For a long time, we had no toast. That's right - no toaster oven, no pop-up toaster. I guess at first it was a matter of money or an I-don't-have-time-to-clean-one-more-appliance issue; but gradually our toastlessness morphed into a lifestyle - we were toast refuseniks. Oh, there were the times we threw caution to the wind and toasted several pieces of bread at once under the broiler...but days like those were few and far between. My children accepted that their lives included no regular toast.
Then, about 5 years ago, I found a stainless steel 2-slice toaster at the thrift store for 3 dollars. Deciding it was time to rethink my ban on toast and liven up our menu a bit, I took the creature home and stored it in a cabinet, whence we would take it occasionally in an attempt to toast our sandwich bread. This was always a challenging proposition, as our new acquisition was something of an overachiever with apparently only 2 settings - burned and incinerated. What could I expect for 3 bucks, anyway?
Inexplicably, the children loved that toaster. They would frequently beg to use it, but most times I refused - I wouldn't feel up to the whole drama of watching for flames, baking soda at the ready in case the bread didn't pop up in time. The days I gave in to their pleas were almost holiday-like in feel, the children merrily popping slice after slice in the toaster, chopsticks in hand for retrieving the inevitable charred pieces that would remain stuck in the depths of our stainless steel monster.
So earlier this year, having seen one too many blackened slices of bread emerge from the maw of our thrift-store purchase, I took the kids to Kohl's to purchase a real toaster. A Black and Decker 4-slice toaster, my friends, with a special setting for bagels and another special setting for frozen waffles. This baby sports numbered knobs which assign to each pair of toast its own particular level of doneness. And there are 2 removable crumb trays for ease of cleaning. It is a toaster to be proud of; a toaster, in fact, that demands to reside in full view on the kitchen counter.
6 months, people - that's all it took for my formerly unspoiled, grateful-for-burned-bread-once-in-a-blue-moon children to become the pickiest toast eaters of all time. Susie demands toast set no higher than 3. David (conditioned, no doubt, by all those years of overdoneness) needs his set on 6. Brian and Rachel opt for a middling 4. And none of them - none - will tolerate a sandwich served on plain old bread. You know, the soft kind that hasn't been heated, the kind that doesn't crunch?
The last time I tried to skip toasting the bread, they cried.
Why am I telling you this? I don't know. Maybe so that when my children are older, their spouses will understand how important their toasting rituals are to them. Perhaps it will give any unfortunate people who marry into our family a little perspective on how my grown children's toast history may have shaped their warped attitudes toward sandwiches and english muffins. Maybe, just maybe, they will understand how having a cheap (and lazy) mother can turn normal children into toast-deprived maniacs.
Because, really? What we are dealing with here is so not normal...