Unrequited Bromance

I went to Whole Foods on Sunday mostly to buy food but also to see Astrid.

I wanted to hang out with Cesar again, because he seemed cool and smart and I wanted to be his friend. But how do you go about saying that to another dude? I figured I would ask his girlfriend to set it up. But a weird thing happened when I brought it up.

I waited in her checkout line and when it was my turn, I said, “Hey, hope you had a good time at the party.”

She said, “Totally. It was so cool of you to invite all those people.”

I said, “I really liked your friend Cesar. He’s one funny dude.”

She said, “Yeah, I saw you guys talking.”

I tried to be nonchalant when I said, “We should hang out some time.”

Then she looked at me kind of weird. She said, “Like all three of us?”

I was like, “Sure. It could be a group thing. Or just me and him. Like guys night out or something. Either way.”

For some reason this didn’t come out right in her mind. She just looked at me.

So I said, “So can I get his info?”

Astrid said, “Why don’t you give me your info and I’ll pass it along to him.”

I was confused. Not sure how I made this weird but apparently I had. I just said, “Sure, whatever’s easier.” I wrote down my email on the receipt and gave it to her.

I walked out with my lemon chicken wondering what she thought I really wanted.

Frappe

Okay, so I’m obsessed with this guy Cesar. It’s like he’s given me the red pill and now I realize I’ve been living in the Matrix. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if you think your appliances are doing something smart only to learn that they’re really dumb, it kind of shakes your world.

The classic example is the blender. Someone figured out a long time ago that people would buy more blenders if they thought the blenders were smarter. So instead of power level 1-10 to indicate the actual function–changing the power (and hence the blade speed) from 10% to 100%–someone decided to name the settings:

1-Fold
2-Stir
3-Mix
4-Blend
5-Combine
6-Beat
7-Cream
8-Fluff
9-Frappe
10-Whip

Now of course these words are all synonyms more or less for the same basic thing and it’s actually far less accurate than power level 1-10, but lo and behold, as soon as they changed the name of the setting, they started selling more blenders. It all boils down to this: People just liked to think that their blenders “knew” what they were blending. And so an industry was born.

Here’s some appliance settings that I thought did something intelligent and here’s what Cesar says they really do:

Function What I thought it did What it really does
Sanitize/sterilize Filters out bacteria Uses hotter water
Defrost (microwave) Targets water molecules Lowers power level
Defrost (toaster) Heats from the inside out Lowers power, extends time
Recirculate air Purifies air and pumps it back out Closes outside vent
Large load Recalibrates weight sensors for even spin Lowers spin speed
Pots and pans Special jets target the bottom of the pot Wash cycle runs longer
Convection cook Turns on a cyclone Turns on a little fan
Reheat (toaster) Cooks from the inside out Turns power very low
Delicate Gently tumbles clothes Lowers temperature
Crystal/china Buffs and shines glasses and plates Lowers temperature

There are lots of other examples but I can’t write about them right now. I have to go frappe a smoothie with Cesar.

 

Post-Game Wrap-Up

First of all, the game was pretty exciting. I didn’t mind watching at all, though I couldn’t care less who won. No one at the party was a super-fan so we didn’t have any problems with guys in face-paint going berserk when some dude dropped the ball.

Twenty-two guests showed up. Scott, Gunther, Gordo, Polly, and some other obvious candidates, plus the dry cleaner Ramon and believe it or not, letter carrier Hung. The Whole Foods contingent came en masse, and the fun thing was, a lot of people brought a friend or two, so there were new people to meet.

One of the best things about the party was that it was such a weird mix of people that practically no one (besides me) knew more than a small percentage. So everyone was meeting a lot of new people. But hands down, my favorite new person is Astrid the check-out girl’s boyfriend Cesar. He works in marketing, but mostly for appliance manufacturers. His job is to “humanize” appliances by making boring features seem more intelligent. Example: He pointed to my toaster oven. It had a setting called, “Bagel.” He asked me, “What do you think that does?”

I had never really thought about it, but I did use it every time I want to toast a bagel. I said, “I don’t know, some kind of sensor makes the toaster heat penetrate a thicker dough of a bagel?”

He said, “That’s what I do. I make you think the toaster is smart. ‘Bagel’ setting increases the toast time by 10%. That’s it.”*

Turns out, there are only two things that are adjustable on the toast setting. Power and time. You can make the power go from 10% to 100% and you can adjust the time it toasts. That’s it. Putting a button on the front that says “Belgian Waffles” doesn’t change the fact that there’s only those two variables.

I love this guy.**

Anyway, the party was a big hit. Everyone had fun. It was good seeing Scott again. And Gunther even got along with his ex Monica. (I should have mentioned that things didn’t work out with 19-year-old aspiring TV personality Marta. It didn’t long. I think they broke up in December.) I’m not sure, but I think Gunther and Monica may have left together. So maybe if that’s back on, I can add matchmaker to my resume.

* Bagel setting also makes only the top element heat because it assumes you sliced your bagel and placed both sides face up, unlike the normal toast setting which toasts on both the upper and lower element simultaneously. But I already knew that part.

** I will post another entry about the rest of our conversation. I just love it when I learn something that never occurred to me but is so obvious when someone tells you.