Mr. Scale Goes
to the Dump!
From Radiance Summer 1992
My husband, Bob, came home one night and presented me with the gift of a lifetime. It wasn't a gift he had shopped for himself. It had been given to him as an award from his company for being the person who had found the most computer bugs in a twenty-four-hour period. Or maybe he had found the cure for a computer virus. Something like that. Anyway, he came in beaming like Porsche headlights.
"Look what I have for you, sweetheart," he said. Visions of jewelry, of a Neiman-Marcus gift certificate, of that $60 perfume I'd been wanting flew through my mind. But the box was too big.
I could hardly wait. I tore the wrapping off like a frenzied child at Christmas and, behold, comfortably resting on a bed of tissue paper was a bathroom scale. "It talks," Bob announced.
"It tells you when to get on, it says 'Good-bye' or 'Have a nice day' (your choice), it tells you how much weight you've gained or lost, and it weighs you in either kilograms or pounds. It even tells you when its batteries are low!"
I smiled with as much enthusiasm as I could dredge up from the pit of my despairing soul. I was truly underwhelmed! "Thank you, honey. How thoughtful of you," I said. "It's just what I've always wanted. We haven't had a scale in years, have we?"
Of course we hadn't had a scale in years. I had tried to teach our old model how to swim in the backyard pool. When it hadn't stayed afloat, I had retrieved it from its watery grave (heaven forbid one of the children should have found it and, with childish compassion, tried to resuscitate it) and had given it a proper burial in the dumpster behind the local supermarket.
Of course this was something I had always wanted. Any sensitive woman who is "overweight" yearns for a scale that announces to the immediate world in a loud male voice how much she weighs. I could hardly contain myself.
"Try it out," Bob said, heading for the kitchen junk drawer, where goodies like batteries were kept.
"Please, God," I prayed, "don't let there be any double As in there."
"Darn!" I heard from the kitchen. "We only have six and it takes eight."
"Thank you, God," I whispered, "you do love me!"
"Oh, wait," came the voice from the kitchen, "there are a couple in the Walkman."
There is no God, I thought.
Returning with batteries in hand, my husband, the technical whiz, delicately removed the cover from Mr. Scale's underbelly and inserted the eight batteries. "Step on!" he urged me.
"Dressed or undressed?" I asked.
"What's the difference?" he said.
"What's the difference?" I asked, as I pulled off shoes, socks, earrings, wedding ring, and bobby pins.
"Go ahead, get on."
"Just a minute. I've got to tinkle first." Water weight, you know.
"Okay, but hurry."
"Hey," I said, "if you're so anxious to try it out, why don't you get on?"
"Me?" he replied. "What for? I brought it home for you, and besides, I got weighed when I had my last physical."
"Yeah, but that was five years ago."
"Just hurry up."
I went into the bathroom, and while offering my three drops to the porcelain goddess, I tried to think of ways that I could spend the remainder of the evening sitting on the throne. Maybe if I stayed sequestered long enough, Bob would tire of waiting and turn on the television. Maybe he would get an emergency call from the hospital to perform life-or-death heart surgery. The fact that he wasn't a doctor only dashed my hopes a little. Maybe this was exactly the right moment to finish the last four hundred pages of War and Peace (the Russian version, of course).
No, after twelve years of marriage, Bob probably knew that I didn't speak Russian. Obviously, my last and only option was an overdose of pills. They'd have to rush me to the hospital and pump my stomach, and that should be good for at least five pounds. Mentally, I ransacked the contents of the medicine cabinet. Vick's VapoRub, shaving cream, styptic pencil, mouthwash, an empty box of sinus relief tablets, and a lone penicillin capsule that had expired in July 1983.
Forget the pills, I thought. I'll slash my wrists instead. Enough blood loss, and I could be 115 pounds in a matter of hours.
As I debated the implications of slashing my wrists with an electric razor, Bob knocked on the door and yelled, "Hey, you fall in?"
"No, it just takes a while to plan a suicide."
"Nothing. I'll be right out." I opened the door, and there was Bob, scale in hand.
"I thought we'd better set this baby on the tile," Bob said. "The directions say it won't weigh correctly on the carpet."
"I knew that." Actually, that was one of my favorite places to weigh myself. The last time I had weighed myself with the scale on the carpet, it had said I weighed a lean, mean 36 pounds.
He set the scale down and asked, "Which number do you want?" "Oh, 105 would be nice," I said hopefully.
"No, no. Which scale number do you want? You get your own number from 1 to 6. You could use Guest, but Guest doesn't have a memory."
"Okay, okay. 3. Give me 3. It's my lucky number."
"All right. Push the button labeled On with your big toe and wait for directions."
"Wait," I whispered, "I think I hear the baby crying."
"Baby?" he said, looking at me questioningly. "We don't have a baby."
"Of course we have a baby. What do you call Bridgette?"
"Bridgette's at the hockey game with her boyfriend. I don't think seventeen is an unreasonable age for her to date, do you?"
"I guess not."
The light finally dawned.
"You're stalling, aren't you? You don't want to get on. You don't like this scale, do you?"
"Don't be silly! I love it. I can hardly wait to try it out."
I squared my shoulders, combed my hair, and mustered my resolve. I pushed the On button with my big toe and waited. I swear that scale cleared its throat.
"Enter your memory number!" the man's voice demanded with perfect diction, but no emotion. The very tone of his voice assured me that this man in the box was indeed heartless.
I pushed button number 3.
"Please step on the scale!" commanded the voice. I did.
A pregnant pause.
Then, with great clarity, the voice boomed, "I do not weigh livestock. Have a nice day!" What gall.
I stepped off, and my ego took a spontaneous trip to Siberia.
The taste of revenge was sweet on my tongue as I smiled demurely. "You try it now, sweetheart." "Fine, no problem," Bob said, as he removed his shoes, socks, wallet, belt, and contact lenses. "I'll take number 4."
He pushed the On button, followed the command to enter his memory number, stepped on the scale, and listened calmly as the now familiar voice loudly intoned, "Will you please get off of me? Have a nice day!"
We looked at each other.
"Let's teach it to skydive," Bob suggested. "On second thought, if the poor thing doesn't land just right, we'll have to give it a proper burial. I bet you know where there's a good dumpster."
"Okay," I said. "You grab the scale, I'll drive."
�SUZANNE CONE is a genre-jumping freelance writer in Fresno, California.
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