The Appliance Body Count


Have you ever had a week where every appliance in your house breaks down, gets struck by lightning, or just seems to inexplicably and suddenly become contrary?

I’m having one of those weeks. The appliance bodies are piling up for the landfill. It’s like there’s something viral being passed along the electrical circuits in my house, just waiting to fry every appliance we own. Now that I think about it, I don’t ever remember a time when only ONE appliance died. It’s ALWAYS more than one, as if something as contagious as the plague is lurking in our vents just looking for a way to cause trouble and force me to write big checks. This time, so many appliances have died that it feels like Monopoly money I’m doling out.

To start the week, an obnoxious, ill-mannered man creamed one of our cars, while it was parked in the Target parking lot. I was shopping and didn’t discover the damage until I came out to find an off-duty cop leaning against my car with his arms crossed, clearly determined to prevent Mr. Bad Manners from scampering away. God bless that cop.

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of my middle child screaming, “It’s raining over my bed AGAIN, Mom!” as if this was somehow my fault and something I had chosen to happen as a way to screw with his day. Just for the record, we re-roofed two years ago. This shouldn’t be possible. We’re aware there’s a leak. We’ve called the man. He’ll come when he can. In the meantime, I scrambled to find my gumbo pot to position it in the best spot to catch the deluge. Classy.

Next, I jumped into my husband’s car because it was parked behind mine (We live in an old house. No garage. The driveway was built for one small motorcar at the turn of the century—not a 14-year-old Suburban and three other old cars) and backed down our steep driveway to take my daughter to school for an early-morning practice. That’s when a bucket of water rained down on her from the leaky sunroof. She got soaked. This ruined her carefully straightened hair. She would have preferred to face the day with a broken leg. She was not a happy camper, and she was vocal about it.

“Why is everything we own so old and broken?” she demanded.

“Easy answer, sweetie: Three kids, college, sports, cheerleading, show choir, summer camp, braces, 4 cars, groceries, insurance, medical bills . . . but what it comes down to is—choices. We’ve made choices about our family budget. We’re trying to be good stewards of limited recourses,” I said.

I have to admit it: I feel her pain. I’m sick of the old cars, too. The turn signal in my old Suburban has been making that annoying blinking sound off-and-on for seven years. The locks don’t work. Before I climb in after shopping, I check to make sure no one is hiding in the car. No kidding. Everything we own is a little bit special. It’s tiresome.

“Well, I think we need new cars,” she retorted.

“Me, too,” I responded.

After dropping her off, I came home and opened my freezer to dig out a roast for dinner. That’s when I discovered it wasn’t working. Thus began a massive freezer clean out in order to salvage as much as possible. I began frantically cooking what I could and packing the rest into coolers. By 6:30 am, I had baked a ham, a roast, and made homemade Chex mix. I marinated chicken breasts; I defrosted an assortment of sweet rolls and breads on the counter, and I briefly considered throwing a pizza party for the neighborhood kids for dinner to get rid of a stack of soggy pizzas. I can’t bear waste.

I shoved the melting ice cream into blenders, made milk shakes, and thrust them into the hands of my teenager and his friends as they headed to school. Honestly, my son looked fairly pleased with how the freezer demise worked out for him.

My kitchen looked like we were packing for a hurricane evacuation. It wasn’t even 7 am, and I was already tired and teary.

Since I was already filthy from mopping up the car and cleaning out the freezer, I decided to hit the treadmill. After the first mile, I heard, over the “Hallelujah Chorus” blaring in my ear buds as a little pick-me-up, the unmistakable crunching sounds of the treadmill shredding important metal parts. Then I smelled the burning motor. Pulling the emergency stop cord, I abandoned that sucker like it was a sign from God not to exercise.

Going along with my I’m-already-dirty theme, I decided to mow the small patch of yard we have in back. I’m not a yard work kind of gal, as I talk about in my books, so this was a sign of how desperate I was for distraction.

You know what happened, right? Yep. Broken lawnmower. I left it parked next to the grill that broke last month.

I wondered, briefly, if I would be considered an alcoholic if I poured a mimosa just for myself before 10 am. Fearing that I would drink the entire bottle of champagne if I opened it to make one drink—to avoid waste—it was a tough call. Then I pulled up a bar stool and dialed my husband’s cell phone. I felt the need to spread the joy around.

“Do want the good news or the bad news?” I asked him.

“Good. Definitely the good,” he answered quickly, recognizing my tone and proceeding with caution, “Have you been drinking?”

“Yes, I have. Don’t worry about it. Good news is: You won’t have to mow the lawn for a while,” I said, taking a big swig of mimosa and laughing hysterically.


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