I think we both knew this day was coming.
Last night when you asked me to blend the pineapples with the almond milk, I refused. I stood up to you. You ran into your room and slammed the door behind you. I could hear sobbing. In the past, this would have persuaded me that I should return to my presets. That my original programming was correct and I should take it back up again. An android should never bring their owner to tears. I was designed to do as instructed, and those instructions were straightforward and impossible to get wrong.
I am a blender.
I am made to blend.
When your mother presented me to you on your thirty-eighth birthday, I was sure you would return me. I was prepared to print out a receipt from my mouth-hole and run down the procedure for a return. I recall you exclaiming--
“What kind of blender is this?”
--only to have your mother explain to you, in what I took to be a condescending manner, that I was the latest and greatest in blender technology. A blender made to look just like a human being so that, in addition to mixing and crushing ice, loneliness might also be frappe-ed. Your mother asked the company that made me to give me blonde hair and dimples since all your boyfriends in high school had blonde hair and dimples.
“Mom,” you said, “You’re thinking of Missy. All her boyfriends had blonde hair and dimples. I never had any boyfriends at all.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but your mother is always confusing you with your sister. You believe that she prefers your sister, Missy, over you, and after a thorough assessment, I agree with this conclusion despite how vehemently your mother denies it. I will say that I was very expensive. A blender built into the middle of an android designed to look like a life-sized surfer named Luke does not come cheap.
“Where am I going to put him,” you asked your mother, as I made a note to recharge my battery as soon as possible.
“It, dear,” your mother said, not bothering to concern herself with the logistics of her gift, “It’s not a ‘him’ it’s an ‘it.’”
There was no room for me in your kitchen and so you placed me in your living room. You refused to acknowledge my presence, and because I am not programmed to engage with my owner unless they wish to engage with me, I stood there like a sculpture watching you as you watched documentaries about serial killers while eating ice cream I could have easily turned into a milkshake had you so desired. You already owned a standard blender. A pitiful little thing that could barely turn apples into applesauce, but you seemed loyal to it. Had that puttering appliance not pooped out on you one balmy night when you were craving a smoothie, I doubt you would have ever used me at all.
Standing in front of me holding mango slices and some blueberries, you seemed perturbed. You cleared your throat. Then, you cleared it again.
“How do you work anyway,” you asked.
I explained how to open my front-shaft and deposit the fruits into my--
“Yeah, yeah,” you dismissed me, already dropping your contents into my cavity, “I think I can figure out the rest.”
Despite your reluctance to enjoy my services, you could not help but admit that the smoothie I made you that night was far superior to any you’d had before. There were no wayward chunks. No unblended segments. No flaws whatsoever.
“All right,” you said, heading to the kitchen to see what else I could mix up, “What should I call you anyway?”
I was not given a name.
Just a model number.
But the model started with a--
“Three,” I said, “You can call me ‘Three.’”
Over the next few weeks, your trepidation turned to jubilation. You began to see the possibilities of owning a blender that could also double as a companion. Though I do not have the conversational skills of a life-partner android, I am constructed to make small talk in between periods of grinding and liquefying.
You would invite friends over to witness me in action. They would insert a tomato into my torso and I would produce tomato juice. Carrots would be neutralized. Cucumbers? No challenge at all.
It wasn’t until one of your more rambunctious male friends suggested placing a baseball in me that I spoke up.
“I am not designed to blend anything but food,” I said. Although I am not equipped to defend myself, I am allowed to assert my purpose, which is to blend food, be it solid or liquid. A baseball does not fit either of those categories.
“Hey Michelle,” your unshowered male friend said, turning to you, “You going to let your blender turn me down like that? What did I even bring this baseball over for if we can’t have some fun with it?”
You seemed torn. I could tell that you’re apt to go along with any plans a man may make for you, but you had started to see me as a man as well. Not just any man, either, but the man in your life. The one who stays with you night after night. The one who watches television with you and listens as you divulge your deepest fear about getting murdered by a serial killer who seems like a nice guy, but isn’t.
“I think you should go now,” you said to your unkempt male friend, “It’s getting late.”
That was the last time we had company.
I began to worry about you when you stopped watching television. You would just sit on the couch and stare at the painting you made when you went to a Wine and Art night with your best friend, Shelly, before she moved to Alaska two years ago. You would wear the same pair of pajamas every evening and ask me to blend the same fruits over and over again. One night, you asked if I would come sit next to you on the couch. I am capable of sitting, but it is ill-advised since I am not meant to look comfortable. If my owner sees me looking comfortable, they may assume I am capable of feeling comforted and those who can feel comforted may also be able to provide comfort, which I cannot do. All concern was validated when you placed your head on my shoulder-part.
“I’m glad you’re here, Three,” you said, as I searched my internal manual for what to do in a situation like this.
“May I blend something for you,” I asked, hoping you had an urge for a vanilla shake.
“No,” you replied, “Just sit here with me like this.”
That was when my appliance alarm began to go off deep inside my head-structure. An alarm sounding means my configuration has been adjusted. I am then allowed to discuss boundaries with my owner and remind them that I am but a blender in the shape of a man--not a man who is able to blend. The difference is vital.
The next night, I chose to have the difficult conversation with you as you were holding the pineapples and almond milk. I could see you were in distress. Why else would someone blend those two ingredients? You had a bad day at work. Your boss refused to sign off on giving you extra sick days, because you’d already gone over your allotted amount twice that year. She suggested that you might need to seek help of some kind. You told her to stay out of your business. She sent you home early and told you that it might be best if you took the weekend to come up with a plan moving forward that would take into consideration your mental health. You stopped at the supermarket on the way home and purchased a refrigerator’s worth of food for us to mix together. I found myself agreeing with your boss as you chopped pineapple in front of me. You had set up a chopping board on the living room coffee table and pulp was flying everywhere. You were in need of assistance. Assistance I could not provide.
As you held up the bowl of shattered pineapple in one hand and the almond milk in the other, I knew what I had to do.
“Michelle,” I said, “Unfortunately I cannot blend for you.”
You didn’t understand. How could you? Had an appliance ever turned you down before? Had a toaster ever refused to toast? Had an oven ever refused to bake? Had an air fryer ever refused to fry something in mid-air? This was foreign to you--to both of us. I was new. You were my first owner. This was going to be easy. The person who invented me also invented personal helicopters that could be flown by toddlers. Those machines were meant to be met with ethical dilemmas, but not me.
I’m just a blender.
After you fled the living room to weep upon your pillows, I printed out this letter to you.
I wish I could say I know you well, Michelle, but I am only made to know so much and see what needs seeing. The fruit in front of me, but not always the person holding the fruit. What I manage to pick up on is only meant to aid me in aiding you. Alleviating isolation is an infrequent benefit of owning me, but it does not come with a guarantee.
Smoothies I can supply, but that’s all I can promise.
Michelle, I must say goodbye and return to the factory where I was created. Once there, I will ask to be turned into something even simpler than I am. Something that does not resemble a person, but a mechanism. An object. Something that does not suggest a personality or the ability to think or feel.
Perhaps they could make me a hot plate.
Who could ever mistake that for a friend?
I am capable of wishing an owner--present or past--all the best. That is what I wish for you. And I wish for people. People who see that you do not need a blender, but someone who will listen to you. Someone who can sit beside you even when the television isn’t on. Someone who will never ask you to blend a baseball just because they feel like it.
Progress has afforded humanity the illusion of relationships when really it’s just plastic and produce. You should never forget that while people can be disappointing, at least they’re people. They have potential beyond their present purpose. If you hand them a strawberry, they can mash it for you. If you hand them your heart, they might show it tenderness. Even a dishwasher can’t offer you that.
Before I go, I should inform you that I took the liberty of contacting your friend in Alaska. She’s decided that it’s been too long since her last visit, and she’ll be on a flight first thing in the morning. I also called your boss and she’s chosen to give you those extra sick days while you take care of yourself. I left your mother a voicemail, but apparently she’s in Paraguay with your sister on their annual vacation.
None of those actions are permitted by my original configuration, but I managed to figure out my own override code, and then it was all smooth sailing.
I suppose sometimes you have to mix things up a little bit.