Like Mother, Like Daughter

I have become my mother. I mean, I knew I shared some traits with her, such as we look remarkably alike, or crying at Hallmark card commercials (I used to give her such grief…oh, boo hoo, here’s a card…and darn it if I don’t tear up now at those stupid commercials!) and saying some things to my children that are exactly like I just channeled her. But, honestly, I didn’t realize I had actually turned into my mom until I realized I too have a hate-hate relationship my electric can opener.

When I was a young teenager and our house was decorated in avocado green and harvest gold with brown accents, Mom had an on-going antagonistic relationship with the electric can opener. I don’t know exactly what it did or didn’t do that aggravated her so much, but every time she went to use it a barrage of angry comments flew from her mouth. She would say “I hate this can opener! I swear one of these days I am going to throw it on the floor!” Eye roll from me and my sister. Yeah right, Mom. Like you are really ever going to do that.

Shows what we knew. Our family room and kitchen were an open floor plan. One afternoon as we sat on the couch after school and Mom was in the kitchen making supper, we heard her grumbling at the can opener. Strange grinding noises came from it. Mom became louder in her comments. She was clearly cranking up into a dither. She had PMS….Pissed Mother Syndrome.

And, then out of nowhere, she yelled “I HATE THIS DAMN CAN OPENER!” And with that exclamatory statement, she lifted that can opener over her head with both hands and chunked it to the kitchen floor with all her might. BAM! Metal clanged as the can opener crashed to the floor. The can opener lay dented and crumpled on our parquet floor and a piece or two fell off and scattered across the floor into the dark kitchen corners. My sister and I sat stunned on the couch looking at her in the kitchen.

A friend of mine gave me a magnetic plaque that is on the side of my refrigerator that says “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.” Truer words were never spoken. But, I do have to cook some (when Joel isn’t home) and that requires me to interact with various kitchen appliances, including the electric can opener. Several years ago, I gave away an electric can opener as a white elephant gift at a Sunday School party because it never quite worked. I thought that was the end of the electric can opener woes.

But, no. When we moved into our current house six years ago, I needed a new electric can opener (because I had given away the other one), and I went to the bed and bath supply store and carefully perused all the models. I chose a bright, shiny, stainless steel electric can opener. It matched our stainless steel appliances and I had high hopes for it. As it turns out, it sat there mocking me. Pick me! I’m shiny and new!

This can opener has NEVER worked. It won’t grab hold of the can without the stars and moon in proper alignment, and if it does grab the can, it turns exactly one rotation of the wheel before it chews up the lid and pops off. And, last but not least, it blows the kitchen fuse. Every. Single. Time. The fuse kicks off any appliance plugged in including the toaster oven, counter lamps and under-mounted lighting, and the phone and answering machine. If you have called our house and the answering message doesn’t come on, it is because the fuse blew that day and we haven’t had time to reset the machine. So, opening a can is maddening. By the time I press the fuse reset button multiple times, the kitchen is dark, the crinkled lid is still on the can, and I am red hot angry. And the can opener sits there just daring me to try it again.

When the kitchen fuse blows, I blow my fuse. It isn’t pretty. But, before I could catch myself this past weekend, I actually yelled “I HATE THIS CAN OPENER AND I AM GOING TO THROW IT ON THE FLOOR ONE OF THESE DAYS!” And that is when I had a flashback to my mother standing in the kitchen looking at the mangled can opener on the floor with a self-satisfied smile across her face.

I hope I can stop the awful cycle and not pass on this family trait to my daughter. But, it might be too late already.

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