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The funky microwave at my Seville apartment

Spring 2001 —

I kept feeling a stinging on the skin of my arm when I set it on the metal rim of the formica-topped metal table on which the microwave sat.

No explanation made sense. It felt like some effect of the surface of the metal, hooking small hairs and pulling them. Slightly painful; just slightly.

I mentioned this to a guest when we were sitting at the table. He promptly stuck his tongue to the table's metal rim. We discovered that it was delivering a low-level shock via contact with the metal bottom of the microwave oven.

Peter, my new flatmate, showed me the trick for operating the microwave.

Juan, the property manager at "Roommates Seville" had shown him.

One of the two little plastic tab-hooks holding the door shut had been broken off and glued back on.

You had to hold the "open door" bar in when you closed the door to keep the end of the hook from having to push its spring-loaded catch downward. Otherwise you'd risk breaking the hook again, and then the oven wouldn't work.

Fine enough. For the price of the fact that everything wasn't all up to scratch, I got an apartment without scrutiny of my legitimacy. (I'm American, so I didn't really have any legitimacy in Spain.)

Of course, a few months later, I broke the microwave's doorhook. My flatmate Marie, a French woman who'd moved in there during the month that Peter was still in town, told Juan that the microwave was broken. Juan told her that he wouldn't charge us for it, but that we wouldn't have a microwave.

Jan, a German who would pass through there later, called Juan "a little wanker" with special emphasis on the syllables of the word "lit-tle."

When I got money from the restaurant and went to pay rent, I asked Juan if he knew where to get superglue. I had him describe to me how to get to the shop where I could buy it.