One more crack about burnt toast, Mr. Smith, and you’ll lose a perfectly good wife! What do you expect from an old toaster like ours?
This isn’t just about the toast, one suspects. In two succinct lines, Mrs. Smith has implied that:
1. She’s sick of his horrible jokes.
2. She, in contrast, is “perfectly good” – unlike him and his rude cracks about the food.
3. He has not supplied the home with sufficiently shiny and new things. In fact, it is quite a flophouse – and he’s lucky she didn’t elaborate.
So what will Mr. Smith do? Apologize? Offer to have a balanced and therapeutic discussion? No – it’s off to the appliance store instead, where spending money makes everything right again. Mr. Smith turns to the psychologically wise salesman, who has a bunch of shiny things to unload on the customers. Mr. Smith plays right into his hands, in fact:
We’re having toast-trouble at our house. If you’ve got a toaster that couldn’t burn toast on a bet, that’s the one for me. [Translation: I need a toaster that so fool-proof that even Mildred can't louse up the toast.]
Ah, toast-trouble. It’s a common marital problem. Next will come the revolt of the rissoles, the kitchen-counter-revolution and, finally, the dinner-hour casserole catastrophe.
So Mr. Smith brings home a Toastmaster and says to the strangely-radiant Mrs. Smith, “This ought to solve the problem, dear.” [Translation: This ought to shut you up. I hope. Although my jokes about burnt toast really were very funny.]
And yet – the next morning, she comes out with this very curious statement. Not unadulterated coos of joy about her marvelous new Toastmaster toaster, oh no:
“John, I can’t bear it! You’re mild as a lamb every morning. What’ll I do, now that you don’t have burnt toast every morning?”
What does she mean, what’ll I do? Did she like the burnt-toast jokes after all? Maybe that toast-trouble was keeping things – exciting. Time to break out the emergency box of Rice Krispies.
[Horrifyingly big version here, from Life, February 19, 1940.]