I can’t find my toaster. Where could it be? Frantically, I open cupboards, convinced that a ghost is teasing me. I believe in ghosts. I believe in spirits. I believe in the unknown.
I open the fridge to get some yogurt, and there is my toaster. I stand here feeling panic. What’s worse, the toaster is carefully placed in the back of the refrigerator, hidden behind several bottles of water.
I think about the ongoing ad on television warning about the signs of Alzheimer’s: a husband finds his wife’s keys in the microwave. “Tch, tch, tch, poor baby,” the husband murmurs, while the wife looks confused. As if men never get confused.
I call my author friend Marsha. I confide to her about the toaster.
“Honey, watch it. If it happens again, go to a neurologist,” she advises.
“I’m working on a new novel. I have a lot on my mind,“ I say.
Next, I call my daughter and tell her that I put the toaster in the fridge. “I must have been sleepwalking,” I say, laughing nervously.
“Mom,” croons Bonny. “You’re almost 78. Things happen.’’
“So what does age have to do with it?”
“Everything!” she snaps. “You’re on the end spectrum of your life.’’
“Who knows what’s an end? George Bush Sr. jumped out of an airplane at 95!”
“What, are you going to jump out of an airplane now? “
I’ve had it with everyone hocking about age. So what if I put the toaster into the fridge? It’s time to do things and not worry about the friggin’ toaster. I survived cancer, the publishing business, Hollywood, louses, so what’s a toaster anyway?
I call my best friend Judy Cohen. We went to Lowell together, and we have a bucket list and try to do interesting things with our boomer-hottie friends. We make plans with two of our friends to go to the de Young museum and see the show on modernism, and then have lunch at Original Joe’s in North Beach.
At the museum, we cluster in a group. and look at the paintings by Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. The girls whisper about the art — what artists they like, whose works they have bought and given to their kids. I love being with the girls. They’re 70-ish, sharp, chic and fun.
Afterward, we go to lunch. Over Bloody Marys, I confide to them about the toaster in the fridge.
“Honey, it’s a sign.’’ Idele looks at me sympathetically. She’s pretty, with dark eyes and dark short hair.
“A sign of what?” I snap.
“A sign that she has a lot on her mind.’’ Judy has silver stylish hair. She wears a shocking pink sweater.
“At our age, we’re losing our minds,” Debbie says. She wears a chic kimono over jeans, and arty jewelry. She’s 71.
They start talking about the end of life, burials, cemetery plots, AARP specials. Really depressing. I guzzle my drink and ask for more vodka.
“I went to Colma to the Jewish cemetery and picked out my plot,” Idele says, “but I changed it. I don’t like the view. Also I didn’t like the yenta who is buried next me. It wasn’t working for me!’’
“You won’t know the difference,” I say, polishing off my Bloody Mary. “I’m going to be cremated.’’
“You better go to Sinai and pick out your urn, or you’ll end up in a paper bag,’’ Judy says, laughing. She has the best laugh.
“My kid would drop my ashes with the cat litter,” Idele insists. “I want to see where I’m going to be buried.’’
“I don’t want a fancy urn,” I say.
“You’ll end up in a paper bag. Oy.” Debbie looks reflective.
“I told the kids to throw the ashes on a field of flowers.”
“Which means the garbage with the cat litter.’’
“Why are we talking about burials? “I protest, biting into my hamburger.
“Trust me,“ Debbie says. “Your toaster in the fridge is a warning that the time is near.’’
“Hogwash! I lose keys, remotes, eyeglasses.”
I gobble my fries as they get up from the table — losing their balance and wobbling — and continue to talk about burials and how the “party is over.”
Who cares about toasters in refrigerators or remotes in microwaves? This moment with the girls is glorious. Living is glorious. Anyway, I believe that there is no such thing as age.
To remind myself that sometimes I forget things, I wear a huge beaded wristband. A large note is pasted on my refrigerator: Do Not Place Toaster in Fridge.
A month later, I forget about the toaster. I am riding on a motorcycle ride in the hills, Frank Sinatra is singing ”Strangers in the Night” and life is incredible …
Barbara Rose Brooker is an S.F. native and the author of “The Viagra Diaries” and “Should I Sleep in His Dead Wife’s Bed?” Her new novel, “The Rise and Fall of a Jewish American Princess,” will be released in the fall. www.barbararosebrooker.com