Ancient History

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Eulogy for a School Cafeteria Microwave

Upon learning the news of your demise in a morning email from the school, my thoughts turned to the cold ground beef stroganoff my son carried in his insulated lunch bag in a reusable container. If I’m honest, I felt worse for the stroganoff than for you, dead microwave, but above all I felt badly for my son.

He liked you. A lot.

I was unable to warn him of your sudden, dramatic death before he went off to school, happily dreaming of a lunch of ground beef in a sour cream sauce over egg noodles. The hope of home cooking may have carried him through a morning of hum-drum school business. I thought about him bouncing into the cafeteria, mouth watering only to be crushed. Where were you? Thankfully, he was allowed to use the microwave in the teacher’s lounge, just for that day.

Since you’ve been gone, the leftovers are stacking up in our refrigerator. Who is supposed to eat them? Me? Our microwave is still very much alive, still very much polite. Even when I warm a cup of coffee for the ninth time in one morning, it persists in wishing me to “ENJOY YOUR MEAL!” with bold, cold green digital letters. Our microwave was on a course to live a long life because 95% of it’s job was warming coffee.

I guess you would have lived a longer life if fourth-graders drank coffee and hated mom’s lasagna. That’s the takeaway from your life, your death, and the new school policy of no more microwave meals from home. This will signal a seismic shift in food consumption. Moms like me will find themselves revisiting last night’s chicken enchiladas, rather than having our children do it for us. Our microwaves will expire before their time.

No microwave is an island, but many have their own ecosystem. You, as a school cafeteria microwave, most likely had an entire microscopic jungle. That’s cool, though. You harnessed radiation causing food molecules to move like hyperactive toddlers. Too bad you caught on fire. Too bad. I miss you. My kids miss you. My refrigerator misses you. My microwave curses you. No longer a mere coffee warmer, it must confront things like coagulated soups and crusted-over beans. Sometimes, these things taste better than they did the night before when flavors have had the chance to meld.

Huh. Maybe I’m glad you died.


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