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The deep toaster

Smeared on October 9, 2022.

I was in the midst of fixing breakfast when it happened.

Wednesday morning had ambled onto my calendar, all plump and rosy in the midst of my week. The coffee was made—all sugared and creamed. The bagel was out of the bag, the bag discarded, the little plastic tabby thing gingerly placed in my vast collection of little plastic tabby things. (These things had caused me much trouble last year, so I knew I could not allow one to escape into the wild ever again.)

But tab trouble was neither here nor there today. Today’s dilemma made that look like a walk in the goatburping park. Thoroughly preoccupied by last night’s goonflayvinous events running in feverish circles inside my brainpan, I had been distracted while constructing my breakfast. I had fixed my breakfast out of order.

My coffee was all creamed up. My bagel was all cream-cheesed up. Yet… I had forgotten to toast it.

For seventeen minutes—or more?—I just stared at the bagel sitting on its plate, agape and aghast (me, not the bagel). What would I do? What could I do? My breakfast was broken and there was no going back. Despair set in; I went catatonic like a horse who just moments ago learned that he had stage IV dong cancer.

I exhaled slowly, trying to gather myself before I went to pieces. The horror—the horror. A gnome peeped out of my wainscoting and jeered. I chucked a saucer at him, then returned to my motionless despair. The Sun continued rising in the sky. As it did each morning, the Sun was readying itself to broil us all in our skins once directly overhead. Off in the distance, a dog talked.

Collecting myself after another seventeen minutes of agog flabbergastity, I picked up the pitiably untoasted bagel and turned it over slowly in my hands. With the cheese firmly slathered on both faces, I hadn’t the foggiest idea how to get the toast onto this bagel now. Could I toast it backwards? No. Could I toast it inside-out? Upside-down? No. Perhaps from the hole outward? No—although, I admit, that would give the ol’ blowtorch something to do this week.

I held the bagel close to my nose and tried to peer between the cheese and the doughy surface, but they were bound too tightly together. Could I somehow—very, very carefully—slip the toastedness between the cheese and the delicious-looking hemi-toroid upon which it so creamily lay? A lightbulb went off in my brainpan: I had an idea. A glorious idea. A splendiferous, superfrabdabulous idea. Would it work? Could it work? There was only one way to find out. I repaired to my garage to fetch tools, hardware, and other things that misleadingly make me appear to be a competent and manly man. Surely I had something pointy or blunt or hammer-shaped which would aid in modifying the toaster to properly entoast a bagel after it had been prematurely encheesed.

(As an aside, this is not how I landed in the hospital on Thursday with three broken legs and a blown-out olfactory bulb. That was an entirely different mishap. But thanks for asking. Maybe I’ll get to that story later, if you’re good.)

And so, I began to tinker with the toaster. I had at the chromed fellow with screwdriver and plier, hammer and sickle. I had it apart, back together, apart again, then back together in a more novel way. Circuits were rewired in ways never imagined possible; buttons, knobs, and mysterious electronic components were added in the most unlikely places. Fully reassembled, parts were left over, so I re-disassembled it and re-reassembled it again. I frowned. Still no good—I began disassembling it once more.

Becasue sipped her coffee, watching me work with an expression that combined confusion and consternation in a manner only I can evoke in my fellow humans.

Finally, alterations to the toaster were complete—as were the careful alterations I made to the bagel to make it fit in the toaster without melting, igniting, or detonating the layer of unfortunate cream cheese that enslathered it. I hadn’t even needed to call on the services of the captain of the Magic Oreo Machine™ this time!

I crossed my fingers. I reached for the toaster’s cord to plug it back into the wall socket—a simple task under most circumstances, but one which now elicited amused titters from my puffy huzzey-muffet, because ten crossed fingers tend to do a very poor job at grasping, pulling cords, or pushing plugs into wall sockets. I failed utterly.

My luck had run out and I needed more. I crossed my toes. I wanted to cross my nose but alas found that impossible: My face only has one nose. (I do have two nostrils and thousands of nose hairs but my nose itself is quite the solitary character.)

After a good deal more squiffling, babbling, hornswoggling, disenhornswoggling, begging, pleading, and finally a few seconds of much-needed assistance from Becasue, the toaster was plugged back in and the bagel was successfully installed into its waiting mouth. I carefully leaned forward and—since my fingers had already proven themselves too irksome to be trusted anymore—depressed the lever using my nose. The toasting had commenced.

The electric coils imprisoning the bagel began to glow—a deep red, then rising to orange. Trillions of electrons screamed into the coils, slammed into the highly resistive nichrome alloy, and blew their loads of photons in all directions. Ohm’s Law lived to see another day.

Becasue watched with anticipation.

The bagel began to toast.

The cream cheese remained uncooked. Unmelted, unburnt, and—so far—unexploded.

I succeeded utterly. I turned to Becasue and smarmed my smarmiest smile. My blonde girl–chipmunk just rolled her eyes at me and sauntered off to the living room, all plump and rosy herself. She was getting good at that—rolling her eyes and sauntering off. Not the least bit deflated and never chastened in the least, I turned back to my glowing toaster and watched intently. Toasting it was indeed. Toasting well. Toasting gloriously.

And the cheese was still gloriously white with the perfect creamy, cheesy consistency.

I had done it.

I had invented a deep toaster.

The squirrels would be so proud.

My new bachelor’s degree in deep learning from the University of Ouagadougou had paid off. I patted my deep toaster on its shiny, chrome casing. “You and I are going to make a brazillion dollars together,” I said proudly. But first I would need to complete my degree in marketing. I remembered with much regret my attempts at selling an earlier invention, self-slicing bread. A game-changer I was sure—the greatest thing since sliced bread itself—and I had even signed a contract with the local breadmongery to put it on their shelves. But after a customer accidentally ate the razorblades baked into each loaf, the safety regulators banned the product in all 48 contiguous states (plus Alaska, Hawaii, and Burkina Faso). My protestations that the customer should’ve read the warning label and my promises to invent a razor-proof gum-guard to go with the self-slicing bread fell on deaf ears. Self-slicing bread joined the ranks of leaded paint, lawn darts, and fission-based firecrackers in the annals of products simply too awesome for the average American consoomer to handle responsibly.

And it was the last time I would trust my copy of Marketing for Dummies, let alone its later edition, Marketing to Dummies.

I patted my deep toaster again and looked out the window. The geese that normally haunt Bouillabaisse Boulevard were on holiday, off in New Hampshire to peep at the leaves and honk at the tourists choking the highways like corpses floating down a river. All of my neighbors’ houses also apparently went on vacation for the week: An ominous sign of things to come?

A highway crew was still scraping the remnants of that forlorn man off the sidewalk. I had warned him about his horsedongery, but he wouldn’t listen. And now those one-way sidewalks had done him in—him and his limited imagination.

I found another of those creatures, those silithicine creatures, dark and shadowy, lurking about my town again, I did—yes, I did. The ones that come at you from behind, the ones that leap out at you from the shadows, cracks, and crevices, the ones that fly around your bedroom ceiling at night, waking you up, waking you up and trying to gnaw the soul from your paralyzed body. I found another one and I destroyed it, I did. This one was in the storm drain, it was. I burned it, I burnt it, I set it on fire, I set it afire, I set it ablaze, the abominable thing and everything around it went up in smoke and the creature is no more.

But I know more are coming.

They never stop.

Perhaps my deep toaster can stop them.

But they never stop.