The Pledge

The Pledge

It’s Turkey Week, but let’s not go there. I’m five—just five—Couch Lady Sessions Away From a StraitJacket (SAFaSJ). And with the holiday hullabaloo, well… I hear there may be a shortage of such jackets this year, so I’m trying to behave; I need that SAFaSJ number to hold strong at five.

And you know me. I can’t even with the cooking stuff.

But do I learn?

The other day, I thought to myself, “Self, you’d like some broccoli and rice.” Something I usually don’t fix because the Hubs won’t eat broccoli and because, well, cooking.

But he had other dinner plans, so while he was golfing around, the decision was made.

Little Miss Muse told me I’d be better off calling the Mexican restaurant for rice and spending what time it would take in the kitchen on the work in progress (WIP). I told her I could handle things just fine.

(If Couch Lady happens to read this, and if she happens to click on that link for Little Miss, my SAFaSJ number will fall to four.)

Little Miss huffed away in a puff of purple, leaving me confident in my ability to pull this off. (Pull this off—like I’m attempting a souffle, a five-tier wedding cake, or a triple bank heist. This “dump and do” dish had four ingredients—one of them was water.)

My plan required a box mix (from a box, yes. Because I can’t even with real cooking), the front left heating element, a pot, a skillet, and, of course, that thing I lack most in the kitchen—attention. But I thought I had enough brain capacity to accomplish this task.

It started off just fine. Smelled good. Broccoli boiling. Rice and vermicelli browning.

Then… Poof!

That magical sphere fell over the kitchen, pumping the air full of Squirrel Brain Spores, and I left the stove. Walked away…

and forgot I was cooking.

Stella Marie, my sweet little gal, started in. I thought she was playing with one of her new toys—a feline high from the fresh catnip.

Nope. She was doing a re-mix of her “We’re All Gonna Die!” tune that she bellows out anytime she smells smoke. (By the time she’s spent her nine lives, I’ll have inadvertently burned out all her nostril cells trying to cook something with three simple ingredients.)

She’d perfected this score during the Angel Food Cake Debacle of 2022. She’d added several verses to the piece and tweaked the tempo that day.

At any rate, Stella’s alarm cleared enough of the Squirrel Brain Spores for me to declare, “You’re cooking!” (I say this out loud to myself multiple times a week, flames present or not. I also say various other phrases to myself throughout the week, but those I’ll keep to myself…)

The Hubs came in about the time I reached the kitchen to find blackened vermicelli and a charred-nearly-beyond-use skillet. The house was smoky. I’m astronomically frustrated with my lack of attention span and I’m hangry. Little Miss was huffing about. Stella? Wailing out verse three of “We’re All Gonna Die!”

Hubs looked at me, then into the smoke cloud rolling through the living room, and his mouth opened ever so slightly. I pointed the smoldering spatula at him. “Not one word. Not a single syllable.”

His mouth closed, indicating he wanted to live and maybe remain married.

Now I have broccoli that isn’t burnt and almost done, but I’m too hungry for greens alone. I tried again with another batch of rice/vermicelli, using a skillet permanently charred in the center. I decided browning this mixture was unnecessary and may result in a visit from our fine first responders down at the fire department.

Turns out, there’s probably a reason the box says to brown it. Like there’s a reason the box on that day of the Great Angel Food Cake Debacle of 2022 said what it said, too.

But do I learn?

Evidently not.

Everything but the broccoli was slightly… crunchy.

I ate it anyway.

It was also crunchy the next day. I ate it anyway.

Because I needed to teach myself a lesson: Just stop cooking.

I say the following out loud. Little Miss stands next to me, her head held high, wings fluttering to attention, hand over her heart as if reciting a pledge: 

Stop cooking.
The Squirrel Brain Spore Sphere is not your fault. It came with the house.
(and the house before that, and the house before that…)
Lay down the spatula. You’ve fought the good fight, and the spatula has melted.
Toss that warped skillet in the trash.
Buy a new microwave already — It's canned sustenance now.
Just stop cooking.

I have not brought this “problem” up with Couch Lady. If I tell her there’s a Squirrel Brain Spore Sphere in my kitchen, my SAFaSJ will drop to a solid three.  

Little Miss Muse to the rescue. She called our good friends down at El Caballo Blanco. We worked out a solution where I could visit them every day, freeing writing time and Stella Marie’s nostrils to breathe clean air.

I replaced our microwave this morning—it’s paid its dues in Squirrel Brain Spore Central with this particular operator. It, too, fought the good fight. I could hear its sobs of thanksgiving as I hauled it from the kitchen. Its journey is over. 

I tossed the skillet. And that spatula. They’re partying with the microwave out in the bin. I haven’t replaced them, lest I forget my pledge and attempt another dump-and-do under the influence of my spore-infested kitchen.

Little Miss hovers over my shoulder as I write this, tsking and flitting. Dropping idea bombs for the WIP.

And whispering ever so gently:

Better get typing... You’re only two short Sessions Away From a StraitJacket.


I am grateful for you, dear Reader. May your Thanksgiving fare turn out crispy only where the recipe deemed it necessary, and may you only need a jacket to ward against the chill in the air...

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