I have stick-straight hair, so, naturally, I curl it, using a curling iron. If the electricity ever went out for extended periods of time, I would become a stranger to friends and family.
Since I use the curling iron every day (sometimes more than once in a day), I regularly confront the existential question: Did I turn it off?
Before heading out to the store, hand on the garage doorknob: Did I turn off my curling iron or will it eventually burn down the house while I’m gone, leaving me to confront a smoking heap of ash when I return?
Or, two blocks from home: Did I turn it off and unplug it?
Or, staring at my husband over a candlelit restaurant table: Did I really turn it off? Really? Am I absolutely certain?
I’m sure anyone who’s used an iron, a stove, an oven, a coffeemaker or any other heat-producing appliance can relate. I’ve stopped backing out of the garage to go check on the curling iron’s status. I’ve turned around before leaving our development to come back and check on the curling iron. The curling iron must feel very loved with all the attention it gets.
And although 99.9 percent of the time, I did, in fact, turn off and unplug the thing, there is the occasional, very, very rare moment when I didn’t, which just affirms my obsessive need to double-check its status.
Over the years, I’ve tried to develop strategies to remember if I unplugged the thing.
I’ve looked at it and waved the plug in front of my face, thinking that visual image would surely stick in my mind.
Result: When the memory of that action comes back to me, I wonder, but was that just now or…yesterday?
I’ve stared at the plug and said out loud: “I unplugged the curling iron.”
Result: But was that just now or…yesterday?
I’ve stared at the plug and said out loud, using different accents: “Ja, ja, I unplugged ze curling iron, bien sure, n’est ce pas?”
Result: See above.
I’ve sung, in operatic tones: “I’ve unplugged the CURLING iron! It is in my hand, you see! Rodolfo! Alfredo! Siegfried! Ah! AH!”
Result: See above.
The curling iron unplugging. It is driving me crazy.
So here’s my latest tactic: I tell my husband I unplugged it. Then, you see, the responsibility is shared. I can ask him later, “Did I unplug the curling iron, dearest one?” And he can answer, “Yes, you told me you did, my sweet, and I carefully listen to every dulcet word that you utter.”
Or, more likely, “I dunno.”
But if my husband isn’t around, I still have to deal with this anxiety, which I have labeled Anxiety About Appliances’ Remaining Good and Hot. Or AAARGH, for short.
I am now going to start using a tip from my oldest son, who suffers from a similar affliction–remembering if he turned the heat back in his apartment before leaving.
He snaps a photo of his thermostat.
So, that’s what I’m going to do. Snap a photo with my phone of the unplugged curling iron.
If I can remember…