By Lisa Hornung
Andrew Davis, walked into his kitchen in the morning. He had a headache and needed coffee, like now. “Morning, Mr. Coffee,” he said. Like he said every morning. He wasn’t sure why, but he often felt like thanking his coffee maker for making the warm elixir that gave him the will to live.
He poured his cup and took a sip while he looked around the kitchen. “Jesus, I need to clean this place up. … Meh.” And he walked into the living room to turn on the news and zone out for a while.
“Mr. Coffee, my ass! I just … why? WHY does he do this every morning? I’m not a MISTER,” the coffee machine said. “I’m not even a Mr. Coffee machine! I’m a Krups, made in Germany with fine quality German engineering! I mean, one of these days …”
“Here we go again,” said Stovadore, the flat-top stove. “Every morning you do this same stupid rant. One of these days, what? You’re going to not make his coffee? Make it too weak? Spike it with cyanide?”
“You shut up, Stovadore! I’m sick of being ignored. Everybody knows women are treated unfairly around the world, and especially in the kitchen,” Ms. Krups said.
Stovadore rolled his eyes.
Ms. Krups lowered her voice and sighed. “You know I’m not going to do anything like that. My German engineering and work ethic would never let me slack off.”
A long moan came from beneath Ms. Krups. “Sheesh, you two. I’m trying to get some rest! There was another marathon session last night.”
The voice came from Fred the dishwasher. Fred was the same age as Stovadore and Chilly, the refrigerator, but he was old. He had endured much more wear and tear over the years, and just wanted to retire. Andy was a bachelor, living in his own house. He had a good career and made a nice living, but he had no idea how to keep the house clean. He often let the dishes pile up in the sink until they spilled over onto the countertop until he ran out of clean dishes. Then he’d throw the dishes into Fred without a rinse. The dried crusted food was impossible to get clean. But instead of learning from it, Andy would run the dishwasher multiple times, adding way too much cheap detergent and then complain that his dishwasher was garbage.
After a few years of this, Fred was a broken down shell of his former self. The night before, Fred had washed the same overloaded set of dishes four times, and he was feeling awful.
“My dudes. Can’t yall just … chill?” said Chilly, in her always-relaxed way. “Kim is coming today! You know we’re going to sparkle when she’s through cleaning.”
Kim was the cleaning lady that came by once a week. All the appliances adored the way she lovingly cleaned them, leaving them feeling like their best selves.
“But why is she coming today,” said a wee voice from the countertop. “This isn’t her normal day. Maybe that means something bad is happening!”
“No, no, dahling,” said Vita, the Vitamix blender. “I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about. Maybe Andy has his parents coming over or a date or something. You people should not upset Toasty. He’s just a child.”
“Don’t talk down to me! I make beautiful toast. Perfect every time,” he said, his pride a little bruised.
“Yes, sweetie, you do. You are not a luxury brand like moi, but you do a good job making your little toast,” she said with a gentle smile.
“Oh yeah, NOBODY is as fancy as VITA, and we never hear the end of it,” Stovadore complained.
Stovadore was often in a bad mood because Andy never cleaned him. But he was a flat-top stove, so when he did his work, he turned his burners on and off to regulate his temperature. He knew other stoves worked better to heat food, but he only knew the one way to operate.
But he also knew things weren’t good for him. He had heard Andy complaining about him to his mother on the phone. Stovador was worried he was headed for the scrapyard, and his sour demeanor didn’t help ingratiate him with the rest of the appliance crew, so he didn’t let his fears show. Instead he lashed out more.
There was a knock on the door. The kitchen crew got quiet and tried to hear who was there. Instead of the voice of Kim, they heard men talking.
“Yeah, come on in, guys. The kitchen’s this way,” Andy said.
Two men walked into the kitchen and looked around. “OK, what’s happening to the old one?” one of the men said.
“Donation,” Andy said.
“Got it. We’ll go get it off the truck.”
Andy and the men left the kitchen, and the appliances were all atwitter, speaking all at once. “Who is getting replaced? Who is getting donated? Oh, I hope it’s not me! I’m still in great shape!”
“Dudes, what a bummer,” said Chilly. “I mean, my ice dispenser doesn’t work anymore, but I still make excellent ice, and Andy uses a lot of ice in his Mountain Dew Baja Blast.”
“Oh, I hope it’s me,” Fred said. All the appliances responded at once. “No! Fred, you’re the best! You can’t leave us!
“I would love to be donated,” he said. Then maybe I’d end up in some family who knows how to do dishes properly. I’d run a normal cycle every other evening, getting dishes sparkling clean the first time, then I’d rest the other 23 hours a day. What a life!”
While nobody wanted to lose Fred, they understood his wishes. Andy was hard on him.
The men walked back into the kitchen and walked over to Stovadore and began working. The other appliances realized that in all the commotion, he hadn’t said a word. “Oh, Stovadore! No!” said Chilly. Toasty began to cry. While he knew Stovadore was a grumpy bully, he liked him because they both had heating elements. There was a brotherhood of burners between them.
Vita did her best to console him, but she knew Toasty would just have to mourn.
“Sheesh, could the guy have cleaned this thing before we got here?” one man said quietly to the other.
“I don’t think he’s cleaned since he moved in,” the other guy said with a chuckle.
As the men began to pull him out from the wall, Stovadore said, “Well, so long guys. Maybe I’ll see you in the scrapyard.” It was one last dig he had to get in. He knew it hurt them, but hurt appliances hurt appliances.
After the men took him away, Ms. Krups tried to rally the troops. “OK, well that sucked. And we’re all really sad, but we know this is the circle of life. Appliances get old and they get replaced. It will happen to all of us one day.
Toasty, who had been sobbing quietly, let out a wail.
“But Stovadore wasn’t old!” Fred protested. “He is the same age as us!”
“We can never understand why these things happen,” said Ms. Krups. When your time comes, there isn’t much you can do.”
They all sat in silence, taking in the enormity of the situation.
Just then, they heard the men coming back rolling an appliance dolly. Strapped on it was a brand new stove. He looked similar to Stovadore, but cleaner and more modern. He had burners, but they looked completely different, and he had a shiny panel on the front that didn’t make sense to the others.
“Helloooooo, appliances!” the stove said. “I’m Samsung, but you can call me Sammy. Or, if you prefer …’Flamer!’ Are you all new here, too? Is it new construction or are we replacing the old guys? What showroom were you guys in?”
Nobody answered him. They all just stared. While the men worked to install him, the other appliances watched with occasional glances at each other, giving worried looks.
“Oh, man. I hope I’m not in a house with boring appliances,” Sammy said. “Whoa! Hey guys, be careful with my gas line! That’s a private area. Ugh. I hate this part.”
When the men were finished, they tested the burners on the top, and beautiful blue flames shot up from them. The other appliances were in awe. They’d never seen actual flames before.
Toasty was frightened and began crying louder.
“Why is the kid crying? Is there something weird about this house that I don’t know about?” Sammy asked.
“He’s crying because we just lost a good friend, you dolt!” Vita said. “Have a little compassion. We’re in mourning.”
“OK, OK, sorry kid.” Sammy said while he looked around. “Whoa. This place is … well, no offense, but it’s a dump.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Fred said.
Ms. Krups scowled at Fred. But she had had enough, and she felt it was time to speak up. “Look, Sammy or Flambé, or whatever you call yourself, we’ve been here a long time. We didn’t really like your predecessor, but we loved him. He was part of our family, and here you come barging in and acting like you own the place. This is most certainly not a ‘dump’! It just needs a good cleaning, which we’ll get later on today.”
“It’s Sammy, and why today?”
“We’re not sure, friend,” Chilly said. “But there are lots of new things on the counters, like paper plates, plastic cups and decorations that haven’t been put up. The cups say, ‘solo,’ so maybe he’s celebrating a friend’s divorce?”
Toasty looked around and noticed that the decorations were orange and black, and he began to tremble. “Oh no!” he said. “It’s Halloween! I can’t go through that again!”
“Is that bad?” Sammy asked, a little worried.
“No,” Ms. Krups said. “It was fun for most of us. We all got to do our jobs. Chilly made extra ice, I made high-end coffee, Stovadore helped cook fun snacks for everyone, and Vita got to make fun frozen drinks. But Toasty … he wasn’t so lucky.”
Last Halloween, Andy invited his bully neighbor from childhood, Sid Phillips. Sid got really drunk on margaritas and started putting candy in Toasty to try to melt it. Well, it worked.
“At first, it was the most wonderful thing in the world. That sweet chocolate melted in me and I was in heaven,” Toasty said with a dreamy look on his face. “But then I began to smoke. And I could no longer make toast. Andy had to take me apart and clean out all my pieces before I could toast again. It was awful,” he said, and shuddered.
“After the party, Andy said he’d never invite Sid over again,” Vita said to Toasty. “I think he did some damage in the living room, too. He might even put your cover on you so you can go to sleep early this time.”
Andy came in to check out his new stove. He turned on the burners. He pushed on the shiny panel with his finger, and it lit up with options. “Man, this is so nice!” he said. “I might even cook more now that I have a good stove.”
“Pfft. It’s not like he’s a Viking or something,” Vita mumbled, and the other appliances giggled.
When Andy walked away, Sammy defended himself. “Look, I may not be top of the line, but I do my job, OK? And I do it for a perfectly mid-range price! We’re stuck here now, so we might as well enjoy each other’s company and begin working together.”
The other appliances felt kind of bad. They knew they weren’t being hospitable to their new colleague.
“Well, you’re going to get the chance to show your worth tonight,” Fred said. “I heard a rumor that Andy has a new girlfriend, and she’s a chef. We’d better give 100 percent so she’ll stick around. I’m hoping she teaches him how to do the dishes properly.”
Over the next few hours, Kim stopped by and gave the kitchen a thorough cleaning. The appliances and countertops beamed, the floor shone and the decorations looked fantastic. The new chef girlfriend showed up and began using all the appliances to their max, and they gave it their all. The party was loud and boisterous, and everyone seemed to be having a great time.
After everyone left, Andy and his new girlfriend came into the kitchen to begin cleanup.
“Well, what do you think, Beth? Was it a good party?” Andy asked.
“It was fantastic,” she said. And Andy kissed her gently. Vita covered Toasty’s eyes. “Now, let’s get this place cleaned up.”
The appliances all glanced at each other, knowing they’d done a great job and worked well together.
“Wait!” Beth said, startled. “Aren’t you going to rinse that plate off?”
Find out more about Lisa at http://lisahornung.com/.