This is going to sound silly, but I miss the days when people used Corningware coffee percolators. Yeah, I know this particular kitchen accessory is an antique, but not in my house.
We have been using one since our first day of marriage.
Oh, we would have gladly used an electric coffee maker if someone would have given us one for a wedding gift. But fundamentalist Baptists don’t give practical wedding gifts. They give things you will never use.
For example: Serving plates shaped like the Crown of Thorns.
So I had to steal a Corningware percolator from my mother’s cabinet on my wedding day. I’m not proud of this, but she had three of them in her kitchen.
And while we’re talking about kitchens, I also miss the era of kitchen phones. Do you know how long it’s been since I used a rotary phone? A long time.
I realize that kids who were raised on cellphones might not know what rotary phones are, but they are missing out. The wall-mounted kitchen phone was an important device in my personal childhood, and the world changed when we lost them.
Before the age of smartphones, there was only one way to talk to the opposite sex after school hours. You had to physically walk into your mother’s kitchen, dial a telephone number in front of God and country, and endure Twenty Questions from your mother.
“What’re you doing?” your mother would ask, using the same tone she used when she suspected babies of having full diapers. “Are we calling a special someone?”
And it got worse.
You knew that after you dialed the number the girl’s father would answer first. Her father was a man who worked at the mill, who shaved his back with a dull axe blade, who weighed more than a Chevy Impala, who was a decorated war hero with battleship tattoos on his forearms.
This man would answer the phone with a voice ravaged by testosterone and he would say, “Who’s speaking?”
Today, people wouldn’t say, “Who’s speaking?” because we are a civilized nation. But back then, everyone’s father said this. And you, as a respectful gentleman, were expected to—I’m nervous just talking about this—state your full name.
Once you identified yourself, this father would shout for his daughter and in seconds her voice would come over the phone. But your cover was already blown, by now her entire household knew she was talking to a boy.
Therefore you knew that her older brother, Eric, was listening from another phone with his little toadies nearby, and at some point during your private conversation Eric would probably pass gas over the receiver and laugh with his pals until he incurred serious injuries by the hands of his sister.
So I miss rotary kitchen phones. Just like I miss Mason jars, men in tweed hats, and the smell of pipe tobacco.
And old-fashioned games that did not rely on technology. Like backgammon, chess, gin rummy, or checkers. Or the way we used to play Spin the Bottle behind the church during Baptist picnics, which is where I first kissed Anne Lee Barry.
Anne Lee was two feet taller than most boys and stronger than anyone on the jayvee football team. When it was her turn to spin the Coca-Cola bottle, all my pals leapt away from the circle and left me standing there. The bottle landed on me and there was nowhere to run.
Anne Lee spit out her gum and said, “Come to Mama, sailor.”
There are a lot of things that disappeared with the old world. And even though they’re gone, you don’t forget the little things you held dear.
You can’t forget the sleepovers at Charlie Danielson’s house, when the boys would sneak out to go fishing after dark. You were giddy back then because you were young, and energetic, and so happy.
After fishing, you and the fellas would sing while riding bikes back to Charlie’s place. You would crawl into sleeping bags then tease Charlie about Meredith Weems until he called her on his kitchen phone at midnight.
And when Charlie finally called her, you boys laughed until your ruined your pajama bottoms.
Somehow, you fell asleep that night, but you don’t know how. The next morning, you awoke to a blood curdling scream when Charlie’s mother found four dead largemouth bass in her refrigerator.
But this didn’t stop her from making a huge breakfast. Mothers did that back then. And she didn’t make tofu, or egg whites, or meatless sausage patties with low trans fats. She made bacon, pancakes, and real orange juice. And when Charlie’s mother asked if you wanted coffee, it was a rite of passage, so you answered:
She poured it from a percolator. White. Corningware. And you were no longer boys in that kitchen, you were grown men. And you promised yourselves that you’d never let this world change you, but that you would remain just as sincere as you were in that exact moment. And you only hoped that you were man enough to keep your promise.
Anyway, that’s why I miss those old percolators.