THE MEAN MACHINES
It is a fact of life that all the mechanical lemons of the world end up in my home. I have reason to believe that there is a collective intelligence among electrical appliances that prey on unobtrusive women like myself.
I became suspicious of deliberate sabotage after moving into my first home, with all its modern conveniences. The vacuum cleaner, for instance, only ran in reverse. I never complained, until the day I vacuumed myself out the front door, which had an automatic lock. Three hours later, my husband came home from work and let me in. He tried to convince me the belt was on backwards, but I was reluctant to believe him.
The kitchen appliances were hardest on me, perhaps because I relied on them the most. The blender had twenty-five speeds, and all of them did the same thing - mixed everything together and spewed it across the kitchen. The coffee maker was particularly cruel. I set the timer for 7 A.M. and never got my coffee until 7 P.M. I was impressed with the pot-scrubbing dishwasher, until I realized that it washed only what it felt I needed, grinding the rest into an unrecognizable mess. My sixteen piece china setting was reduced to four in that many weeks. Fortunately, I gave small dinner parties. I gave up completely on the electric can opener. If I wasn't a fresh food fadist, I might have starved to death.
The microwave oven sat smugly on the counter, daring me to try it. The first and only time I used it to defrost a bagel, it flashed HI at me. I never knew what that meant, but it seemed anobvious ploy to intimidate me, reminding me of my neighbor's talking refrigerator. Every time she broke her diet, it told herhusband. They're divorced now.
My well-meaning husband bought me a miniature vacuum, knowing my problems with the upright. It ignored the crumbs on the rug, but greedily sucked up the freshwater pearls that hung from my neck, before it coughed and died. I considered getting an outside job in self-defense. I don't want to tell you what my electric toothbrush did. It was too horrible for words.
I also owned one of the notorious sock-eating washing machines. Mine returned the socks, but only after I threw the survivors away. The machine was a rogue, bent on vibrating itself out of the laundry room, and dragging the hot water tank with it. I had no idea where it planned on going.
When my mother-in-law gave me a whirlpool for my bathtub, I screamed in terror, ran into to my bedroom and hid. The woman never forgave me for marrying her son. I wasn't safe, even there. The air-conditioner tried to freeze me to death in my sleep.
Only my faithful sheepdog shared my aversion to appliances. My husband brought home a set of electric dog grooming scissors, which didn't please either the dog or myself. When I turned them on, they jumped out of my hands and attacked the poor animal, who howled, took off down the street and spent the next two days with neighbors.
Even the iron turned on me, spitting every time I tried to fill it with water, giving me a healthy jolt when I shook it to make it stop. It scorched two out of every three shirts, getting especially steamed up over silk.
I thought that eventually my friends and family would accept the fact that appliances despised me. But no, they just kept buying me more. I threw the electric eyebrow tweezers away as soon as I unwrapped it. The possibilities of the pain it could have inflicted were limitless. I didn't particularly appreciate the weed trimmer I received for Easter, either. It tore across my once lush, green lawn with a mind of its own. After ripping up six feet of sod, it headed for the flower bed, where it neatly decapitated my tulips, roses, and the little ceramic elf that was supposed to bring good luck. In a final splurge of fury, it wrapped around my Dogwood stripling, and strangled itself to death. I sighed and walked back into the house, ignoring the startled looks of my overly inquisitive neighbors.
Don't try and tell me that my appliances weren't vicious. The electric garage door slammed down on me when I was half way into the garage. I swear I never touched the remote control button. Even my car had it in for me. It was a new model with a lot of buttons; entirely too many buttons. All I needed or wanted was OFF and ON. The first time I drove it, windshield wipers danced wildly on a sunny day. The temperature inside the car had to be over a hundred degrees, and messages flashed all around me; fasten seatbelt, close door, get gas, water, oil, etc. I never was able to figure out how to get into the trunk of that car. It suffered a major nervous breakdown on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and had to be towed away; supposedly because I poured water into the hole where the oil went.
It was rumored from time to time that I was abusive to my appliances. There was absolutely no truth to that. If the vacuum hadn't rebelliously pulled away from me, it wouldn't have fallen down the stairs. And if the food processor hadn't choked on a carrot, I wouldn't have stuck the wooden spatula between the blades and...well, you get the picture. I certainly had nothing to do with the washer's escape attempts. The manual stated quite clearly that the machine could handle two king size pillows, which should equal six regular size pillows. The only time I may have been a touch abusive was when I kicked the refrigerator to make it stop humming. And it worked, although the automatic ice-maker spurted fifty pounds of ice cubes at me in retalliation. No, it wasn't me that was abusive. Appliances hated me.
Initially, I harbored no animosity towards modern conveniences. After generations of roughing it, the human race deserved a little help. I just resented mechanisms that tried to outsmart me.
The computer was good at that. It chewed up discs like fourteen year old boys at a pizza party. To humble me, it flashed SYNTAX ERROR, STOP, and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING, refusing me access to any of my programs. Eventually, I discovered the secret of control--and unplugged it.
The most recent present I received was an digital calculator. It not only added, subtracted and did calculus, it also called the IRS. I knew then, my days were numbered.