I was thinking of a croissant with my coffee, but then I smelled toast. “Ah, toast.” This was as I got within 20 feet of the snack bar in my building at 9am this morning. I gave in to the toast impulse — I smelled it, I pictured it, I heard the sound of the word in my head — and it seemed foolish to get what I suddenly no longer wanted.
At my desk, I ate the toast. I drank water and sipped coffee but did not look at papers or compute while eating. I stared at the wall; I thought about toast.
Henry James said that “summer afternoon” are two of the most beautiful words in the English language. I cannot disagree. Yet, I’d like to add “toast” to a short list of beautiful, evocative words. Dr. Poppy, in her response to my post on snacks, reminded me of its sensuality and charm: “simple but… sustaining.”
And yet, I was thinking as I ate my toast, do writers always use toast as a detail to convey the same feeling? Is toast a cliché? Would it be possible to ruin toast for a reader, or at least subvert it?
At the last minute, she put toast under the pillow. All night, her hand worried it and not the hardened blisters on her wrist.
Their naked bodies pressed together, only Donna’s toast came between them: scratchy, buttery, and smelling of last night’s onions.
Before he tucked the dead squirrel into the shoe box and interred it behind the dog house, Little Guy lay freshly made white toast in the box’s bottom. The toast’s firmness supported the stiff body; a smear of blood seeped into the surface crumbs.
The doctor recommended toast in the sneakers overnight, to deodorize them. “And soak those feet in vinegar, twice a day,” he added. Joe would try anything.
Would the reverse also work? Could you take a noun with negative associations attached to it — like pus or viscera — and make it lovely?
Hmm. It seems easier to try to ruin something than it is to repair or beautify something else.