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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The ‘Magic’ of the Microwave

There’s no such thing as a completely hassle-free day. Not for me, at least.

(This is just another way of saying that I can never be fully idiot-proofed against. If there’s a hassle nearby, it’ll find me. If the hassle’s way back in the far corner, shackled in a locked cabinet under a pile of stuff, it’ll pull some hassle Houdini and spring at me when I least expect it.

If a place has been entirely wiped clean of hassles by trained professionals in hazmat suits wielding rags and swiffers soaked with Lysol-brand Hassle B-Gone spray, then a pain and an annoyance will get together, mate, and squirt a slimy newborn hassle into the middle of my lap. This is what is. I sit powerless in its wake.

And also in a pile of after-hassle-birth goo, apparently. Funny how my analogies always this way.)

I must say that I’m pleased to report that my day at the beer chalet has been mostly hassle-free. It might have been rendered entirely, miraculously hassle-free, but for two niggling details:

1. The current laws of the universe, which attract hassles to me like I’m an electromagnet in a fork factory.

2. The microwave oven.

Not the microwave oven in general as an invention, of course. Without any microwave ovens, my life would no doubt be far more hassle-ful, what with all the burning myself on conventional ovens, and the grease fires I’d be starting, and all the time and money spent popping my instant popcorn with defibrillator paddles. No, me and microwaves as a whole — we tight.

The microwave oven in this particular getaway home, however, is a different beast entirely than the microwaves I’ve known. It’s quite old, for starters. It may well have been the first microwave oven model produced. It’s possible — this is my current working theory, in fact — that this microwave oven was constructed before scientists had actually discovered microwave radiation. I say this because nowhere on, inside underneath or near the device does is say any fricking thing about ‘microwaves’.

This wouldn’t constitute a hassle, if the thing were clearly a microwave oven. You could label it a ‘sock drawer’ for all I care; if it’s got the familiar buttons and door and ‘REDENBACHER TIME!’ setting somewhere, I’ll get the gist.

(And I probably won’t store my socks in there, no matter what it’s called. Tends to make everything taste like my Aunt Jean’s meatloaf.)

But this thing looming ominously over the stove isn’t like that. It looks like a food dispenser from an old Soyuz space station or something. There are buttons — but some of them actually push in. When’s the last time you pushed a button, and it actually depressed? We humans aren’t made for that — our years of touchscreen phones and whisper-soft keyboards have evolved us past this nonsense. I could have broken a metacarpal, for crissakes.

Also, there are an awful lot of instructions on the thing referring to something called ‘The Magic Codes’. Like:

Sandwiches, 1 Thick: CODE 25


Simmer: CODE 6

Simmer? I’ve never simmered in a microwave. I’ve never dreamed of simmering in a microwave, and I’m not sure it’s entirely legal. Also, not all of the codes are used — there are gaps in the numbers. CODE 8, for instance, is nowhere to be found. What the hell happens if I press in CODE 8? Do I get beef wellington? Does it launch a missle somewhere in Irkutsk? Does June Cleaver crawl out of the thing and bop me with a rolling pin because I didn’t read the damned directions?

I don’t know. I just know I’m sure as hell not pressing in CODE 8.

Look, I’m not a complete idiot. (Give it time.) I could tell the thing is for cooking food — or incinerating it, or materializing it out of spare chicken gravy molecules floating nearby, perhaps — but I couldn’t be sure it was a microwave. It could have been a toaster oven or convection doohickey or some other thing I’m not supposed to use without adult supervision. And even the name of the thing was suspect:

MVP II: Magic Chef

That doesn’t help me at all. I wanted to know that if I put my bag of popcorn inside, I’d get popped popcorn back. From the ‘Magic Chef‘ — who the hell knows? I might set the bag on fire. If I do it just right, I might get ‘simmered popcorn’, apparently. I might find a rabbit in a hat, for all I know. No help.

(Though it does lend credence to my theory that this was invented before they knew anything about microwaves. If I could find the manual, I fully expect it to refer to ‘invisible oven gnomes’ who come through a little door in the back to breathe on your food for the allotted time. That’s the level of sophistication this contraption suggests.

Also, that would explain a lot about Aunt Jean’s meatloaf. Especially if the gnomes eat a lot of garlic. And socks.)

Clearly, this wasn’t meant to happen. So I enjoyed my bag of kernels for lunch, washed it down with a beer, and made an appointment to see a dentist as soon as humanly possible next week. But at least it’s just for cracked molars, rather than Mrs. Cleaver knocking a few loose for railing to ‘RTFM, dear’.

Other than that, it’s a pretty good day. I could really get into this not-skiing thing.

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