Back in 1961, soul singer William Bell said “You don’t miss your water/’till your well runs dry.” I believe that. I also believe you don’t miss your quick and easy baked potato ‘till your microwave blows up.
I know that will never be a chart-topping No. 1 hit record, but it comes from a true scenario that had me singing the blues. I call my song “Those Danged Ol’ Microwave Oven Blues.” Here is the VH1 “Behind the Music” story of how it came to be.
The house where I now hang my hat came with a microwave. I was not part of that negotiation, my hat and I arriving later, but I imagine it went something like this:
“It’s going to take some extensive renovations, there could be a cursed ancient burial ground in the backyard and those may or may not be bloodstains in the outbuilding but — tell you what — we’ll throw in this 20-year-old microwave oven.”
“I’ll take it!”
The microwave worked wonderfully until one day it didn’t. Being the resourceful guy I am, I was immediately able to replace it with my daughter’s castoff, former dorm room microwave. She’s out of school, living in another town and I stored her old microwave in the outbuilding (on the opposite side of the alleged bloodstains) for just such an emergency or because I had not yet gotten around to putting it on the curb to be hauled away. Let’s just pretend I was saving it for this particular microwave emergency and not procrastinating.
Had I known I would eventually be using it, I would have purchased my daughter a better microwave when she went off to college because this one… oh, how would the kids of today describe it in their colorful jargon? Oh, yeah. It sucked.
The spinning plate inside constantly came off track. It took two hands to open the door or the unit would slide to the edge of the counter and threaten to pitch whatever was inside onto the floor. Worst of all, the faint smell of exploded dorm room pizza rolls would not go away.
But it cooked a quick and easy baked potato until one day it didn’t and I was back to singing “Those Danged Ol’ Microwave Oven Blues.”
I decided this time to buy a good, name-brand microwave. For legal reasons, I can’t say here exactly what kind that was. But, just for the heck of it, let’s say I bought it from a nice fellow with a name similar to Ken Moore.
“Hey, Ken, I would like to buy one of your good, name-brand microwaves to prepare my quick and easy baked potatoes,” I might have said or might not have said if there is any kind of legal action in the future on the part of the manufacturer regarding this column. “Will it blow up in three months?”
“Absolutely probably not.”
So I did. And three months later, when I wanted a quick and easy baked potato, it blew up.
It did not actually explode-blow up as in sending shards of glass and metal flying through the kitchen, but it did make a terrible racket and shoot what appeared to be microwave lightning bolts all around the cooking area. According to internet microwave experts I consulted, that was bad. So bad, it would cost more to fix it than replace it and the warranty was sketchy because this was an online deal.
So, really, it blew up. And I was back to singing “Those Danged Ol’ Microwave Oven Blues.”
“If I want a baked potato/I’ve got to wait an hour/ Just a poor ol’ country boy/ lost his electromagnetic power / No Redenbacher’s popcorn / Guess I was born to lose / Crying in the kitchen / With the danged ol’ microwave oven blues.”