Monday, February 24, 2014

beep beep beep, Beep Beep Beep, BEEP BEEP BEEP!

I went to Mom's for supper, which she fixes early, around 2pm or so, the other day. She was making spaghetti and meatballs. "This is gonna be the best spaghetti sauce I've ever made" she confidently crowed. Why it was gonna be the best was never completely explained, but it had something to do with the fresh garlic, onions and peppers she was adding, I think.

 She also had some "gourmet" meatballs she was going to use. They were raw but pre-made from the "fancy" market, not that "dump" down the street where the poor people shop.

She was also using whole wheat noodles, which, although I now prefer gluten-free pasta (pasta made from both corn and rice seems to me the most like wheat in taste and texture), I would have to go along with it, as I had failed to bring my own spaghetti noodles with me yet again.

As she prepared the meal, I waited patiently by reading a book and glancing at the television in the living room. Then a strange but somehow familiar burning smell reached my nostrils. As smoke began to fill the house I ran to the kitchen.

Mom has an electric smoothtop stove. There are no electric coils on the surface. This makes for easier cleanup, naturally, but also makes it possible for someone such as my mom to place another appliance atop  one of the stove burners with relative ease, as the stove top is as flat as a table.

I've seen her do this numerous times, mostly when she uses an electric skillet with a plastic bottom. She'll place it on the stove top along with whatever else she cooking on the stove, right over one of the burners, I guess so she'll have all the various parts of the dish she's making at hand as she works. Not that she doesn't have counter space, but most of it is is taken over by other small appliances or containers, all of which have a "red" theme going. She is currently missing a microwave, because she had to have a red colored one, and, not finding one at the local stores, ordered one by catalog, and though it was by some no-name manufacture, and only 900 watts, the important thing, I think you'll all agree, was that it was red! It stopped working within 6 months. Mom has yet to get a new one, and though I offered to buy her one, she went crazy at the suggestion, telling me not to dare get one because it wouldn't be red to match everything else in her kitchen.

The spot on the counter formerly taken up by the microwave is now occupied by a very large (red) toaster. It is where Mom should have had her electric skillet thing plugged it. This time she was cooking the meatballs in it. Only instead of the meatballs, the skillet itself was "cooking", burning and melting. As I got to the kitchen Mom had begun yelling. Now, when I first witnessed the mess that the stove top had become, I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. There was running, oozing red stuff all over. It could have been spaghetti sauce, but it was a little too standard red to be something edible. Then I identified that smell as burning plastic. Instead of turning on the skillet, Mom had turned on the burner below it. 

"What's going on?" I asked.

Mom was in quite a state. "I turned that on" (pointing to the knob for the burner) "not that" (pointing to the electric appliance sitting on the stove, in which the meatballs sat). As poisonous fumes surrounded us, she moved the electric thing to a back burner. That's when the smoke alarm went off.

The beeping seemed to get louder and louder. Choking on deadly smoke, I did as Mom instructed and began waving a placemat around the smoke detector. When that didn't stop it, I opened the back door for some more air. Mom stayed by the stove, seemingly immune to the toxic chemical cloud that now filled the kitchen and much of the rest of the house. Finally, the beeping stopped.

After a few minutes outside in the backyard, I decided to risk going back inside. The smoke had cleared enough for me to return to the living room and resume my lazy afternoon of watching Brady Bunch reruns and reading a stack of old Richie Rich comic books. 

Soon however that smell returned. As smoke once again filled the house I ran to the kitchen once again.

"Dammit to Hell!" Mom screamed.

She had done it again. Melting red plastic once again spread over the stove top.

"I don't understand it! I've never done that before!" she shouted.

Technically she was right. Except for that time she set the inside of the oven on fire, and that time I let myself in, saw smoke everywhere, ran to its source, saw a tea kettle that had run out of water burning on the stove, actual flames shooting up all around it, and found Mom in her bedroom, oblivious to it all as she watched television while laying on her stomach.

The smoke alarm was beeping again. Nothing seemed to stop it this time. I finally had to remove the battery to get it to shut up.

After the meatballs were done cooking, Mom took her red electric skillet and threw into the trash bin.

"I'm never using one of those again" she declared.

I took my food into the living room. Mom doesn't have a regular dining table, not one she'll let you use, anyway. The official dining room table is decorated with fancy place settings and she doesn't want anyone, especially me, messing it up.

Mom asked how I liked the food. I didn't mention the meatballs I had hidden under the couch after taking one bite. They were awful. Later, as I snuck them outside and into the trash, I swore to myself that I'd never eat those again.


  1. My wife can only eat rice pasta as she's allergic to wheat and corn. As for the sauce, lemme know if you want various recipes for pasta. I got quite a few; some of which may leave you addicted.

    1. I like rice pasta too. And yes, I'm going to be making some pasta dishes of my own, so I always am in search of good recipes. Thanks, T.C.!


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