It actually began last week when CatMan and I had movie night and I noticed that the popcorn tasted a bit "off."
Upon closer inspection I figured out that my wonderful stove top popcorn popper had developed a decidedly rancid smell, and this was apparently being transferred to the popcorn. Lovely.
In theory, stove top poppers can just be washed in hot soapy water, but apparently this has not been enough to counteract the years of oily buildup that has well... built up! I have tried putting it in the dishwasher in the past, but the wooden handle cracked, and to make matters worse, the lid used to have a plastic window which broke eons ago, so I had cobbled together a patch, but it was flimsy and was also catching a lot of oil and debris.
To make a long story short, I spent an entire day scrubbing and trying to craft a better repair - during which time I tore several fingernails down to the quick and cut a huge gash in my finger. I finally got it back to acceptable status, but I was frustrated, I was in pain, I was angry, and I could see the entire scenario repeating itself in a few months when the rancid oil started to build up again.
At that point I did a bad thing. I went online and searched for "dishwasher safe stove top popcorn popper" and this appeared:
Stainless steel construction with a tempered glass lid, a silicone plug for dumping in the kernels, a "direct drive" paddle with no gears to break, and best of all... dishwasher safe! It was $89, but I figured it would be an "investment piece" because we do make 2-3 batches of popcorn a week. Plus... no aluminum, no plastic, no toxins... what could go wrong?
Soooo... in a moment of frustration induced weakness, I whipped out my credit card and yesterday it arrived on my doorstep.
I was so excited that I got it out, set it up and made a batch of popcorn to try it out. I took one bite and... OH NOOOO!!!! Chewy popcorn!
Now... I don't know if any of you are true popcorn connoisseurs, but in CatMan's world, chewy popcorn is a crime against humanity. It didn't take me long to figure out what the problem was... the lid seals pretty snugly against the edges and only had three tiny vent holes for the steam to escape. Inadequate ventilation will give you chewy popcorn every time.
But I spent hours reading the reviews, and not a single person mentioned this problem. How could this be? Did I really just drop $90 on something that isn't even gonna work?!?
Things sorta went downhill from there.
First of all, Princess seems to have gotten wise to my current fluid-giving arrangement, and has once again turned into "snarling beast" whenever I set her down in "the chair."
I love her to death, but I was getting pretty frazzled by her attempts to chew my fingers off, so I decided to take a break and go pick up my new eyeglasses. Yes, folks - presbyopia has struck and I finally gave in and ordered bifocals... but since I know a lot of people have trouble with them I also ordered separate reading and distance glasses too, you know, just to cover all of my bases. Again... what could go wrong?
Well... I pick the suckers up, put on the bifocals and can't see a thing. No surprise there, it will take time. But the reading glasses worked great, and when I put on the distance glasses I happily drive home reading every street sign clearly for the first time in years.
Of course when I got home I sat down at the computer and promptly discovered that I couldn't see a damn thing! I also looked closer at the bifocals and determined that part of the problem is that the line is a quarter inch higher on one lens than the other! No wonder I can't see.
I'm gonna have to take the bifocals back, but that won't solve the computer problem, so in another fit of pissed-off frustration I ended up ordering several more pairs - one specifically for computer distance and a pair of progressive bifocals to see if I can make those work any better - not holding my breath.
Good Lord! How many pairs of glasses is it gonna take to be able to see?
Of course the fun doesn't stop there. On the way home from the optical place I decided to stop at the thrift store to see if I could find something I could use as a portable stand for hanging Princess' fluids so I can easily change up the system when she gets wise to one spot or another.
So I stumbled around the store blindly (I was trying out the bifocals) and while I was there... I happened upon a brand spankin' new Whirley Pop popper!
It's aluminum with a wooden handle, so it still can't go in the dishwasher, but at least it should be a little easier to clean because it has a functional lid with no crazy repairs to deal with. That'll solve the problem, right?
Of course, there's no guarantee the Whirley Pop won't make chewy popcorn too. But you know what they say... in for a penny, in for a pound - or in this case $3.99. Good Gawd!
And to put the topper on my lousy day, as I was checking out at the thrift store, the fellow asked me if I wanted my "senior discount!" What?!? I mean, I do have a birthday coming up, but I've still got a few years to go before I hit 50. It must have been the damned bifocals.
Lordy! A room full of popcorn poppers and a grocery sack full of eyeglasses and I still haven't solved either problem yet!
So what's the point of this long whiny story other than to bitch about my bad day? I guess it just points out one of the cornerstone lies upon which our consumerist society is built. There is this myth out there (one that the giant marketing machine LOVES to promote) that says something like this: If you're just willing to "spend the money" all of your problems can be solved.
Feel Ugly? Buy some makeup!
Too Fat? Buy a gym membership!
Not Cool Enough? Buy a sportscar!
Feel Dorky? Buy Some New Clothes!
Stessed Out? Treat yourself to an expensive vacation!
You Bought Too Much Crap? Buy a Bigger House!
And on... and on... and on...
But here's the thing... it's all just a big fat LIE!
In fact, more often than not, the more money you spend, the more problems you end up with!
Like say... a house full of popcorn poppers and eyeglasses!
Seriously though... you really can't just expect to throw money at problems and make them go away - solving problems requires creative thinking and actual work. One would think that a person like myself would know this by now, but apparently some of us are just slow learners...
I'm still not sure how to resolve either situation - but I think a good start would be to step back, take a deep breath and stop throwing money at it. Life will go on, even without the "perfect" popcorn popper, and I'm certainly not the only person who's ever had to deal with aging eyesight.
It just all makes me so darned mad... why can't things just work the way they're "supposed to?" Guess I'm not the first person to ask that question either!
So tell me... how do you deal with things when you hit "frustration overload?" Do you ever fall victim to trying to buy your way out of it?