Be here when?

The Cuisinart bread warmer/scorcher.

On Saturday I was making breakfast and mulling over Ken Layne’s latest Desert Oracle podcast when I smelled something burning.

The Wirecutter boyos say you can’t buy a proper toaster anymore, whether you spend a lot or a little, and I believe them. If I don’t keep an eye on and make adjustments to this cheapo Cuisinart what I wind up with is either lightly dried bread or a blackened slab that looks like a smoking shake shingle from a lightning-fried cabin.

A little thing, to be sure. Hardly the foundation for a thumbsucker The New Yorker might buy. And never mind writing about it — simply thinking about it may be a red flag, or so posits the Desert Oracle:

If you don’t have any sense of mission or destiny, or religious faith, or really any sort of sustainable lifetime philosophy, then the small stuff is all you can think about. Because no matter where you are in life, at one time or another you are going to have all the usual problems: health, money, sorrow, disgust, anger, gum disease, athlete’s foot, too much house or none at all. Your dog either up and died or it’s neurotic and full of hate and will outlive you by decades. Everybody’s out to get you or nobody pays any attention at all. The entirety of modern technological society has brushed away and marginalized the personal practice of philosophy. So we lose the plot while we’re in it. It’s like one of those Disney “Star Wars” movies.

I’ve had all of these problems, except being outlived by dogs. And that rough beast is bound to come slouching around one of these days, because Herself wants one, even more than she wants properly toasted bread in the mornings, slathered with Irish butter and French spread.

Maybe I should relocate to one of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville-branded “active-living communities,” a paradise for Parrotheads, which is a philosophy of sorts, maybe even a religion.

I had a brief Buffett period, and still enjoy his early works, like “He Went to Paris,” “Cuban Crime of Passion,” and “Death of an Unpopular Poet.” He may have foreshadowed his future as a geezer miner with the lyrics to “I Have Found Me a Home”:

And I have found me a home

Yes, I have found me a home

And you can have the rest of everything I own

’Cause I have found me a home.

I think we’re all bohos on this bus.

That song and the rest of my best-of-Buffett list are from his 1973 breakout album, “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean,” which features, among others, Steve Goodman on acoustic lead guitar, Vassar Clements on fiddle, and Thomas McGuane on liner notes (“We are beset by the quack minstrels of a non-existent America, bayed at by the children of retired orthodontists about ‘hard times’ and just generally depleted by all the clown biographies and ersatz subject matter of the drugs-and-country insurgence that is replacing an earlier song mafia,” and if that isn’t vintage Captain Berserko I’m a Daytona Beach Realtor.).

The folks who live in Buffett’s beach-bum burgs out there in Disney country certainly seem to have a philosophy that works for them. In his New Yorker piece Nick Paumgarten quotes Stuart Schultz, Latitude Margaritaville’s head of residential community relations (and a former summer-camp director), as saying that living in a Margaritaville property is “like being in college, but with money and without having to study. You have a great dorm room, you never have to go to class, and there’s always a party.”

Hm. I dunno. An earlier version of me never went to class but took in many a party, so I feel like I’ve done my time in that dorm room. And like the toast from my Cuisinart I have the scorch marks to show for it.

It’d probably be smarter to stay put. Get a philosophy. And maybe a dog.

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15 Responses to “Be here when?”

  1. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Toasters, from $10 to $200, dry out or burn bread and make crumbs that are hard enough to scratch glass. Ours hit the shit can two weeks ago when it burned a bagel! I bought an inexpensive toaster oven instead. It nicely warned up some home made pizza yesterday for lunch and perfectly toasted some sourdough this morning. Jury is still out on it, but no more toasters in this joint.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      That will probably be my next crack at properly browned bread. We could use a toaster oven around here for leftovers, which we always have aplenty, because I do my cooking with multiple meals in mind,

  2. Jeff Cozad Says:

    Maybe you need one of these…

  3. John A Levy Says:

    Patrick, I buy cheap toasters use them in low settings to prevent black bricks and muffins. The toaster may not last long but no regrets when kicking them to the curb. Jimmy Buffett is Tom McGuanes’ brother-in-law so no costs on cover liner notes. My Buffett collection ends about 82 when I found out that he and the Eagles were part-time residents of Aspen. They have since moved on but the stench remains aka Ken Lay.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, that’s my M.O., too. Low settings, flip the slices around once, maybe even switch slots in the quest for harmony. But in this instance I was contemplating the verities.

      Can you imagine running with Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison, and Jimmy Buffett in the Seventies, when McGuane was writing “Panama,” Harrison was writing “Wolf,” and Buffett was thinking about going into weed smuggling? It’s amazing that only one is dead and the others remain at large.

  4. SAO' Says:

    Ran into something similar in this morning’s meditation, from Sam Harris:

    You cannot wait until you solve your problems to be happy. There will always be something to do; the frame of mind in which you do it will determine the quality of your life. In each and every moment, we have the opportunity to connect to the contents of consciousness.

    Good advice, even if the dude uses way too many semi-colons.

  5. peterwpolack Says:

    “…slathered with Irish butter and French spread.”

    The toast or the dog?

  6. Dave Watts Says:

    Breville countertop oven. And skip the small ones. That has been our go-to for almost 10 years, and only now is showing its age.

    When I first brought it home, I was summarily accused of spending a small fortune on a wholly unneccesary appliance. One week later we were using the thing 5 times a day. Toast and bagels come out perfect. Oh, and we hardly ever use the big oven anymore. One of the top ten purchases I ever made.

  7. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Well, these folks played at our rec center yesterday afternoon. Sandy and her committee booked them. They played here before the plague. Nancy says she was influenced early on by the Pogues. This is as good as a philosophy as any for you to get into. Just be wary if Herself takes you to a pub near the river. I wish you guys could have been there with us.

  8. Herb from Michigan Says:

    We’ve gone through 2 toasters and 2 toaster ovens since our Sunbeam khacked in the 90’s. We thought “finally now we can toast bagels and join the space age”. Little did we know what had become of home appliances. They are now like politicians. They romance you with alluring come-ons and you end up throwing them out in short order. At least I try to buy shiny shit made of metal which actually does get recycled around here. Although I get no pleasure thinking that the fridge I recycled will come back as a newborn coffee maker that will fritz out after a few years.
    BTW every Cuisinfart appliance we’ve ever bought has disappointed if not outright failed out of the box.

  9. Jeff Cozad Says:

    Or perhaps you could hire the toasting out

    • Shawn Says:

      But, but that’s only one slice! He could have toasted two slices for all that power. Gee, I mean come on.

      Did I mention that I have a toaster that sucks from the meter at 1200 joules per second? I don’t bother riding my exert-cycle to produce the necessary power, I just go out and harness up my neighbors horse and walk him on the horse-en-ator treadmill.

      And of course since flowing electrons are the subject, one should mention another of Jimmy’s classics:

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