It's not about the house.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Earth, Air, Water and... What Was That Other One?

Like I said: for about a year the Countertop Army provided our MREs. Then one day, out of the blue, Andy showed up with this astonishing device.

I never did find out what it was called, I don’t even remember what it looked like anymore, but this device’s job was to find out at which point along the way the electricity stopped flowing. Andy poked some part of it into some part of the stove, and either the little needle wiggled, or it didn’t.

In this manner, Andy determined that one more of the stovetop burners could be made to work, and one of the oven elements as well. He went to the store and bought some things – he didn’t even let me give him any money – then he came back and did some things. (I don’t know what; I don’t know what; stop asking.)

More yucky stuff fell out the back. I have nightmares about the things I saw beneath the burner pans. But sure enough, after a few hours of fiddling and a couple of beers, we had a big burner that worked, and an oven-space that actually got hot! For dinner that night I made a giant baking pan of mac-and-cheese, and it was the best goddamn meal I ever tasted. I even, because I was feeling all big-hearted and grateful, left some in the pan for Johnny.

I could now – after a lengthy year of having to wash eighteen appliances for every meal – make an entire supper in a single dish. And that is huge. I could make casseroles with everything, bake fish with peas and scallions, roast pork with potatoes, even heat up a cookie sheet of Totino’s Pizza Rolls (my favorite!). But baking macaroni is not exactly baking, and I still couldn’t bake – cookies, breads, pies, what-have-you – because I couldn’t, not by a long shot, rely on what that single element might do at any time.

That’s okay. We still had the bread machine. And it turns out they sell cookies at the store.

* * *

Every year, we go to my parents’ for Thanksgiving, but every year we buy a turkey anyway when they’re on sale. Stick it in the freezer, have it in January sometime when we’re all snowed in. It didn’t snow that year until February, by which time we almost forgot about the bird. Or I did, at least.

Johnny remembered. He pulled it from the deep freeze one Friday afternoon and set it in a metal bowl to thaw. We woke up Sunday morning, threw a bread in the bread machine (washing one extra appliance is worth it for a loaf of crusty French), tossed the turkey in the rehabilitated oven, and settled on the couch in our pyjamas – me with my newspaper, Johnny with cartoons, the two of us taking turns adding logs into and poking at the fire. We aren’t real big subscribers to the baste-every-twenty-minutes school of Turkey Cookery, so all we had to do now for our dinner was wait.

After a couple hours, it started to make those popping noises turkeys make so well. Hiss... POP! … Ffff… FOOM! …Hhhh… HOW! We checked on it, basted it once, turned it assways, sat back down. Old Tom kept right on cooking. Hiss... POP! … Ffff… FOOM! …Hhhh… HOW!

A few more hours later, his cartoons and my newspaper spent, Johnny and I wandered out into the kitchen. Turkey was done. Roasted to golden perfection. Maybe just a little dry, but hey, better overcooked than under, right? There are enough germs floating around this kitchen as it is. We took it out and set it on the stove to rest while Johnny tended to the mashed potatoes.

Hiss... POP!

Huh. That’s odd. Must be some grease left in the oven. Oh yeah, that’s right, better shut it off. Johnny, would you? There we go.

Ffff… FOOM!

Huh? That’s very odd. Johnny, are you sure you turned the ove—


There was an arc of … something. To this day I don’t know if it was electricity or fire, but an arc of definitely something shot across the room directly in between myself and Johnny. From the stove all the way, more or less, to the facing wall. Johnny and I gaped at each other like cartoon yokels and then I, being closer to the cellar door, made the mad dash of my existence.

Down the stairs, across the cellar, over to the breaker-box in 2.5 seconds. Throw the switch, kill the juice, then sniff the air. I don’t know if that tingle I feel is actual voltage or simple adrenaline, but I’m fairly certain I do not smell smoke. No. I’m sure I don’t.

“Johnny?” I holler. “Everything okay up there?”

“Yes, love,” he answers. “That was… Huh.”

Indeed it was. But, somehow, both we and the AssVac seem to have survived.

I think I’ll leave that breaker off, though. Just to ensure that we don’t hurt ourselves.

Next: the renovation begins!


Sparkle Plenty said...


This line from a few posts ago REALLY made me laugh (everything else does, mind you--this just gave me a vivid mental image):

“This switch stays off to insure that Rita doesn’t hurt herself.”

(I share your bad reaction to "insure.")

Vanessa said...

THANK YOU for this story! You made me laugh so hard and loud the S.O. came down the hall to check on me! Let me tell you, he's not exactly the 'loving' sort, so this was a HUGE deal. Thanks for making my day, yet again this week!

jen said...

okay. maybe i was wrong...angie would have just taken out her gun and shot the stove. Breakers, her ass.

EGE said...

Oooh, now I WANT to be Angie! I could shoot the stove! If I had a gun...

Khurston said...

oh yea, that's what the world needs. you with a gun.

theotherbear said...

I'd have probably wet my pants in fear rather than bolt for the breaker.