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Saturday, October 24, 2015

So long, Old Sharp

I knew it was a question of “when”; the inevitable “if” being a foregone conclusion. Still, one is never fully prepared when the news is received.

With a series of pops, snaps, buzzes, sparks, flashes, flames and smoke; our trusty microwave announced it demise the other day. As disturbing as this was, I was most profoundly impacted with the collateral loss of my roast beef and potatoes innocently expecting a gentle thermal increase.

While scraping the ash and debris speckled dinner into the trash, I tried to recall when we obtained this particular microwave. In all honesty, it was probably during Clinton’s first term. Face it, a microwave has become a purely utilitarian device. No longer a kitchen luxury, and as awe inspiring as a bowl of instant oatmeal they are just---well--- there.

My thoughts wandered over the years, as I retrieved a pan and lid, placed a new batch of roast beef and potatoes in it to warm. A twist of a knob, a “foomp” of gas igniting; and my meal was under way. Old school, yes.

I remembered that back in the 1960’s they were called “Radar Ranges” What a wonderful name! It bespoke of the times; the Cold War was raging, the Space Race was full on. Planes were flying faster, higher, and farther. Technology was emerging, and all was good; or so we thought. It just sounded so with-it, so cool, as if the Great American Marketing Machine were proclaiming “HA! Take that, Godless Commies! We are so advanced we COOK with radar!”

So it was that one evening, my Dad came home more excited than a kid on Christmas Eve.  He had heard a new restaurant was opening the next town over—AND---they cooked everything with RADAR!

The following Friday, we piled into the Pontiac, and headed west. I can’t recall the name of the place, or even the location. I was perhaps 11, and my dinner was going to be cooked by the same stuff seeking out Russian bombers trying to sneak across Canada!

I do recall waiting in line, the atmosphere fairly abuzz, no pun intended. Had we been paying attention to the countenances of the exiting diners, we may have been somewhat less enthusiastic.

Finally, we were seated. A review of the fairly simple menu, orders placed, and we eagerly waited what The Future would hold. Literally and figuratively; after all, we were sampling the New Day of cooking! A culinary revolution would soon be placed beneath our very noses!

After what seemed half an eternity, with all the fanfare usually assigned to the hanging up of a used dish-rag; dinner was served.

As it turned out, the presentation was apropos for the culinary delights. Our individual plates all held variations upon the theme of monochromatic gray. Be it beef, chicken, potato, or beans; all looked blandly, un-appetizingly, similar. On the positive side it was hot, I do remember that.

I also recall the placed folded about six months later.

The Seventies ushered in an era of God only knows what. The upstart Radar Range was now being subtly referred to as a “micro-wave”. 

This was more fitting to the times; because all we were saying is give Peace a chance. Microwave was much more palatable. Rather than huge, Russkie bomber hunting radar waves cooking one’s food; the much more benign “microwave” worked all the wonders.

A little, bitty, nice friendly wave; just like the ones found on a calm, relaxing day at the beach. Only they are in your kitchen, for a mere grand.

But, like all technological wonders, the price began to drop. Do you remember when a basic desktop calculator was about a hundred bucks?

Being the practical family we are (remember, LB and I had 4 children) we didn’t jump on that bandwagon any time soon. We finally broke down and got our first one in the late seventies or early eighties. The thing broke a couple of times, and we had it repaired. The last time it quit, we discovered it was cheaper to replace it. So we did.

That one also died, and was replaced. With six people in family, that bad boy got a real work-out. It also died and was replaced by a Super-Duper sale one. It was too small, too under-powered, and in general not well received.

I don’t know what became of that one only that the lately departed had arrived. And now… it has been ceremoniously committed to the dumpster at the end of the drive.

I rather like not having the thing there. I don’t need a kitchen appliance with more complex controls and computing power than John Glenn’s spacecraft used, lurking over my shoulder.  We didn’t really cook in the thing. We don’t consume micro-wave popcorn. We have a stove, we have pots and pans.

Hmm…maybe we can start a new Foodie Trend---RETRO WARMING!

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