You may recall the story of how my 10-year-old smoked up the interior of our microwave oven — and our entire house — by trying to cook microwave noodles without putting any water in. (If you missed it, here it is.) Tomorrow marks the one-month anniversary of our near-Hindenburg, and during that month, we’ve made concerted and repeated efforts to get the microwave oven to stop reeking.
My wife cleaned it out.
I cleaned it out.
Then my wife moved it outside and left the door open, trying to air it out.
Then she tried various remedies found on the internet: microwaving lemon juice, or bleach, or who-knows-what. All while the microwave oven remained outside.
During the holidays, she’s left the Chernobyl oven outside, on a table in our carport, in what she’s taken to calling “the microwave annex.” It’s there that she and our three kids and her parents, who are visiting, have had to troop with various things to cook or reheat. (Me, I’ve relearned how to use a pot and a burner.)
Yesterday, I asked our eldest, Lex, who is 21 and visiting from Hawaii, to make another attempt. “Really scrub it out — again — then look on the Internet and try those solutions, and if none of that works, I’ll give up.” Because even though a new microwave oven will cost only about $109 (or $80 in a sale at our nearby Fry’s), I just haven’t been able to bring myself to agree to buy one, because this one works. There’s nothing wrong with it. Except the brimstone-like smell of it venting.
Late last night, he texted me: “No luck with the microwave. Clean now, still smells though.” Much as that comma splice made me wince (and he’s teaching 8th grade!), I was ready to relent.
Then I stopped home for lunch today and saw the microwave oven back inside. I opened the door to reheat a turkey wing, braced for the worst, and noticed… nothing.
“Hey!” I said. “It doesn’t stink! It smells clean! What did you guys do?”
Inside the microwave oven, I found a tub of baking soda. Evidently this final trick, atop all the others, was the compound solution we’d needed. I was delighted.
I put the turkey wing in, covered it with a microwave-oven covering plate, and pressed the buttons to heat for two minutes at 50% power. Except I couldn’t read the readout. I tried it again. No readout. I heated up the turkey wing successfully, but the readout was dead. Blammo. No indication of anything. When I pointed it out, Lex said, “Oh, I guess the readout finally died. It was burning out.”
So I texted my wife to tell her to buy a new microwave oven. (I also texted, “Whatever you decide, bear in mind Crist’s Law.” Crist’s Law, for the uninformed, is this: “If you’re going to buy one, buy a good one.”)
If I believed in fate, then I would believe we were fated to get a new microwave oven now, no matter what personal action we took. But I don’t believe in fate.