It's not about the house.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Now, We’re Cooking With Gas

We had a stove when we moved in here. Technically. Technically, we did indeed have a stove. The inspector we hired to tell us that the house was falling down before we bought it, he did warn us that the appliance wasn’t any good. He even wrote it on the big pink slip and everything. But we’d been renting our entire adult lives. Neither of us had ever experienced a brand-new stove. We thought we knew from useless. We did not.

All we really understood was that this thing was 24” wide and electric – and, according to Johnny, neither of those things would ever do. If we were going to replace it, we needed another half a foot, and gas. But our top priority back then was to get the slime mold cleared from the back room.

Perhaps the first hint should have been the fuse. The first hint that this so-called “stove” was not only, in fact, generally ineffectual at anything resembling its intended purpose, but that it also should never, under any circumstances, be put to such marginal use as it was capable of mustering.

Now, when I say “fuse,” what I mean is breaker box. I wouldn’t say the house had been rewired – there is still knob-and-tube in places here and there – but there was (and is) a modern-type box down in the basement. The kind with the black switches that you just go down and throw. And, with nineteen breaker switches available, the entire house was hooked up to one of them, the stove all by its lonesome on another. Not only that, but the stove one was labeled: “This switch stays off to insure that Rita doesn’t hurt herself.”

It said “insure.” For days that bothered me more than the stove itself did. Then we moved in, and I moved on.

I’d assumed Rita was going to hurt herself by touching a glowing coil, or by leaving a pot on until it boiled empty and started shooting off hot metal sparks. But no. It seemed the only way Rita could have hurt herself on this stove would have been to lick it, which does not require electricity at all.

Corroded, rusted, caked with years of burnt-on food, this little GE gem could not have brought good things to life without Herr Frankenstein, a certain carpenter from Galilee, and the Piemaker, all working their mojo on its behalf. We didn’t realize this, of course, until after we’d scrubbed it up as best we could with the breaker off. Then we marched downstairs and ceremoniously threw the switch.

The first burner we tried did not come on. We did the whole marching-and-throwing thing again. Still no. After a few more parades up and down with all of the requisite stomping and swearing (most of that from me) one of us (probably Johnny) finally hit upon the idea of moving the oven’s single knob around to test out all the dials. A brilliant thought! Eureka! We had heat!

From a single burner.

One of the little ones.

And that was it.

Our so-called “stove” was nothing more than a glorified, tetanus-y, hotplate. The inside “oven” part, after all the scrubbing and scraping and lockjaw-risking I had done, never did get any juice at all.

Well, not until it almost burned the house down.

12 comments: said...

OK, great post. Clap! Clap! Clap!

I converted from electric to 'gas' about a month ago. I did NOT need to call a plumber. You don't need a plumber. Call your local propane place --- they do it. It cost me $120 for the propane dude to convert my new "gas" unit to "country gas" aka propane and another $120 for a full tank of propane. Now we cook over FIRE.

EGE said...

Do you know, we have since converted to gas -- I'm getting there, slowly but surely -- but I DID go to my local propane place, just about at the time I've reached at the end of this here post, and they acted like I was mad. Like they'd never HEARD of anyone hooking up a kitchen stove to propane. So I assumed it wasn't possible, and the nightmare continued. Now, of course, I know it is. But christ, the PROPANE store -- I STOOD there, in FRONT of the guy, and ASKED him face to face. "Duh?" he said.

This is the kind of luck I'm dealing with, you see?

J Auclair said...

I don't know; you might want to reconsider revisiting these emotions. Entertaining for us, but...

Stephanie said...

Wow - It took my old roomie a fully functioning stove (and a pan of hot dogs - I nearly died due to hot dogs) to nearly burn down the place!

Good luck with the switch to gas! Way better than even fully-functioning electric any day.

theotherbear said...

Gee I am suddenly rather grateful for my old but working gas oven.

Vanessa said...

Great post, I hope you either A) had your tetanus shot or B) have natural immunity.

Enjoy the new stove!

su said...

Gas of any kind frightens me!

jen said...

I was sure that there would be a new stove at the end of this post. But there was not. But then I see you are giving spoilers. Drat.

jen said...

oooo. and. i should also say that the reason i fell in love with our house is the fact that it has a gas stove. and im lovin' every minute of it. somedays? i love that stove more than my husband.

EGE said...

Jen -- Johnny says he feels the same way. About his husband. (NO, says, Johnny! About my WIFE! My Stove! My -- argh!)

Johnny also asks me to say this to everyone:

"Thank you all for agreeing with me about the gas stove, because my lovely gorgeous beautiful wife never ever ever ever did. Ever. Love Johnny."

I may have added some adjectives in there, I forget. But he's lying about the never-ever. I like it now. And I will get to the point of how we got here, soon. I swear to god.

Nate and Jen said...

Knowing what you know now, would it have been so bad if the AssVac burned down? ;)

EGE said...

I still fantasize about it every day...