Someone asked me if I was cooking for Thanksgiving this year.
No. No, thank you. And here's why:
I've never been shy about owning my culinary shortcomings. I dislike cooking, prepping, planning, cleaning, stirring — basically all the -inging of trying to feed others or myself.
I'm the first to look for convenient shortcuts and the first to sign up for pitch-ins (as infrequently as this introvert goes to pitch-ins) so I can get the slot to procure napkins or potato chips. Please, please, don't make me cook for acquaintances and strangers.
I've burnt things, undercooked things, undercooked while burning things, misread labels, dug directions out of the garbage for the 12th time because I can't hold a three-step process in my head, and forgotten I was cooking altogether and set fire in the oven.
I may or may not have accidentally killed a raccoon from throwing one of my sloppy disasters out the back door.
But the other day, folks, I hit a new height in kitcheny mishaps.
My presence wasn't even required in the kitchen.
There was no appliance on — oven, toaster, stovetop, or otherwise. The microwave lay quiet, silently hoping I was done for the day and wouldn't explode something inside.
The hubs and I were in the living room when we heard two loud pops. Since we were watching Hawaii 5-0 (or some other cop show with frequent gunfire), it took me a second to realize the sound wasn't coming from the television.
Next culprit: Cats. One of three. Or a duo. Or they'd teamed up against the formidable Little Miss Muse, and that 'pop-pop' was her throwing Molotov cocktails concocted from purple glitter bottles to escape their feline fury.
But a quick headcount revealed all three kitties equally startled by the popping.
So I investigate. Kitchen. Hall. Office.
Can't find anything. Figured Little Miss had been clomping about in her lavender stilettoes and banged into a wall. Or, more likely, a backfiring car had zoomed through the neighborhood.
I open the fridge for a water.
And there. On the bottom shelf.
Two out of three biscuit cans had given up, doughy puffs oozing from their seams. One can literally blew its top off. I don't know how long those cans had been in the fridge — I didn't check the expiration date. I figured I'd stored them wrong, or perhaps I insulted them as I took them from their quiet grocery store cooler and placed them in my cart. Maybe they sensed their fate in B.A. Paul's kitchen — half of doomed for black, crunchy crusts, the other half scalded but raw in the middle.
And they cried "Uncle, Uncle" before I could get my hands on them.
There was one can left. Standing silently by its fallen comrades. I tossed him in the garbage, too, lest he blow his bottom off and bust open the gallon of orange juice in biscuity protest.
To three a.m.
To that sweet, sweet spot in the night when you know you're asleep, comfortable. Stress dream-free, even.
Then three cats.
One after the other.
On my head.
On my stomach.
At my feet.
In tribal agreement that something was amiss.
And Little Miss. On the headboard. Tsk, tsk, tsking me for even thinking she could be at fault for any of this. "It's just not my style."
"Yeah, right." I throw off the cats and the covers and the five of us stagger down the hall following the beam of my phone's flashlight until I reach the kitchen and
I cringe as I reach for the light switch, positive that the slightly moist, certainly squishy thing beneath my foot is Stella Marie's latest hairball.
As the kitchen floods with light, I'm relieved, then confused, then confused some more as I discover a perfectly round, raw biscuit under my toes.
My eyes adjust to the bright. I see more biscuits.
On the floor next to the garbage can.
On the floor in the middle of the kitchen.
On the countertop fifteen feet away.
The cats appeared confused and still slightly poofed from their startle. But I still wondered if they had something to do with this. Maybe pilfered the trash for the first time since their adoptions. But there were no teeth or toe marks in these biscuits. They just blew utterly, wholly, out of that one lone can that had survived the refrigerator.
I gather the dough, toss it back into the garbage, toss the cats a few treats in apology that I'd disturbed their slumber. Thanked them for alerting me to the impending danger of flying dough balls.
"What about me?" Little Miss stood in the hallway, blocking my return to my nice, warm bed.
"What about you?" I tried to nudge by, but she'd have none of it. I was in no mood for drama at three in the morning.
"You blamed me for the whole mess."
I sighed and went to the office where I keep a hidden stash of grape bubble gum for such occasions as this when Little Miss pitches a fit.
She took the offering, shoved three pieces into her mouth, and nodded in acceptance of my apology.
It was my fault, after all.
Blowing up those biscuits.
I didn't store them right.
I was too rough when I unloaded the groceries.
I threw a can in the garbage where the dough rose and rose until it erupted all over the kitchen.
All my fault.
I settled back into bed. Just as that sweet slumber began to wash over me — POP, CLACK, POP, CLACK, POP.
Miss Muse. Grape bubbles. High heels on the hardwood.
"But I'm awake now."
"No, please." This is my fault, too. Little Miss's neediness at all hours of the night. I've ignored her for too long. "Please. Not now."
She put her lips nearly inside my ear canal, her hot grape breath washing over my cheeks. "I’ve got a story idea—"
So, for this and many other instances like it, I shall not be cooking for Thanksgiving this year. My kitchen needs a break. Our tastebuds need to regenerate from the last meal I attempted. The cats can’t handle it. I’m exhausted from the care and keeping of Little Miss Muse.
And I’m out of grape bubble gum.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all — no matter how you celebrate or what you may blow up in the process!