Friday, August 21, 2009
My husband brought home an electric water kettle. There were no warning signals, no danger signs: he just showed up at the house with it one day like you'd do with a straggly kitten. Fait accompli. I sat it next to the teakettle and glowered.
"It boils water faster," he said.
"So?" I said.
"So it boils water faster."
"Take it back."
"But it boils water faster."
We were at an impasse.
Over the next couple of days, the electric kettle emerged from its cardboard box. It plugged itself in. It launched its charm offensive using the only trick it knew, which was to boil water. (The electric kettle edition of How to Win Friends and Influence People is not exactly a back breaker.)
I am unmoved. My teakettle may be battered and noisy and slow, but it's a touchstone, a physical link to all the people before me who've boiled tea at a moderate rate and then scrambled to shut off the ungodly howling that results.
Besides, the interval between flipping on the burner and flipping up the lid is sacred space, a bright caesura in the murk of the day. For those five or eight or ten minutes, you wait. You don't go far; you don't get to work. You dabble. You potter. You let your mind wander until the teakettle, like a military bugler, calls your thoughts into formation and marches you, whole and ready, into now.
Plus you've got tea!