Being eco-conscious consumers, we agreed immediately on a front loader. Plus they are soooo cool! After we got over the sticker shock (eased a teensy-tiny bit by rebates from the water and power companies), we continued our consumer research: cu ft, rpm’s, stainless steel baskets, the whole nine yards. But we really weren’t prepared for the showroom with candy-apple red and chrome stacking sets, all stainless-steel machines and German machines with steam cleaning. Not to mention the myriad of buttons and dials, the plethora of cycles with goddess-knows how many spin & temp modifications: it soon overwhelmed my tiny little brain. I stood in front of a row of round windows, transfixed to know that a machine can hand-wash.
And the stoves and refrigerators, whoa, Nellie! Some of the fridges were wired to the ‘net for reasons not exactly clear to me. I shied away from them, wondering if they would start downloading porn in the middle of the night from sheer boredom, and then shuddered to think what refrigerator porn might look like. Ooh, baby, you’re so… frigid!
Then you have the hybrid refrigerator-stoves-these hold the food refrigerated until such a time as you call it up and tell it to get cooking. Yep, voice control on a stove. That gave me serious pause. For one thing, I talk a whole hell of a lot in front of a stove, muttering imprecations and working recipe-math problems out loud. After years as a breakfast and line cook, making a meal always involves fast heat, plenty of fire and rounds of chef-style cursing — my family knows dinner is ready when the smoke alarm goes off.
But in the confusion of several dishes being timed to all come out together, I see the potential for some crossed signals and clipped expletives. “Burner three, go to medium, I mean high, no, no, wait, med high, hey, hey, burner two, off ! Off! OFFF! god f’ing damn it, now you’re burning the frickin’ green beans. Down you @%#& flames, down!” The smoke alarms goes off well before the broiled chicken is done because the cooktop is in flames, and the oven, in a snarl of confusion, has shut down. This is when the name-calling and shin-kicking comes in, and Mom (that would be me) would have to be restrained and escorted to her room to recover her good graces with a stiff drink and a fat novel.
But I fear this would not be the end of it. The stove, having sulked through the quickly ordered take-out and then left alone in the dark kitchen, would simmer in its own stew of righteousness and indignation. It might very well, in the manner of a spouse unjustly accused of overloading a washer (again! how could you…), heat up in retaliation. I could see the burners raging red in anger, smoke pouring out of the broiler, the whole appliance bulging with hot gases. By three in the morning, the curtains would be on fire, and the smoke alarm screaming--but no dinner in sight. No, voice-command stoves would not be for me.
By the way, the front load washer works just fine. A Maytag, of course, with a minimum of bells and whistles. And for a machine, it does a fabulous hand-wash. Go figure.