On the Importance of Toasters

An excerpt from

 

Paula and Iris are drinking ‘coffee’ in the office kitchen.

“We’re giving them a toaster”, Paula says.

Iris spins away, spilling her vanilla mint cappuccino.

“What?” Paula asks.

Iris turns back, tears in her eyes, unable to speak.

“What is it?” Paula asks.

Iris breathes deeply, shakes her head, then breathes deeply again.

“I'm sorry. It's just that. I’ve often thought that. If Stan and I had had the right toaster, our marriage might have been saved.”

Paula moves closer.

“What makes you think that?”

Iris wipes her eyes.

“Stan used to get up in the middle of the night and make toast. The toaster we had would leave crumbs on the counter and he would never clean them up. So every morning for seven years, I would get up and clean up the crumbs on the counter. And every morning I would complain about the crumbs, and we’d start to fight and finally he left.”

Paula sighs.

“Did he take the toaster?”

Iris shakes her head.

“I gave it away. Too many memories.”

Paula sits back. She entwines her middle finger around a cheese doodle. Tiny doodle grains fall to her palm, forming images on her hand, pictographs in an incomprehensible junk food idiom. Possibly a ring. Or a circus. Or an octopus. She gazes at the inscrutable figures, wondering at their meaning. Doodle grains. Toast crumbs. There is a significance, a serendipitous collusion of metaphor, that she can’t quite grasp. She knows a marriage depends on it. But whose?

“We gave you that toaster, didn’t we?” she says finally.

Iris rallies, and comforts Paula.

“I don’t blame you,” Iris says. “If it hadn’t been the toaster, it would have been some other appliance.”

Paula and Iris hug. The other employees in the kitchen leave silently and quickly.

“I'm so sorry,” Paula says. “We didn't know.”

Iris sighs.

“Neither did we,” she says. “Neither did we.”

 

Comments 6

 
Rosy Cole on Wednesday, 09 August 2017 23:35

Who knew toasters were such hazardous items? You'd think they'd come with a warning label. One can't help feeling some sympathy for the insomniac Stan, though I bet he left the lid off the butterdish and never put his plate in the dishwasher. Some people!

Who knew toasters were such hazardous items? You'd think they'd come with a warning label. One can't help feeling some sympathy for the insomniac Stan, though I bet he left the lid off the butterdish and never put his plate in the dishwasher. Some people!
Stephen Evans on Thursday, 10 August 2017 00:09

So problematic and yet so necessary to civilized life.

Probably right about Stan.

So problematic and yet so necessary to civilized life. Probably right about Stan.
Rosy Cole on Thursday, 10 August 2017 23:22

Yes, but what about all the hopeful couples going to the altar in total ignorance of the way fate can clobber you in that tragic fashion? It just doesn't bear thinking about.

Yes, but what about all the hopeful couples going to the altar in total ignorance of the way fate can clobber you in that tragic fashion? It just doesn't bear thinking about.
Stephen Evans on Friday, 11 August 2017 02:14

As Nietzsche said: "when the will is most imperiled, art approaches, as a redeeming and healing enchantress; she alone may transform these horrible reflections on the terror and absurdity of existence into representations with which man may live."

As Nietzsche said: "when the will is most imperiled, art approaches, as a redeeming and healing enchantress; she alone may transform these horrible reflections on the terror and absurdity of existence into representations with which man may live."
Rosy Cole on Friday, 11 August 2017 09:54

Somehow, when Nietzsche pontificates and hits the nail on the head, it always seem to have a reverse side. He needed to lie down in a darkened room for a bit.

Somehow, when Nietzsche pontificates and hits the nail on the head, it always seem to have a reverse side. He needed to lie down in a darkened room for a bit.
Stephen Evans on Friday, 11 August 2017 18:20

Might have helped his headaches.

Might have helped his headaches.
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