We All Loved Our Comrade...

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
And bitterly wept as we...

- "The Cowboy's Lament"

One of our own, one who's been with us from the very beginning, has heard the river calls its name. Our microwave. My girlfriend put a dish in it the other evening, some butter to melt actually, and arcs of, well, I guess microwaves, were visible to one and all. Up to that moment, the waves had been invisible and soothing. Now, they were all macro and angry. Once an oasis of reheating, now a portal to some sci-fi scene.

We grieve the loss of this old friend. It was a wedding gift. Eighteen years ago it found us and we found it, a perfect match. We never named it, like we do our cars; we just always referred to it as, well, microwave. But now it sits, umbilical cord cut from mother electricity, display darkened forever.

Kent Meyers wrote a fabulous book, The Work of Wolves, that has an entire chapter titled "The Religion of Broke." One of the minor characters felt that every time something broke, it was the result of spiritual forces hellbent on breaking stuff. One of the other characters, a major one, refused this belief; he reckoned that after so much use and so much time, stuff just, well, broke.

I really liked that character, the major one, and his perspective.

We've got a hunch or two as to why our microwave oven will warm no more. But the larger story here, I believe, is that after eighteen years of everything from melting butter, not margarine mind you, to reheating chili to defrosting chicken, this friend of the family just, well, broke. It's what happens when you use something to the very end, maybe even when you love something to the very end.

The girlfriend and I have a few other things we received during the wedding bliss, stuff that's been with us eighteen years or so. We don't have a lot of stuff like that, but a few things. I guess the most obvious stuff would be, well, us; we've both got each other and we've had each other for eighteen years now. That's a long time.

There's not too much I want written on my tombstone. At one time, I really thought so brave, young, and handsome would've been quite fitting, but that was when I thought I might die young, you know, like one of those angst-ridden poets or something and my widow would come each day to my plot and lay fresh cut jasmine and weep for her love. But now, here in my 40s, I kinda think my epitaph of choice is: he loved her till the very end, then he broke. Or as George Jones sang: he stopped lovin' her today.


  1. May your new microwave be as faithful a friend as the last. A moment of silence, please.

    June 2, 1990. Love this. My boyfriend and I have celebrated and grieved. Gained weight. Tried to lose it. And (ahem) he's gotten some grey hair. But he's even cuter, sweeter, and more amazing than he was when I married him.

  2. JB-
    Sorry for you loss.
    You have, however, let me down a bit with your country music reference. The great George Jones actually sang "He Stopped Loving Her Today".
    May your travels to Target or Wal-Mart to search for a new microwave be blessed!

  3. Justin, a pox upon me. My shame is great indeed for flubbing on George. Thanks for keeping me straight. Conway...what was I thinking?

    I'm pretty sure that's the saddest song in country music...