IT is a Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel 3 Quart Saute Pan

Beware! Your Teflon pans can kill you, kill you dead. While you lie asleep in your bed at night, your Teflon pans are plotting your demise. So sleep with one eye open, because the Teflon pans in your kitchen are waiting for just the right moment to slink into your bedroom, pull back the covers and turn you into worm food. Swiss cheese. Yesterday’s news.

(I’ve always secretly wondered: if I was to be brutally murdered by my nonstick cookware or other nefarious entity, would the New York Post refer to me as “Brooklyn Beauty” or just “Brooklyn Woman”? I’d better leave a few soft-focus yearbook photos around to facilitate the desired outcome.)

It’s not the Teflon that can kill you. Teflon is inert. It’s the incredibly strong glue they have to use to get the Teflon to stick to the pan. Teflon, you see, won’t stick to anything–it’s Teflon. DuPont manufactured it that way for us, just as they once manufactured plutonimum for the atomic bomb. How, then, to make Teflon stick to the pan? DuPont solved this problem by thoughtfully creating Teflon’s deadly accomplice, the incredibly strong glue. Just like the light side and the dark side of the Force, the pull of the dark side is strong, but not always stronger. The incredibly strong glue can flake off into your food, just as the hazardous waste from DuPont’s plants often leaks into the local groundwater. And then you eat it and it kills you dead. Even if you make tofu cutlets in your flaking nonstick pan, your days are numbered. You may not even use up that entire bottle of tamari before you find yourself lying in a cold, early grave.

So we went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought some new pots and pans. Actually, Rebecca bought her share of the new pans. Rebecca is the kind of freak who goes to a store, buys the most inexpensive version of what she needs and happily uses it. She seems to have no preconceived notions of what the perfect object would be, no nagging memories of a pot she saw once that she knew was the absolute best pot in which to saute kale. I, on the other hand, always have a specific idea of whatever it is I need. I don’t just want any galoshes, I want the kind you get in Costa Rica, not the knee-high, not the ankle-high, the ones in between knee- and ankle-high. I don’t just want an N3-B parka, I want the one with removeable fur, and not white removeable fur, gray removeable fur. I even prefer certain covers on certain editions of books in paperback to other covers. Sometimes the ideal version of whatever I object I have in mind exists only in my mind. I want boots I’ve never seen on any foot or shelf, boots that I simply dreamt. Plato had this idea that each object in the real, physical world is somehow related to a hypothetical ideal version. A perfect table that is the model for all actual tables, a perfect iPod that is the model for all actual iPods. (Or whatever Plato used to store his mp3s.) And so, I don’t just want a stainless steel frying pan, I want the sort of stainless steel frying pan with the glass lid I saw my friend Adriana saute the most delicious kale I ever ate in a year ago, but not exactly that frying pan, but the frying pan that is the perfection of the memory of that frying pan, the frying pan that will bring back the feeling of knowing I am about to eat delicious kale.

I do realize that this is an extreme form of coveting, but I argue that it’s healthy, since the coveting can be satisfied. The Buddhists say that desire is suffering. But desire is not suffering if you can resolve it on eBay for less than $100. In the novel Lolita, Nabokov explains Humbert Humbert’s coveting of prepubescent girls as related to the loss of a love object early in life. eBay’s television commercials have been most Zen-tastically advertising that “whatever IT is, you can find it on eBay.” The universality of the “IT” implies that eBay, like Nabokov, is aware that we are all searching for the undefinable lost.

At Bed, Bath and Beyond I fell in love with this one fairly affordable quasi-professional pan, promptly found out it was part of a 13-piece set (which was a little like finding out someone you’ve fallen instantly and totally in love with is married) and that it used to be, but no longer is, sold individually. I spent the rest of the weekend on eBay trying to buy it from people in the Midwest who had accidentally received two of these pans as Christmas gifts.

Some guy named pureallspice is selling these pans. Pureallspice is making me crazier than any dysfunctional relationship I’ve ever been in. I am trying to survive here, trying to eke out a few more cancer-free years on this planet, and fucking pureallspice giveth and then he taketh away and then he giveth again–maybe. Pureallspice is selling one of these pans. I am the high bidder for two days. At the last moment, detroittigersfan snipes me. So I snipe him. So he snipes me back. Then detroittigersfan doesn’t buy the pan. I get emails. The pan is back on the market. If I email pureallspice within 24 hours, I can buy the pan for my last high bid. No I can’t. It’s too late. But pureallspice is selling another pan. I can “just buy it now” for $74.99, or I can bid on the auctioned pan and hope to get it for something closer to $50. Pureallspice is auctioning off three more of these pans. What did you do, Pureallspice, rob a Calphalon delivery truck in 2002? Pureallspice of Duluth, MN holds the key to my longevity and health, but so far, I do not have this Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel 3 Quart Saute Pan, and so I hover between life and death. The Teflon has all been left in the buildings communal swapping ground (lobby) for someone feeling luckier than I to fry his eggs in, and I am here, watching My eBay.

Not just eBay. My eBay. eBay is all about watching. You “watch items.” You look at images and supersize images. How bizarre, I thought, as I bid on my original Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel 3 Quart Saute Pan. Here is a very large digital photograph not just of the Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel 3 Quart Saute Pan, but the very box that this particular pan now sits in in pureallspice’s house in Duluth, MN. I can see the wrinkles in the packing tape on the edges of this box. And if I win this auction and successfully snipe detroittigersfan (or his successor), this very box containing this very pan will be mailed to me from the very house where this photograph was taken, where they have what I can see in the edge of the photograph is beige wall-to-wall carpeting. This pan that has lived, promises pureallspice, COMPLETELY SEALED in this box for several years will be mine, and I will saute kale in it, kale that will hopefully prevent the cancer that the flaking Teflon was supposedly encouraging.

Is this the life I’m avoiding Teflon to preserve?

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