My mom and I were talking recently about some fairly meaningless things and she said, “I have lots of categories where I feel like people fall on one side or another. One of the categories I have is. . . ”
Because of what we’d been talking about, I knew exactly what she was going to say: “People who use toaster ovens and people who don’t.”
My family falls decidedly on the “people who don’t” side of the toaster oven category. My parents have never owned one and I remember vividly the first time I saw one when we stayed in a condo in California when I was around 11 or 12 (and I had to ask what it was).
And then, when Bart and I were registering before our wedding, he said, “I’d like to register for a toaster oven.” I would never even CONSIDERED registering for one; I hardly even knew what you might use it for. Did we eat enough bagels to justify having one? Did it do anything besides that? Wasn’t that what a TOASTER was for?
One of Bart’s uncles and aunts kindly bought it for us and Bart declared, several times, that it was his very. favorite. gift. A toaster oven! I was floored.
And then our first apartment had what was possibly the world’s worst oven. The very first thing I tried to cook was banana bread and it rose VERY fast and then spilled all over the floor of the oven and never cooked through. (There were tears). Out came the toaster oven and I used it exclusively the whole time we lived there as a regular oven. And then in Texas, we kept it on the counter because I could either use TWO ovens at the same time or I could avoid turning on the regular oven and making the kitchen approximately the same temperature as Hades. I was suddenly a “person who uses a toaster oven.”
Since this conversation, I’ve thought a lot about the categories I mentally note but have never really consciously thought about: People who chew gum and people who don’t. People who listen to the radio and people who don’t. People who go barefoot when possible and people who don’t. These categories aren’t in judgemental ways – more just a way to keep track of people. An “oh, yes, she knows something about cooking because she is a ‘person who makes dinner on a regular basis.'”
I have amused myself all week thinking of the many many categories I have for all different areas of life. Maybe there is a “People who categorize others and people who don’t” category. If so, I’m on the “People who do” side.