miniature apartment and micro-miniaturized lifestyle about as well as that Great Dane on speed we won in a raffle.  After penning that first microwave up in the kitchen and going out to eat every day for a few weeks rather than face its vibrating wrath, my wife and I decided to trade it in on something a tad smaller than the two of us put together.

Thus did my dearly departed friend first come into my life.  And for a mere $79, too!

GE model JE3.

Complete with a manual which warned us never to use it with an extension cord (we didn't) and never to attempt to defeat the purpose of its three-prong plug (we never, ever even thought of doing so).

In exchange for following these two simply rules, we were granted over a decade's worth of faithful, uncomplaining service.

My microwave was always there for me - summer, spring, winter, fall; day and night; for both Kwanza and maypole festivities.  It never told me not to eat whatever I asked it to warm up for me, no matter how fatty and nutritionless it may have been.  It never refused to open its door for me just because I'd forgotten its birthday.  It never gave me bad advice, spouted sports statistics, or argued with me about what constitutes proper and improper breakfast attire.  And when we brought a sparkly new stove into the kitchen last summer and unthinkingly plopped the thing down right next to it, our mircowave kept whatever jealousy it may have felt entirely to itself.

As empty as my counter now seems without it, my life seems even emptier....


My wife thinks we ought to just put it out for the trashmen to take and go buy another, but...  I'm afraid I need a bit more time.  However much her precipitous actions might be in the spirit of my speedy dead friend, I think there are still some things in this world where slower is better than fast.

And I'd be saying this even if I wasn't the one who's expected to wipe off the counter and carry my friend out to the curb....

The curb?!

Maybe I can bury it in the back yard and make a little microwave-safe styrofoam shrine instead.

Maybe I can still use it as a nightlight?


The heart breaks...

The mind reels...

The stomach still demands to be fed.

Maybe a replacement isn't such a bad idea after all.

Is it possible that the proper period of mourning in these situations is the length of time it takes one to go through all the bags of potato chips one has in the house?

I must go and discuss the matter with my innards.

NOTE: There will be no visitation.  In lieu of flowers, friends of the deceased and/or its owner may make cash donations to The Poor Dead GE Appliance Memorial Fund.  Please email the bereaved author of this page for details, wait 3-5 minutes for a reply, then rotate your request and try again.

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