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Renting an apartment on a budget is a perilous affair. You never know where a particular apartment's particular peril will lie, but, between your new landlord, the upstairs neighbors, the next-door neighbors, all your major appliances, the heating system and the plumbing, you can be sure it will turn up somewhere.

Of the renter's perils, however, there is one, particularly insidious and universal, that I until lately had had the luxury of forgetting. And it is not with any excess of joy at my inevitably being reminded that I am motivated to describe it here, I can assure you — but describe it I will. It is the bane of most any would-be renter/cook aspiring to do anything beyond boiling water — the GE Appliances White 30 in. Electric Free-Standing Quickclean™ Standard Clean Range with Coil, also known as The Damn Stove.

The Damn Stove seems like it must be a miracle of viral marketing, though more likely it's just the cheapest pile of metal and heating elements a landlord could find and yet be somewhat assured it wouldn't burn his or her building down. What one of these things is like new I couldn't tell you, but every apartment I've ever rented has had one in it, albeit at least 10 years old. At which point, as you no doubt already know, the heating coils have absorbed a permanent burnt smell and

you're virtually guaranteed a daily minimum of displeasure with something or other, and there's just about nothing you can do about it short of winning the lottery.

December 4, 2002 4:13 PM

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