Before purchasing our new toaster, a replacement for the long-serving Cuisinart that was my contribution to our consolidated living space, my boyfriend, Charles, had researched ergonomic styling, sophisticated functions, optimal coil composition, and even the best crumb tray. Then, parsimonious fellow that he is, he bought the cheapest available toaster.
On its maiden voyage, we waited. And waited. Finally, the telltale pop.
I timed this new toaster at a whopping six minutes.
In researching toasting statistics, I found that average toast time was 3.6 minutes, which meant, conservatively, I would lose 1.83 days in excess wait time during the five-year average life of our toaster. Of course, Charles questioned the time management skills of someone who calculates toaster-based time loss.
My point ended up moot, as just over a year later, “slow toaster” died. No doubt his little toaster heart, always weak, simply gave out. While he didn’t near the average toaster life span, he held on until moments beyond his warranty. You had to respect his corporate loyalty.
While I was sad, having gotten used to spending six minutes each day with him, I concluded we should invest in a better toaster. Charles considered this, researched the options, and again bought the cheapest toaster he could find.
So a new toaster, soon to be nicknamed “uni-toaster,” joined our home.
I was delighted when my first slice popped up at a respectable four minutes. Then I noticed only one side was toasted. We tested our new toaster by slot and setting. While the bread sat in the middle of equally bright coils, no option fixed our single-side problem.
Charles’s proposed solution, which I rejected, was that we flip our toast midway, like an egg over easy. This made our toast time even longer than with slow toaster, whom I’d begun to sorely miss.
Charles exchanged faulty uni-toaster for a new one, assuming he was an anomaly. Two weeks later, he returned our similarly challenged uni-toaster 2. We were at a standoff. Charles refused to pay more for a premium-priced product he believed was produced on the same assembly line as our other toasters. I refused to let uni-toaster 3 in our home.
Would there ever be a timely two-sided piece of toast in our lives? I puzzled this question as I monitored my bread, now heated in the oven under the broiler flame.
Another year and countless poorly toasted slices later, Charles and I decided to marry. My life sang with the joys associated with this event. And with the hope that I again would experience my daily (well-toasted) bread.
As I worked on our wedding registry, I happened on a toasting force of nature, the SMEG. With a shiny red enamel exterior, sleek Italian styling, and a name like a Lord of the Rings character, it was love at first sight. Based on great reviews, it was also more than another pretty face. I added it to our list.
With any luck, I’d be toasting happily ever after.
Our beautiful SMEG arrived even before our wedding day. Admittedly, he’s not perfect. He, too, has days when he toasts unevenly. His Italian background, while sexy, makes him foreign, and Charles (never a world traveler) has yet to master the difference between SMEG’s bagel and defrost icons, which both look like croissants. And sometimes our SMEG displays the energy of a circus acrobat, sending toast flying so high it’s landed on the floor. We’ve since relocated him so that the toast rebounds off the refrigerator and lands on our counter.
The friend who bought this gift aptly pointed out that our toaster history is a lesson on relationships. Sometimes things aren’t done on your schedule. Other times they’re one-sided. And even the one you think you want will have its quirks. Reality is rarely perfect, but often does the trick. Just get your catcher’s mitt, some butter, and make it work.
Jill Lipton is a writer in New York. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.