Friday, June 24, 2005


I was wandering through a kitchen appliance store in a mall the other day, when a very enthusiastic young salesperson asked me if I would be interested in having a look at their new Cappuccinotoasterbroiler-as-seen-on-TV. “It mounts right up under your kitchen cabinets,” he said with the same excitement he might have displayed had he been announcing a cure for a major disease. “That way your kitchen countertop won’t be cluttered!” What was more, this fabulous device came in a dozen designer colours, with more attachments than the Columbia space shuttle. It was self-cleaning, odour-free, ran quietly, had a remote control, and I could pay for it in several years’ worth of easy monthly payments.
“What does it do?” I asked the earnest young man.
“Yes. If I am going install one of these Cappuccinotoasterbroiler-as-seen-on-TV in my kitchen, I’d like to know what it actually will do for me.”
Well, the explanation that followed is far too long and complicated to repeat here, but clearly the impression I was intended to get was that this extraordinary device would make me a huge success in the kitchen, more popular with my friends and family, healthier, and possibly even younger – I think there was a separate attachment for that.
I did not buy the Cappuccinotoasterbroiler as-seen-on-TV. I don’t need an appliance that will turn me in to a younger, more popular, kitchen whiz. What I do need are some appliances that have practicable applications. A self-cleaning refrigerator, for instance, would be nice. The kids have a tendency to store science projects in the fridge and then forgetting about them, just as I seem to have a talent for not remembering bags of spinach I had every intention of making the kids eat, and which turn to slurry in the back of the “crisper.” Whoever comes up with a fridge that will sort out and dispose of my collection of liquid cucumbers, moldy yogurts and brittle ham slices will have my undying gratitude – and my money.
A few years ago, I could also have used some sort of diaper changing device – with a long-range remote control. Although I did manage to become something of an expert in the art of the rapid-fire diaper change, while at the same time learning how to hold my breath for several minutes, these are skills I could have done without; there are many ways for a parent to bond with his child, but I don’t believe this particular avenue is essential. Some sort of changing, disposing, cleaning and powdering appliance which would deliver my smiling, sweet-smelling child into my waiting arms would have been worth any number of Cappuccinotoasterbroiler-as-seen-on-TV.
I would also like to see the following appliances created: a machine that will bring a mug of hot coffee to my bedroom every morning, while at the same time waking me as gently as a summer breeze through an open window; a vacuum cleaner that will get the hair of my cat, Paws for Thought, out of my wool rug and then empty itself; something – anything, that will sort out the content of my garage and find my box of router bits which I haven’t seen since Kim Campbell was Prime Minister, but which I am certain is still in there somewhere; and finally some sort of extremely sturdy mobile unit I can send into my teenage son’s room to A: find him and bring him out before noon on Saturdays, and B: clean the place up, by which I mean returning the household plates and glasses to the kitchen, putting the lizard back in its cage, taking the melted wax out of the carpet and locating the three English assignments which have, apparently, been completed but have gone missing.
And oh yes, a dog washer would also be very much appreciated; some kind of machine that would be set up in the back yard, and which would lure Dimbulb into it, wash, dry and de-flea him all in one fell swoop, all without the bathroom having to be re-decorated, which is what tends to happen now.
Free Cappuccinotoasterbroiler as-seen-on-TV will be awarded to those who create any of these appliances.
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