{ Friday, November 15, 2002 }

Can Opener Retrospective.

Did you know that I own an electronic can opener? Cause I forgot all about it...

We have been living in this house since the first of July. And we are each being reunited with new possessions everyday.

Today I found my electric can opener. It wasn't really hidden. It was up on a shelf in the upstairs kitchen. It was up higher than my head, which I always believe constitutes as 'hidden', but rarely does anyone back me up on that one. I guess it was set there during the move-in process. We have two hand operated can openers downstairs, but, since Emma just got her tongue pierced and I think she's still subsisting on soup, this is really going to improve our quality of life.

I completely forgot that I owned it. Once I saw it, I remembered what I affectionately refer to as Dowry Day when my mother bought it for me. Mom took me out and bought me a *ton* of houseware crap that she knew I'd never bother to purchase for myself (domestic as I am...), and which I guess she was hoping I wouldn't be asking other people for anytime soon (She disapproved of Waste long before disapproving of Waste was cool). The sorts of things I think normal people register for for their weddings, but just the cheap stuff on the registry that's intended for your friends who are still in college to be able to buy. But whatever, Mom took me out shopping and bought me all these small appliances (I have enough that I took to referring to one part of my last kitchen as Small Appliance Wonderland) and other random houseware crap that she believed I needed. I think I asked for a toaster. I got an iron, a juicer, a handheld mixer, a can opener, a toaster and who remembers what all else. A lot of small appliances. A blender (I already had one, but it wasn't up to par apparently).

And I have just been happily reunited with the electric can opener. That I forgot I owned. The mixer is still in its (sealed) box however.

You know, before I owned this can opener, I had my dead gradnmother's. It required the use of a hammer and a screwdriver to operate. I don't think I can properly articulate how tricky that thing was to use. It was probably the electronic can opener that is featured in a can opener museum somewhere as the Adam (or Eve) of can openers.

Okay, I'm going to try to explain this thing to you. This thing that I was absolutely content to use (make sure you use a screwdriver with a plastic handle! No! Don't! Yeah, I know, the tingling will stop soon.). The thing that my grandmother was completely content to use. Yep, we loved this can opener so much we turned it into a family heirloom.

It began with a cord composed completely of exposed wires. Well, it did until Waste and The Black Tape got ahold of it. Then it began with a cord composed of sticky electical tape. The cord itself was about 9 inches long. I don't know exactly. But it was ridiculously short. It was too short to be plugged in in either my grandmother's kitchen or the kitchen of my first apartment. I know that much. It had to be carried out to the living room floor and plugged in at a baseboard in both cases.

The thing was yellowish greenish. And the part where you, you know, stab the can? It was half missing. Okay, the stabbing part was there and with the aid of a hammer could still be made to go through the actual can. It was a little dull. I don't know why no one got it sharpened. I received it after my grandmother's death and for my entire life I had just accepted that part of working the can opener was beating the blade into the can with a hammer.

The part where you push down and that makes the can spin was missing. That other half of the stabbing piece. It was more than missing. It had become manual. You had to put a plastic handled, flat head screwdriver (but not a knife! NO! Don't! Yeah, that tingling will go away soon.) into the actual can opener and push down on this little plate within it and then the thing would work. The little plate inside carried a current. Fun for everyone.

And it smelled like burning. No, really, it did. When making pies or chilli or something that requires more than two cans, we had to let it cool down between cycles. Grandma said otherwise the motor would catch on fire. I never tested that theory. Once it made sparks fly out of the wall socket, but that was just when someone forgot about that "nothing that conducts electricity" rule for what to stick down in there to make it work...

Growing up this was the only electric can opener in my life. Mom got it after Grandma and put up with it for I think half a can before reverting back to her manual ones. She later bought herself a new electric can opener and became a convert, giving me the old one.

Right, so my mother came down and she asked me if there was anything I wanted in the way of housewares and I told her I wanted a toaster. And so she surveyed my housewares and declared that I needed "everything". This was after I had been living on my own for a year and had not yet died of lack of domesticity. Whatever. We went shopping. We got to 'can opener' on her lengthy list of things I could not live without anymore. I told her I had Grandma's old can opener and it still worked just fine (what? That was as just fine as I had ever seen it work). I did mention that Waste was using his pocket knife to open cans... I was quickly outvoted on whether or not I needed a new can opener.

When we got home, Mom wanted to take the poor, old, heirloom can opener to the dumpster, but I insisted that it go to the used appliance store near our house.

Somehow I doubt they were able to resell that contraption. They wouldn't even let me show them how it worked. I like to think that they cleaned it up and maybe sharpened the blade and reduced the risk of electic shock and sold it to some nice family who can use it for several more generations. Or maybe it went to a museum somewhere.

posted by mary ann 8:22 PM