The heater talks to us. In Japanese. The heater speaks Japanese. Back in the U.S. heaters don’t talk much. I guess they don’t have much to say. But heaters in Japan are a chatty crowd. They’ll talk to anybody who’ll listen. The heater at my house never interrupts. It’s a well-mannered appliance, unlike the washing machine. When the heater wants to say something, a little green light appears on the front console. Push a button and the heater’s message is delivered to you through the remote control. It’s not speaking per se, more like email At first we thought it was cute. Every time that green light appeared on the console, we rushed for the remote like a high school girl and her cell phone. My wife reads the messages. To me a message written in Japanese script looks like nothing more than a catalog of David Beckham’s tattoos. And I have no need or interest in Beckham or his body writing. My wife, however, reads those characters as if it were her native tongue. According to my wife’s translations, the heater has been known to admonish us for leaving a window open (or, worse yet, a door), set the thermostat too high, or the most heinous of accusations: wanton disregard for the environment at the expense of our depleting bank accounts. As you can see it’s not often good news. Sometimes I’m alone when the heater decides to contact us. I feel bad ignoring it, but the reality is, we can’t seem to find any common ground. I mean it’s a well meaning heater, but it’s always complaining. I’m sick of it, really. That’s why we were surprised the other day when the heater announced that everything was great–perfect in fact. He reported that he was operating at optimum performance. It was good to know that we’d finally found a way to please it, even if for only a few brief moments.