Ode to the Microwave

A radiating relationship

by Grace Geracioti

I worry about getting too close to you because you might cause radiation, but the Time Cook button is fading, so I think it’s too late. It’s not like I care; a little radiation for a lot of meals is a fine trade-off in my book, or my Microwave Instruction Manual.  My brother and I spent most school nights with you and the oven got jealous. I could sense your scornful silence when Mom had time to labor over delicious meals. You knew we’d run back to you sooner or later, though, to reheat the leftovers or warm the packaged meals stacked in the fridge. 

I like fresh locally grown food with kale and quinoa but, Microwave, I love you more. And besides, Trader Joe’s has organic microwavable kale and quinoa meals. 

Pizza, burritos, salmon, fried rice with vegetables, macaroni and cheese, pad thai, linguini with clam sauce—you and Trader Joe’s microwavable meals work so well together. Each beep calls me to you, my mouth watering like a dog's and my fingers ready to press gently, but with confidence, those four little letters that spell “open.” 

Microwave cook directions: Peel back corner of wrapping. Cook on lowest power for four minutes. Let cool, then enjoy.

But with you it’s so much more than that. It’s 8 p.m. on a Tuesday and I come home from dance rehearsal, exhausted and scrounging for food. I open the refrigerator to find the Thai food I ordered on Friday night. I put you to work and beep, my dreams come true. I stick in the heating pad for my sorry old body and once again comes the beep—full of hope. 

The whole house smells like Pad Thai. It is cool enough to eat and I am ready to relax in microwaveable comfort.

Together, we’ve pushed the limits of technology by microwaving the ceramic bowls and mugs that read “DO NOT MICROWAVE.” One order of Chinese food can last a month with you (even though I recently heard you’re not supposed to microwave rice). We came out unharmed though, didn’t we?

Earth-loving hippies can watch us in disgust while they make a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian dinner using all vegetables from their garden, which I’m sure will taste great, but so does a microwaved meal.

Only you could make the whole house smell like burnt popcorn in minutes. If we’re in Dad’s apartment, one minute will do it and the whole place will be flooded with smoke. We’ll have to open all the windows and the door so we don’t trigger the alarm or set off the sprinklers for the whole building and the popcorn looks and tastes like charcoal but that’s OK because it’s a reminder of your immense power, dear Microwave.  And that wasn’t even on the highest setting. 

Instead of spending 20 minutes trying to convince my brother that he absolutely loves sushi so that we can order from the Japanese take-out place, we could spend five minutes digging through the cavernous freezer to find meals—I might settle on chicken egg rolls and fried rice while my brother might choose a quesadilla. You have encouraged many civilized, talkative, parentless meals between my brother and me.  If only you did dishes, too.

When it’s 8 p.m. and I’m home from a long day, I will fly to thee with an empty stomach and no time to waste. A high school experience without you is a high school experience unimaginable.

They don’t really like you in Europe so I might have to reconsider my study abroad plans. I’ve been meaning to try leftover microwaved crumpets and schnitzel, though.  Unfortunately, the options on the Sears International website are scarce. I wonder if you’ll get through airport security, let alone fit in my 23 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm carry-on.  

We’ve been on a long break since a college meal plan entered my life.  But I resorted to your warmth last week. The dining hall was closed and things felt right again.