If memory serves, almost every sit-com I watched growing up had at least one episode where Dad messes up by giving Mom an appliance--an iron, say, or a new vacuum--on some important gifting occasion. As it turned out, what Mom really wanted was something soft and feminine, like a cashmere sweater or ... well, a cashmere sweater.
I took the message to heart: Women don't want appliances for their birthdays, anniversaries or major religious holidays that involve gift-giving. So I've always felt a little funny about the fact that what I want are appliances. For a long time, me and the Man were pretty broke (I was 38 and pregnant with my second child when we bought our first house), and I vacuumed the floors with my mom's old canister vacuum and ironed clothes with the iron I'd had in college, which was always weeping rusty water onto the Man's white shirts. The thought of a shiny, new appliance was like catnip to me.
We're not so broke anymore, but for some reason it's still hard for us to buy new appliances. I would like a really fabulous German-engineered iron, for instance, but the one I have (not that college number, thank goodness) is perfectly good. My vacuum works, but there's something wrong with the on-off switch, so that we have to plug it into a power strip and turn the power strip on and off. Still, it works.
I seem to have all sorts of appliances that irritate me but work too well to replace. For instance, I've got an oven that's too small. Whenever I roast a chicken, I have to do fancy things with foil in order to a) get the skin brown and crispy without b) letting the roasting fat pop onto the upper heating elements, which will result in c) lots of smoke, causing d) the smoke alarm going off, so that e) the alarm company will call yet again to ask whether or not our house is on fire.
Smaller still? The freezer compartment of my fridge. It's a side by side refrigerator/freezer, and I suppose there's some reason for this sort of design, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it is. Not that we buy a lot of frozen pizza, but if we did, we'd be out of luck, since the freezer compartment is neither wide enough nor its shelves tall enough to accommodate a pizza box. Bulky packages of any size (say, a sixteen-ounce bag of frozen peas) are ruinous to any sort of established order.
As we approach various gifting opportunities throughout the calendar year, I've hinted around that a deep freeze might be an appropriate gifting choice. The Man always nods at the wisdom of this, but I suspect he watched the same sit-coms as I did growing up and can't quite bring himself to buy me an appliance, even a major appliance, as a gift.
Whoops. Let's put that in the past tense. Guess what I got on Mother's Day? Guess who walked out through the mud room to go get the Sunday papers, saw something out of place on her way to open the door, turned around and found--much to her astonishment--a deep freeze!
If your answer is me, you are correct.
Was I disappointed not to find a cashmere sweater there instead? Not on your life, buddy. I felt filled with love and affection for the Man and the little men. I was also pretty shocked, since we don't do big gifts on the smaller occasions--usually for Mother's Day I get a Merchant and Ivory DVD and flowers and a day off from cooking.
So I spent Mother's Day morning emptying out the contents of my crowded freezer and transferring all the bulky stuff, the nonessential frozen stuff, to my new, beautiful deep freeze. Now I'm just waiting for my peas and beans to come to fruition in the garden. Gonna blanch them suckers and freeze 'em. I'm freezing everything, girls. Watch out.
And for my birthday, I'm asking for a new vacuum. Ah, the romance of it all ...
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