We called it the Irascible Teapot.
The cranberry-red teakettle my husband brought home from Target one day last year. It didn’t just whistle, it wailed off key, and squealed, and harrumphed, and mewed, and whimpered, and cajoled, and protested in the most endearing little eruptions of sound when you picked it up, or flipped back its metal lid, or set it again on the still-hot stove top.
We laughed out loud at the commentary–its crankiness so expressive, its personality so real and oddly comforting in the tradition of inanimate objects come alive a la Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Then, I burned it up.
I didn’t mean to. I lit the flame, but apparently there wasn’t any water inside. I went upstairs, thinking my husband would surely hear it sound off. But, alas, I came downstairs to the smell of something burning and crackling noises, and the teapot had gone from red to brown. I turned off the burner and called out to my husband. Then, we went into mourning.
It was like we had lost a quirky pet. So the next day, still bereft, I ran out to Target. There were none on the shelf. But there was one floor model. I explained to a ‘Target associate’ that I wanted to buy it. He called a manager. “Not without a box.” So I went home and found we still had the old teapot box. Another manager: “No we can’t sell you the display. It might not work.”
“I don’t care, I’ll take my chances. I’ll pay full price,” I pleaded.
“Sorry, company policy,” the manager said.
“How about this nice Kitchen Aid tea kettle . . .” offered the sheepish sales associate.
So we tried online at Copco’s website. Our model had been discontinued! (Maybe other users weren’t so entertained by its behavior.) We bought another, but it made no cute noises. I became obsessed, the glimpse of that one display model so tantalizingly close. Then, on the verge of just stuffing it into the box and trying to buy it anyway, I hit the Target warehouse, explaining to yet another bemused sales associate: “You see, it made these funny little sounds that my family really liked and I burned it up by mistake . .
Finally, after a few more immovable managers and false starts (who knew Target Stores could be so obstinate about not selling a customer something she wants) I held the sought-after box in my hands at Customer Service.
I took our new teapot home, and we tried it out. It whistled with irascible glee. And so did we.