Adelaide: I walked into Harvey Norman and counted nine rows back from the front of the store.
I sat and stared at lots of Breville ‘toasting products’ with names that basically/hopefully told you what each product did.
The first thing I saw was ‘The Crispy Crust’, which seemed like a small submarine or maybe a pod that you could fly somewhere.
The Crispy Crust/pod looked like this:
I touched The Crispy Crust and thought: ‘like to have me one of these bad boys.’
I messaged Olivia and said, “Imagine what we could do on one of these bad boys.”
Olivia messaged back and said, “hahahaha omg we could do anything.”
Across the store there was a man looking into a hole in the roof.
No one seemed to think it was strange that a man was looking into a hole in the roof, but I watched him for a while.
You could tell he was focused by the way his back remained fiercely rigid while he balanced on the balls of his feet.
I imagined someone/thing crashing The Crispy Crust pod into the Harvey Norman roof and getting out and being like, “Nice, headphones.”
The man looking into the hole in the roof looked like this:
Next to The Crispy Crust was a small oven thing called ‘The Toast & Roast’.
I thought: ‘The Toast & Roast.’
Seemed like a basketball move.
Or like something you’d yell in celebration after beating an opponent or something.
I imagined being an NBA player and putting the ball through someone’s legs then dunking in a backwards fashion and the first commentator saying, “HE GOT TOASTED” and then the second announcer saying, “AND ROASTED.”
A sales person came up and made eye motions at me and at The Toast & Roast.
I said, “The Toast & Roast.”
And he said, “Yep.”
Then I didn’t know what to do so I put my hand inside it.
This is me with my hand inside The Toast & Roast.
I walked on and found lots of toasters.
My favourite one was the ‘KENWOOD KMIX 4 AND 2 SLICE TOASTERS’.
It cost $169.00 and looked like this:
I remembered living at home and having a ‘four-prong’ toaster but then moving out and not being able to afford even two prongs.
One day I want to be so rich that I can buy an ‘eight-prong’ toaster without even thinking about it.
People will be like, “Hey, how rich are you?” and I’ll be like, “FOUR-PRONG RICH, MOTHERFUCKER.”
At the end of the aisle I saw this real sad-looking Breville.
The tag was all bent out of shape and there was dust on top of it.
And on the other side of the Breville all these ‘Waterpiks’ were pushed over and not doing anything.
The Waterpiks looked like this:
The saddest Waterpik was the one that was pushed over behind the ‘GROOM & [something]’ with the PREMIUM Carry Case.
All pushed over and forgotten with the bigger, better thing taking its place.
I kept walking.
I saw an air fryer and a kid with a shit-eating grin on the box eating a bunch of chips and a sign that said, “Healthy, Tasty, Fast.”
I saw a ‘Tefal Freemove Iron’ which was a world exclusive and basically an iron without a cord and had a tag line that said, “Break free from the cord!”
Someone had even invented an armband fitness thing that displayed a ‘red move bar’ if you hadn’t moved for one hour.
Like, if you’d forgotten to move for one hour then this thing would remind you.
My favourite thing in the store was this rare-ass deal where, if you bought a fridge, you got a bonus ham or turkey to put inside the fridge.
I couldn’t believe it.
What a deal!
They even had a sticker in case you couldn’t believe the deal.
The sticker looked like this:
Then I got pretty tired so I walked over to this massage chair and sat in the chair.
I let the chair touch my back and vibrate and do really fast kick things to my back.
And it felt good but it wasn’t anything like a human’s touch, like a human massage, and I thought about Olivia and how I missed Olivia, even though it had only been two nights since I’d seen her, since I’d flown to Adelaide –
and suddenly I missed Olivia so much and I wanted her to know because we do this wild thing where we tell each other everything and are super honest.
But I wanted the message to be “nek level”.
And I didn’t know how to do it.
Kept thinking of things to message but they were, like, ‘ground level’, and what I wanted was the ‘nek’ part.
So I sat there looking at my shoes.
Then I was like: ‘put your shoe in the microwave and take a photo and send it to her.’
So I did.
This is what it looked like:
While I was waiting for Olivia to reply this guy came over and asked if he could help me.
I said, “I’m just testing the chair.”
Then he looked at me.
And I said, “It works.”
And that was the thing about everything in the store.
Everything was newer and bigger and better than what had come before.
Olivia messaged me back and said, “haha dirty baby.”
And I realised I’d forgotten to tell her how much I missed her.
That I’d just sent a picture of my shoe in a microwave without the text part.
Without the ‘missing her’ part.
And I realised that most of the time I’m just an idiot who forgets things because humans have brains that sometimes do idiot things and that I’m a human.
And it made me laugh.
And I messaged Olivia back laughing, thinking how we can’t just be upgraded.
How, eventually, we will all break down and die.
And then I got up to leave.
Except on the way out I saw the Waterpiks once more.
And they were even more pushed over than they were before.
They looked like this:
And it seemed sad because it reminded me of progress.
That one day everything would be replaced.
It seemed sad but also maybe beautiful because it reminded me of everything I’d learned up until that point.
The oldest story in the world.
Oliver Mol is a Sydney-based writer. He has lived in Houston, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. He was the co-winner of the 2013 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and was the recipient of a 2012 Hot Desk Fellowship. His debut book Lion Attack! is out through Scribe Publications.