As I stand over my stove, browning beef filets in my orange Le Crueset dutch oven, my mind drifts back to Christmas, when I was seven — the day I now refer to as The Infamous Suzy Homemaker Incident of 1968.
The morning of the disaster, I was filled with my usual hyena-like hysteria, thinking about all the presents I was going to get. I was wearing my fluffy pink bathrobe and periwinkle slippers and, as the rest of my family slept, I gave one last go ‘round to check for hidden gifts that my parents had stashed. When I came up short, I resorted to pawing through the wrapped boxes under the tree, in search of something in the shape of the present I wanted the most. My zenith of gifts, my one true desire: a Suzy Homemaker Easy-Bake Oven.
I’d never wanted anything so much in my life. Bikes, model horses, skateboards, a Slip-N-Slide, purple corduroy jeans from Prima Donna — all of these paled in comparison to my beloved Oven.
Please, God, let me get a Suzy Homemaker Oven, I prayed as I sat in front of the gigantic, glowing tree, worrying. I swore to all that was holy that I would, if blessed with the one thing I wanted more than a new Flexible-Flyer, use it to create value in the world and never stop making scrumptious baked goods for my family and everyone I knew. I pictured myself, as a grown-up, still creating masterpieces in my Oven and being the go-to gal should anyone need a moist cake with purple, pink or yellow frosting. Maybe I’d even open a store.
As the morning light flooded the living room and the hour became an acceptable time to stand at the foot of my parent’s bed and beg them to please get up so we could start opening presents, my heart beat faster, knowing what was in store for me.
When the festivities finally began, my sister and I ripped open each present with the ferocity of lions pouncing on their prey. Paper flew in all directions and we barely finished with one before we were lunging, drooling and wild-eyed, for another. The carpet disappeared under our feet as the mass of ribbons and gift wrappings covered the living room floor.
I held my breath with each present I opened, anticipating my beloved Oven but as the gift massacre wore on, I started to lose steam. Where is my Suzy Homemaker? I thought. What if I don’t get one?
Just as I began to lose all my rip-tear-throw stamina, my mother said to my father, “I think there’s still one more present for Amy but I don’t see it under the tree.” My father left the room for several seconds and came back holding something that appeared to be a rectangular shape. I leapt up, knelt near my father as if I were about to be knighted and took the Oven-shaped present from his hands.
She was even more beautiful than I imagined her. Bright pink with shiny chrome handles. A clear little door that led to the entrance of her insides which glistened like light reflecting off diamonds. I screamed and almost fainted. She was mine and I was going to bake in her. I was going to make the most delectable treats of all time for the rest of my life with this wondrous contraption.
I immediately took her to the kitchen and my father helped me choose the shape of vanilla cake I wanted to make. We mixed the packaged flour, added some milk and just like that, I was cooking in my very own Suzy Homemaker Easy-Bake Oven.
Sitting with my family around the tree, waiting for my vanilla cake to bake, I had never felt so happy in my life. The aroma wafting in from the kitchen made me even more excited so I rose to go see what magical things were happening in my new Oven.
It was at this moment when I heard a loud explosion.
The kitchen, filled with smoke, reeked of incinerated plastic and metal. There were small flames bursting out of my Oven so my father doused her with several Tupperware bowls filled with water. When it was all over, my Suzy Homemaker Easy-Bake Oven looked like something out of the Towering Inferno — black, smoldering and deformed. It took me weeks to recover from the trauma of seeing her burned alive. My wounds, however, healed with the help of a tetherball pole that was installed in the driveway.
As I bring my mind back to my perfectly seared beef filets, I say a little prayer for that “Easy-Bake” deathtrap and comfort myself with the thought of my precious Williams-Sonoma Slow Cooker.