There’s no reason to rehash 2020. We know how horrible it was. Insidious, really, in almost every way. I don’t like whining, so I decided to focus on a particular aspect of that nasty year—my relationship with inanimate objects.
We all have feelings for objects, and these are often far deeper than the feelings we might harbor for a neighbor, say, particularly one that cooks cabbage every Friday and renders the hallways of our apartment building impassable.
I happen to think very highly of my humidifier which this year developed a loud ticking sound, as well as mold. Mr. H, as I refer to it, has been with me almost a decade, spewing a cold, misty plume over my plants for all this time. I don’t know how humidifier years translate to human years, but I’d say Mr. H is probably close to a century old, a sage among his contemporaries, of which there is only one in my apartment, an upstart from Amazon that needs far too constant refilling. I’m concerned 2021 may be Mr. H’s last year, what with the ticking and mold. I sprayed it with Clorox, which may lengthen its existence, but I am living in fear in an apartment that now smells like a laundromat.
Then there’s the Cuisinart I inherited from my other. She bought it in 1975, a bare two years after it was introduced at a trade show in Chicago. She thought it was a French invention, and no one disabused her of the notion, or told her it had been invented by an MIT graduate with a strange German name. Had she known this I’d still be making célerie rémoulade with a potato peeler. My mother had fought in the war and did not like Germans. The Cuis has grown yellow with age. It does not spin as fast as it used to, and the blades are getting dull. It, too, may expire soon.
I used to have a thing for my vacuum cleaner because it was small and squat and somewhat resembled a French bulldog on wheels, or Salvador Dali’s anteater. But it stopped hoovering a while back. I changed the bag and looked for obstructions in its snout, but it was dead, not even a wheeze or a whimper. I mourn it only slightly.
I won’t mention the perfidious juicer, or the traitorous rice steamer.
I will, however, write briefly about my 1989 Avanti convertible, which I bought in the 90s from a car museum. It’s a thing of beauty, designed by Raymond Loewy, who is better known for his creation of the classic Coca Cola bottle. Loewy, a Frenchman, was far ahead of his time and the Avanti was the swan song of the Studebaker car company. It is long, low, sleek, with a pilot’s dashboard, leather seats, and a trunk just large enough for a quart of milk. I love the car. To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t another like it in the tri-state area and it garners compliments wherever it goes, when it goes. It is largely inanimate, because when I drive it, something goes wrong: a fuel pump, a flat tire, a dead battery, a window that once down refuses to go up. The result is that I don’t drive it that much.
There are a few more inanimate objects with which I had relationships in 2020, but they’re not worth focusing upon. I am ready to build something with the new showerhead that is supposed to make me squeaky clean without soap, and there are possibilities so far unexplored with an exercise device called a Flextron, bought in 2019 but never used. That’s okay. Meaningful relationships take time to build.
I wish you, your families, and all your belongings great and small a drama-free and bountiful new year.