Appliances sure can be a pain in the wallet. Last year we had a triple whammy. First it was the kitchen stove, then the dryer died, and just before Christmas the dishwasher took its turn.
If an essential appliance had died, like the coffeemaker or my flat screen TV (an essential man cave appliance), I would have rushed right out to buy a new one; but wouldn’t you think we could get by without those other domestic luxuries?
The stove met its Waterloo in late July, a few weeks before our anniversary. When the oven thermostat quit working, I questioned why we needed a thermostat to control the oven temperature. “My Great Grandma didn’t have a thermostat for her oven”, I told Yvonne, “and she baked the best homemade biscuits in the whole world.” “Your Great Grandma cooked on a wood stove,” Yvonne replied, “And, no, don’t even think about it.”
I told Yvonne I would call Sears to find out how much a new computer brain would cost, but all she did was roll her eyes as she turned to go in the other room, and started mumbling something under her breath about who needed a new brain.
Wouldn’t you know it; the person I got on tech support at Sears was a lady, like she was going to take my side. She politely listened to my story and then said, “Your wife is right Mr. Brown, you do need a new brain.” I swear I could hear her chuckling as she made that comment. She went on to tell me that a new computer brain would cost more than the stove was worth. As I hung up the phone, I realized that I might as well give in and take the high road. “Okay honey,” I said to Yvonne, “I think I could fix it, but I’ve decided to buy you a new stove for our anniversary.” My timing was just right because Yvonne already had the car keys in her hand and was ready to head out the door to buy a new stove.
The dryer died in the fall. Well, it didn’t exactly die but you could tell it was on its last tumble. When you turned it on it wouldn’t shut off, and it took about five hours to dry a load of clothes. As it ran, it emitted a slight scorching odor and would intermittently make a grinding whirling noise that sounded like it was chewing up our clothes. I managed to get Yvonne to put up with it for a couple of weeks, but when she threatened to report me to the fire department, I agreed to call a local appliance repairman. Wouldn’t you know it; he said the problem was probably the computer brain, which would cost more to replace than the dryer was worth. So much for gender support. But I had another idea. I suggested to Yvonne that I could string up a clothesline in the backyard for her to hang clothes on like her Mom did. She didn’t reply, but as she turned to go get her car keys I heard her muttering something under her breath about needing a piece of rope to string something up in the backyard.
So off we went to the appliance store to buy a new dryer. I quickly spotted one that was on sale for $299. Actually, it was the first one in a long row of dryers. It had two buttons – on and off, and hot or warm. “What more do you need,” I thought to myself. “This looks like a nice one.” I said to Yvonne. She looked at me and than at the salesman. “Do you have a piece of rope,” she asked him. The salesman just smiled politely and followed her down the long row of dryers. I tagged along, staying a safe distance behind them. But I couldn’t help but notice as we walked down the row that each successive dryer had more buttons and a higher price than the one before it. About two-thirds of the way down the row Yvonne finally stopped in front of a dryer and started examining it. I started counting its buttons but knew better than to offer a comment. After a few persuasive comments by the salesman, Yvonne looked at me and said, “I like this one.” Remembering our recent stove purchase, I decided it would probably be best to just give in and take the high road. “Okay honey,” I said. “I think I could have fixed the old one, but I’ve decided to buy you a new dryer for Christmas.”
Then, as luck would have it, about a week before Christmas we were sitting in the man cave watching my new television (recently purchased as a fair tradeoff for the stove and dryer), when we heard a loud grinding noise coming from the kitchen. It sounded strangely like the grinding noise the dryer had made, only louder. We headed for the kitchen, sure that all we would find when we opened the dishwasher would be a pile of ground up glass. The dishes were fine, but it was obvious that we needed a new dishwasher. I turned to Yvonne and said, “I think it’s the computer brain.” She started to smile, but before she could say anything, I decided to just give in and take the high road. “Honey” I said, “Your birthday is coming up in a few weeks, how about if I just buy a new dishwasher for your birthday?” Without batting an eye she replied “Well, I already have an old one, but he’s not worth much and doesn’t work half the time, so okay, you can buy me a new one.” (I’m sure she meant a dishwasher.)