Mr. Coffee


I cannot remember the last time I used a typewriter. 20 years ago? And a manual typewriter? 35 years ago? An adding machine…. I don’t remember. Decades and decades ago. I remember seeing slide rules in high school. They were beyond me. I learned to use the abacus in Maine in the 3rd grade……

Then there’s Polaroid cameras…that was wild. Going to Disneyland with a Polaroid camera. Everyone smile and there you are with Mickey. Magic.

We used to watch home movies at home a lot. Even better we looked at slides. Dad had boxes and boxes of slides. Dad would put up the movie screen, the light would go out and we’d all sit around the living room and watched slide after slide. The slide projector would whir and click and Niagara Falls. Whir, click Niagara Falls again. Whir, click and Dad pretending he’s falling into Niagara Falls. We loved it. I imagine there was popcorn and soda. We were a big family and that was cheap entertainment. There was a big chair I liked. I’d settle into it, curl up, and we’d eat popcorn and watch slides for hours. Wherever we were living at the time. Orange County, Tacoma, Maine, San Diego,Virginia, Maryland, or maybe a motel in Amarillo with the roads to icy to drive on—there’d be slides, whir, click, Niagara Falls.

I’ll have to start looking through our photo albums again. They’re very late 70’s, and all through the 80’s and most of the 90’s. Maybe a bit beyond. We threw a lot parties. There’ll be a TV and no VCR, there’ll be records spinning and no CD’s;  there’ll be piles of cassettes and a ghetto blaster. We’d be heating up party snacks in a little oven and not the microwave (talk about revolutionary…an old technology that suddenly became essential.) Maybe one of those ghastly coffee pots….though I liked the percolating sounds. Our last one died, thank god, so we got a Mr. Coffee in the 80’s. It died the same night as Joe DiMaggio. Joe was always on TV somewhere, sixty seconds of him and Mr. Coffee. He was to Mr. Coffee what Mrs. Olson was to Folgers. Then the late news said Joltin’ Joe was dead and next morning my Mr. Coffee wasn’t working. It was still and cold. I jiggled the on off button and waited. Nothing. I unplugged and replugged it. Nothing. I checked the outlet.  It was fine. Mr. Coffee was dead. It was my favorite coincidence ever.

The Irish, you know, anthropomorphize their machines. I’ve argued with tea kettles all my life, like my mom did, and my grandmother. I talk to my coffee maker. Talk to all kinds of inanimate things, like they could talk back. I thought everybody did this till my wife caught me bickering with the tea kettle. She looked at me like I was nuts. I had no idea she didn’t talk to tea kettles. She thought the whole notion was so stupid. I said, umm, it’s an old Irish thing. She said sure. I hate it when she says sure. There is something humiliating about being called irrational by a Sioux Indian. You guys with your dream catchers? And talking to a tea kettle is stupid? I didn’t say that of course. But when she walked out of the kitchen I gave the tea kettle a quick shake and it whistled in protest. Don’t listen to her I said.

Anyway, Mr. Coffee’s were gloriously noisy things, they grumbled and groaned, they had a personality. So when our Mr. Coffee died brokenhearted after hearing about Joe, well, it was very sad. I felt sad throwing it into the recycle bin. I’m sure I didn’t throw it at all, but dropped it carefully. I had to fight the urge to keep it. It still makes me sad to think about the poor thing.

My mother would understand.

Joltin’ Joe brewing joe.

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