I got her in 1995, the summer I moved to Virginia to start a teaching job. A bread machine was perhaps a strange thing for a single woman to buy, and I'm not sure what I was thinking, but . . . whatever. She made good bread every so often. When I got married to John in 1997 I took her with me, but she did not get used for a whole year. Just as I was contemplating giving her away, I used her again and didn't really ever stop. We took her with us when we moved to our second house and used her every day, almost, after Jack was born and then Will. Having babies makes you hungry for carbs. And every time my Indiana In-laws came to help, of course they needed to eat bread.
Life was good for Ms. Hitachi B. Machine for many years. She had a position of honor in our household and didn't mind making the same oat bread forever, and the same pizza dough, and never any quickbreads. (You might as well make quickbreads the normal way.) Her glory years were the Swarthmore years, making sandwich bread for Will and Jack's lunches, and pizza dough for the Friday night pizza ritual.
But one day I was browsing at the upscale kitchen store, W-S, and a shiny new stainless steel bread machine caught my eye. She had a convection oven, many more settings, including "artisan," and this one called my name, almost audibly. "Lauren. I'm Q. Z. Nart. Take me home!" Looking back, my big mistake was talking about this machine in front of Ms. H. B and saying things like "Our bread machine doesn't have near that number of settings." Or, in a moment of desparation, "Don't you think our bread machine has gotten noisier?" John was the one to actually say out loud what I was thinking: "We've had this bread machine a very long time. If you find one that you'd really like, why not get a new one?" And I'd murmur, "Oh, no, I'd wait until this one dies."
One night shortly after that, at 2:10 AM, I heard the crash. I knew it was Ms. H. B. Machine right away, even in my grogginess. I took my time walking downstairs, getting slippers and turning the hall light on. Because I knew. That it would be too late.
There she was, lying on her side, door akimbo, a blob of dough flung two feet away from her, just under the range. I picked her up gently. Her door wouldn't close and a plastic corner had sheared off. I sighed. I brushed off the blob of dough and put it in a plastic container, to deal with the morning. I had heard dark rumors of such things, of bread machines moving around the counter during the kneading stage, and actually flinging themselves off the edge. However, this had never happened in 12 years. How strange that it should happen now. Or perhaps I had "accidentally" left her too close to the edge? My sadness is tinged with guilt. A little.
To prove how totally heartless I am, we already have a new Ms. Q.Z. Nart. She is shiny and beautiful, and makes delicious bread. All's fair in love, war, and kitchen gadgets.