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A story about a toaster named Art

August 2, 2023

My family and I have been using the same toaster for over 25 years.  This toaster has been such an integral part of our daily lives that I felt compelled to write about it.  

To tell this story, we have to roll the calendar back almost 27 years.  My toaster’s name is Art.  Art, short for Cuisinart, is an American toaster who was born in China and given a French name.  He came into our lives as a gift to celebrate the marriage to my beautiful wife and has been giving warmth to bread and bagels ever since.  Although Art’s life expectancy should have been capped at approximately 10 years, he continues to defy the toaster gods by flickering to life on demand every day.

Art has survived five different geographic moves throughout his lifespan.  Two of those journeys were across the country.  I have lost count of all the breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even snacks in which Art had to diligently deliver his warming magic for my family.

When we first brought him home, the unboxing was magnificent! It reminded me of that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark when the bad guy opens the Ark and is basking in the glow of its awesomeness… right before faces started melting.  Or even the scenes from Pulp Fiction when Vincent or Jules would open the enigmatic briefcase.

There he stood… all 10.8(L) x 10.7(W) x 7.2(H) inches of him.  A shiny, white, heat box with four sexy 1.5 inch wide openings to deposit your baked goods.  Art was ahead of his time from a technology perspective… an overachiever if you will.  He had dual zone heating and three different modes of operation.  He could defrost frozen bread, if all you wanted was a quick sandwich right from the freezer. He could even reheat a slice of toast if that’s what you desired.  To this day I never knew a person who wanted to reheat toast, but dammit… Art could do it!

Behold the Toaster of the Covenant!

As you would expect, like most cheap kitchen appliances Art started to show signs of age after a few years. Occasionally you have to push the toast lever a couple of times before it would catch.  He also had scratches and discolorations from all the hours of tireless action he had put forth.  Char marks stained the openings of the bread slots and things like that.  Art was becoming a bit of an eye sore if you ask me, but my devout wife showed Art the same level of loyalty that she showed me and made up for his blemishes by hiding him in a cabinet until he was needed for service.

Things started to get ugly when Art would occasionally forget to pop the toast or bagel when it’s perfect warming time was up.  This resulted in bagels that looked like hockey pucks and toast that you could use in a sheet sander.  One time I swear he even burped a spark when I pushed a piece of toast down and rewarded me with a wisp of smoke after frantically ejecting the bread.  As far as I was concerned, Art paid his dues and was ready to be retired.  So, I ordered a replacement for Art.  

Art’s replacement in waiting

Since Art was a beloved servant to my family for almost 10 years at this point, I stuck with the same family stock that he came from.  This time I went with ebony color instead of eggshell to better match our current kitchen.  I was so excited that we were going to bring a newer generation of toasting genius into our lives, I could hardly wait until it came so that I could surprise my family.  However, my excitement was short-lived.  When the new toaster finally arrived and I brought it to the kitchen my wife had a horrified look on her face.  This was far from the welcoming smile that I had expected.  “NO, NO, NO!  We do NOT need that!”  Apparently over the years, my wife has developed an admiration for this counter appliance and is willing to cope with the burnt toast and potential fire hazard.  I literally could not believe what I was witnessing.  Who wouldn’t want a shiny, brand new piece of technology to play with?  That said, I was smart enough to choose my battle and I quickly succumbed to the idea that we could just place this bad boy on a shelf in our basement until it was called upon for a changing of the guard.

That was almost 17 years ago.  On this day, April 20, 2023 I heard excitement from the kitchen as my daughter and wife were doing their morning rituals.  It sounded like celebration from my daughter and despair from my wife, but I was oblivious as I was not fully awake and ready to start the day.  Trying to piece together what was going on from the context of the intermittent portions of the conversation, I started to get excited.  Could this be it?  Is this the day that I can finally unveil the now technologically obsolete replacement for Art?  This put a surprised pep in my step as I hurried to get showered and dressed so that I could go downstairs and perform the unboxing that should have happened a decade ago.

As I descended the stairs a little later, the house was quiet.  My wife and kids had gone off to start their day as mine was just getting started.  I could still smell the faint aroma of burnt toast.  A final gift from Art, which was no doubt coming from the bottom of the garbage can in our kitchen.  However, my excitement quickly fizzled when I turned the corner into the kitchen to see Art still sitting atop the island in our kitchen.  I probably should have been overjoyed by the sight before me.  After all, my wife has been on a 27 year campaign to save Art as if he was a baby seal or something… but honestly, I felt defeated and even a twinge of anger as Art gets the last laugh yet again. 

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