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Slices of Life: Do you know where your toaster is?
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We keep our toaster in the cupboard. Early in our marriage, this was a point of contention. My husband grew up in a home where the toaster sat on the counter. My family housed the breakfast appliance in the cupboard. As newlyweds, each of us was comfortable and happy with our own location of origin. But we couldn't have it both ways - unless we got two toasters or a divorce and neither of those seemed like a viable option.

One of us would have to compromise.

With this issue, I managed to talk him over to my side. But over the years I've acquiesced a time or two in his direction. Marriage is a partnership. And cooperation. And changing where you keep your toaster or how you fold your socks. And change is hardly ever easy.

But this isn't about marriage. It's about toasters. Toaster location, to be exact.

You might be surprised that there are actual articles written about the location of one's toaster. I was surprised. Bloggers are blogging about toasters and people like me are Googling those blogs.

The chatter is mostly about cleanliness and decluttering one's kitchen. One might think a person who stores their toaster in the cupboard is neater than one who leaves it on the counter.

I don't think this is the case.

I stumbled on this concept last week while eating a piece of toast and thereafter putting the toaster away. As I did, I noted the appliance was a crumb-laden, scorch-filled mess - far from what I'd call neat. The cupboard wasn't much better. It, too, was littered with crumbs. Each time someone puts the toaster in the cupboard a few crumbs fall out the bottom, accumulating over time.

We don't notice, really, because the toaster sits atop the crumbs and the cupboard door shuts and our mess is out of sight, out of mind.

If I kept my toaster on the counter, I wouldn't be able to ignore a pileup of crumbs. I'd probably wipe them away every morning after breakfast. I'd be more cognizant of the appearance of my toaster and more prone to give it a quick swipe with a soapy dishcloth or paper towel.

People who keep their toasters (and myriad other household objects) in the cupboard might appear decluttered, but they may be a whole lot messier than someone with an overloaded countertop.

Just because you can't see someone's toast crumbs doesn't mean they aren't there.

I said this column was about toasters. I guess I lied.

It's about life and crumbs and what we do with them - because we all have crumbs and splotches on our stainless and scorched spots where we'd rather not be scorched. We all wrestle with real issues and problems and wonder if our efforts are enough or if we should be trying harder. We worry and ruminate about the metaphorical crumbs in our life that won't even be a metaphorical blip on our radar in a year, much less five. We get tired sometimes. We all struggle with how to keep our toasters and cupboards and counters squeaky clean - or at least have them appear that way to others.

This makes me sigh.

Let's just say I have crumbs, and I know you do too. But crumbs are inconsequential. They aren't important in the big scheme. I won't point yours out if you'll return the favor. I'd love it if we could agree to embrace our collective crumbs and get on with the much more important business of living.

Now on to tackling the issue of how to fold socks ...

- Jill Pertler's column appears Thursdays in the Times. She can be reached at