The Bum is bummed.

His longtime companion, a vintage Ice-O-Mat ice-crusher, is unwell. The hand-crank is bleeding a viscous, decades-old black lubricant, and there’s no way to open the metal housing and treat the wound.

Two years before our manual Ice-O-Mat swept us off our feet at a Burbank swap meet, we were in a committed relationship with an electric model, a little number called Number 810A (pictured above). Sure, it had been around the block a few times, but there’s no substitute for experience. We only had a year together before its motor belt snapped, only to be pronounced D.O.A. after surgery by our vacuum cleaner repairman. And before that we had shacked up with a series of other fifty-something beauties: a feisty, avocado-green Swing-A-Way; a curvy, harvest-gold Proctor Silex; a sleek, silver Rival — we loved them all, and we lost them all.

But now, after 17 years of vintage crushers, it is time to buy retail. We simply can’t take the heartbreak of falling in love with our thrift store helpmates, only to witness them succumb to the physical indignities of old age. No more May-December romances. We need a more age-appropriate relationship.

The problem is, it’s slim pickings among the younger prospects out there. They tend to be callow youths, quite unstable, with plastic parts and personalities. Some of them even advertise themselves as “vintage style,” but we’re not fooled. We need one that’s substantial, one with some stamina, one that won’t break down under pressure. Spending an average of $40 on any of these fragile, homely, high-maintenance models, just because they’re available, simply won’t do.

There is hope, though. Recently we met and kinda clicked with a Waring Pro IC70. Not much to look at, but it crushes up to 12 cups of ice at a time — about 10 cups more than all the others, for only $30 more than the others cost. We’re still at that getting-to-know-you stage … but maybe, just maybe, this could be the beginning of something real.

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