RANDOM NOISE


Monday, November 04, 2002  

:17

We donít have too traditional a home life. Kelly is not a housewife. She works as a school teacher and loves her work so she wonít quit. We have schedules that sometimes mesh, but most times donít. We donít go to bed at the same time most nights, and during the week we donít share too many meals. As a result we cook different meals at separate times. And this isnít something new. Itís been this way since we got together a few hundred years ago.

Kelly uses the microwave quite a bit. I do so occasionally, but Kelly is the primary user. In fact, she is the one who brought the microwave into the relationship. Before we moved in with each other I never owned one. Every apartment I leased had one, of course, but I rarely used it. I am not against the thing, mind you. I do not have a fear that by using the microwave I am somehow subjecting my testicles to malicious radiation that will cause severe birth defects in my future and still unplanned offspring. I also do not believe that regularly using the microwave to cook peas in butter sauce will cause me to develop a nasty brain-eating tumor. I just donít have cause to use it. I donít eat boxed lasagna or Hungry Man dinners.

I donít really know how Kelly uses the microwave. All I can tell you is that she uses it. I know she uses it because I have proof whenever I am in the kitchen. In our kitchen the microwave is in plain view so every time you go anywhere near the fridge, you can see the display of the microwave. Interestingly enough almost every time I go into the kitchen there is a different time on the display. Each time there is a different number indicating an aborted cook time. Sometimes it is 20 seconds. Sometimes it is 24 seconds. But it is never more than 30 seconds and is usually in the range of 12 to 17Öas a rule.

So it occurs to me that this is a human trait. The new of the microwave oven has long since worn off. What was once considered a time-saver, a miracle of modern-day convenience, is now the standard. In fact, it is sub-standard. It doesnít do the job fast enough. Thanks, Mr. Microwave, you awed us with your revolutionary cooking speed, you dazzled us with your turning platters and digital countdowns, and we marveled at your mysterious operation that was reminiscent of the H-bomb and nuclear winter. But the thrill is gone, Bub. Youíre too slow and we canít wait for you to catch up with our ultramodern lives.

So at work I did a study. In the big breakroom- where the people come to cook up their glad-encased leftovers, their boxed lasagna, and their Hungry Man entrees- I watched them, I studied them. I looked at them read the directions. I watched them fire up the ovens. I watched them step anxiously in place looking through the glass window as if their intent glower would actually assist the invisible microwaves collide harder and cook faster. And as the dials and digits neared the end of their runsÖTHEY STOPPED IT! They opened the door, pulled out their food, and among them left minutes, perhaps hours, of unused cooking minutes. They had no time to wait.

I asked Kelly if she knew how long it takes to make grits. Or corn, how about corn? Leftover dinner rolls, anyone? Her response in each case varied, as you would expect. So I asked her why then the microwave always was stopped short by 10, 15, 20 seconds. She said there was little difference between something cooked for 1 minute and 45 secondsÖthe excess 15 seconds did little to really cook the food. I countered that if this was the case then why not cook it for 45 seconds? She said that then it would be undercooked. I asked why. She said that she would pull it out after 30 seconds when the directions clearly stated a minute, leaving it underdone. I asked her is she released how little sense that line of thinking made and she said weíd talk about it when she had more time and she left the kitchen.

posted by Mike | 11:21 AM
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