What do men find so fascinating about toast being made? I admit it. I’m a man and I, like others of my gender, am spellbound by the utter stationary madness of a member of the bread family being heated until brown by red-hot metal strings. The toasting process involves just two dynamic acts: pushing the toast down, and the toast popping up when the toaster is good and ready to do so.
It is the period between pushing down and popping up that appear to capture the total attention of Y-chromosomal beings. Nowhere is this more apparent than at a hotel breakfast buffet or company cafeteria. Today, for example, a gentleman roughly the size of Nantucket Island quietly lowered two slices of whole wheat into the toaster, then planted himself in front of it with his Neptune-sized noggin’ and its nose and eyes bowed over the appliance close enough to also toast his flesh and liquify his retinas. Unfortunately, the display of not yet toasted breads was positioned above the toaster, meaning this oversized parcel of protoplasm posed an insurmountable obstacle for those hoping to grab a couple of slices to toast.
I attempted to lunge through the small space to his left that afforded me a slim shot at a bran muffin. I even tried a half-hearted, “excuse me” in hopes he’d break his deathstare into the bread-burning abyss to take a half a step to his right, but the spell was just too great.
By now the line behind him was growing with three more men desiring hot, browned bread waiting impatiently for their opportunity to remove themselves from the immediate world for four minutes as they slip into the trance provided by heat rising from their scorched rye.
Undaunted, I muttered in a stage whisper, “asshole!” which seemed to strike a chord, or at least a moment of self-awareness, causing the Human Haystack to break concentration just long enough for me to make my move and capture the muffin of my desire and quickly head for the cashier to make my escape.
But before I could get through the door, I heard the telltale “pop” of the beast’s bread emerging from the toaster. Unable to turn away I witnessed a grown man gently grab the wooden tongs, use them to extract his slices and place them on a styrofoam plate and put on a smile generally generated by an especially effective honeymoon or well-made muscatel. The other men waiting their turns eyed him with a combination of jealousy and respect, but knowing they were only a few four-minute cycles from their own crisp crust climax.