Tuesday, January 27, 2009



A square piece of cardboard came off the inside of our microwave. It's only about 3 inches square and my first reaction was to just throw it away.

My wife looked inside the microwave and saw that the cardboard had been covering an opening. An ominous opening. An opening that you don't want to play with. She asked me to put the cardboard back. I couldn't figure out how to get it back on. I told her that it was okay. It didn't need to go back on. It's just cardboard.

Having grown up in communist Cuba for much of her childhood, my wife has a greater respect for cardboard than I do. In Cuba they made all kinds of stuff out of cardboard: boats, planes, car engines, surgical tools, statues, dictators.

Anyway, the little cardboard square would fall off and I'd put it on and it would fall off and I'd put it on...until last week. I just threw it out. It's cardboard. We've been using the microwave since then and it heats my tea up very nicely. Fine. 

Fearing the ominous opening that the cardboard had been covering, my wife contacted the manufacturer yesterday. She got on the phone with a customer service rep and explained that her husband is a putz and he couldn't get the cardboard back on and he didn't think it was important and...

There was a gasp on the other end of the phone. "HAVE YOU USED IT? HAVE YOU USED IT WITHOUT THE CARDBOARD? HAVE YOU? HAVE YOU? ANSWER ME!"

My wife said that, yes, we had been using the microwave without the cardboard because her husband (the putz) said it would be okay.

There was a SCREAM on the other end of the line. My wife heard a chair being pushed back in haste and then heavy footsteps running out of the room. A door opened. Then a shout. "I NEED PATTERSON! AND GET INTEC ON THE LINE! ROUTE ALL INCOMING CALLS TO CENTRAL! ALERT OLIVART, QUEEL, JENKINS AND KIRK! I'VE GOT A SITUATION!!!!!!!!"

A bunch of footsteps could be heard running into the room. A man's voice shouted, "What is it?" 

The woman's voice said, "They've used the microwave without the cardboard thingy!"


The woman's voice said, "Her husband is a putz."

The man then said, "Alright. Let me talk to her. Let me calm down first, though. Gimme a second. I don't want to frighten her. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! WHAT KIND OF HUSBAND WOULD LET THE FAMILY USE A MICROWAVE WITHOUT THE CARDBOARD THINGY! WHAT KIND OF BASTARD...AHHHHHHHHH! Okay. Okay. I'm okay. Let me talk to her."

He then came on the line. "Hello there. I'm Patterson. I'm going to get you through this. It's going to be okay. I'm here to help." My wife thinks she heard him cry as he said those last words.

He continued. "But first. I need to ask you some questions. Do you or anyone in your family have anything growing on you that wasn't there a few weeks ago?"

My wife asked him to clarify.

"Like a third leg...or a large boil that could be another head. It wouldn't have full features yet, but you could make out two eyes if you looked close."

My wife told him that we didn't.

He went on. "Do you or any member of your family feel as though they are being followed or are following someone?"

My wife said no.

"How many fingers am I holding up?"

My wife said she didn't know.

He seemed relieved. "Good. Excellent.ESP can sometimes be a symptom of the poisoning."

"The poisoning," my wife gasped!

"Mrs. Rugg," the man said. "I'm going to ask you to do something very unusual. But it's important. Can you do that for me? Can you do something unusual for me?"

My wife said she could.

"Good. Good. I want you to take you and your daughter outside. I want you to wrap yourselves in heavy duty alluminun foil. It must be heavy duty! IT HAS TO BE! Then, I want you both to stand in a bucket of distilled water and listen to Harry Belafonte songs. Not from when he's all raspy and throaty, the older stuff. Do that for 72 hours. It should dissipate any buildup."

"But what about my husband?" my wife asked.

"Do you really want to help HIM, Mrs. Rugg. Wouldn't it be best if he grew a second head? A walking testament to his vile and selfish putzyness?"

Thankfully, my wife is a kind and loving woman. 


  1. I once made a son-in-law out of cardboard, because my real son-in-law was a putz. The cardboard son-in-law was much better in every way than the real one, even though the cardboard came from a fish mart and smelled terrible. My real son-in-law didn't smell good either, even on family holidays when you think the guy woulda have showered just to appear fresh. But no! Stinky as the day is long, that one. I dunno what my Maribelle sees in that putz. Well, anyway if it weren't for cardboard I wouldn't have company on bingo nights at the village. So thank you for Bubbie's Fish Mart on West 3rd.

    Selma Drip
    Gloucester, NY

  2. I KNEW FIDEL CASTRO WAS MADE OF CARDBOARD! You're a genious! That's why we only ever see his mouth move! It's on a string! Oh haha! You clever Cubans!

    My husband, in a putz-like mannor, also underestimated the uses of cardboard once. He decided because he didn't understand how this large piece of cardboard could be useful to our brand new computer desk, that he would not only not nail it to the bottom of the pull out tray that held up the keyboard, but he would break it, so that no one in the future could ever use it, should they find a use for it. [wow that was a long sentence.] So needless to say, one day I'm typing at my computer when the whole tray falls POW! onto the floor. Unable to fix it without magical cardboard, I had to repeatedly place the tray back in it's proper position and pray that my cat wouldn't be under it the next time it plummeted.

  3. I would note that just yesterday, Smurfit-Stone, North America's largest maker of cardboard, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


  4. Wait... does that mean the Smurfs were made of cardboard? or just Stoner Smurf?

  5. Gentlepersons,

    The comment above is of no small importance, as Smurfit-Stone was the only paper product company with the manufacturing chops to produce what the Microwave industry once dubbed "Impervulite" - a cardboard square which has been an integral part of every microwave produced since 1973 (those produced prior to 1973 without the square were the subject of a very compelling episode of NOVA called "How things melt: an evening with Three-Head Thomson").

    I am suddenly afraid. What if MY square should fall out of MY microwave? Where will we get replacement squares? What if they start making microwaves WITHOUT THE SQUARES? This is not good. Not good at ALL.


    Thomas Paas
    Family Lawyer, Plumbing and Shoes Fixed While-You-Wait

  6. So this Impervulite was made of Smurfs, whom they got stoned before slaughtering them (was that really necessary? ...the drugging them, I mean).

    And now there's no more of the stuff, 'cause the Smurfs was canceled so long ago. And here I was thinking that was a GOOD thing...

  7. This SAME thing happened to us, except that ours was installed today and still has yet to be used because my husband removed the cardboard and cracked it trying to put it back in place. Our ancient microwave didn't have this cardboard insert, the manual doesn't mention it... GAH! Needless to say, The Wife is NOT HAPPY!

  8. Does this mean the microwave is unsafe to use without the silly piece of cardboard?? I did the same thing! What's it for?!