It was a typical Sunday afternoon. Jeff and I returned home from church, my 92-yr.-old father-in-law in tow, for dinner.
The perfectly baked ham came out of the oven just in time to put in the fluffy dinner rolls. I was shredding the lettuce into separate salad bowls while my husband prepared the mashed potatoes. The sweet corn was bubbling gaily away on the stove’s front burner and the ham broth was simmering, awaiting the perfect moment to add the necessary thickening to turn it into the rich, brown gravy Jeff was famous for.
The dining room table was set and the water glasses filled while Dad patiently waited, seated in the living room in his favorite tilt-back chair. The timer rang, so I stopped my other tasks to remove the lightly browned rolls from the oven, carrying the tray to the nearest available counter space. This happened to be the edge of the sink, where they precariously balanced while Jeff helped me scoop them into a serving dish.
“Ouch, what was THAT?!” I exclaimed as I grabbed the back of my neck, dropping the tray into the dirty-dish-filled sink. Confused, we simultaneously observed a kitchen that looked like it had been attacked by a mad graffitist. Brown liquid streams and droplets adorned every possible surface surrounding us. I gaped in horror while I surveyed the holocaust enveloping us. My eyes darted from one end of the small kitchen to the other, taking in the improbable scene: curtains, cupboard, sink, stove, refrigerator, magnet board, stereo, medication bottles, toaster, salads, rolls, breadbox, pictures, wallpaper all were affected. Not to mention the clothes we were wearing were wrecked with grease spots, as well as, the back of our hair.
“Fortunately, we were facing away from the explosion and we did not get seriously burned,” I commented, numbly.
“Hey, it looks like Godzilla threw up,” was my husband’s response. “I take it this means dinner will be later than usual?”
“No, it will actually be earlier,” I retorted, “because you’re going to drive to Burger King and get take-out.”
“Aw, come on honey, everything isn’t wrecked and I’m hungry,” he whined.
Eyeing the water-soaked ears of corn and the soggy dinner rolls in the sink and the brown-spotted salads, I gave him THE LOOK.
“Okay, okay, I see your point,” he conceded. Then, “Oh, no! Look at the ceiling!” Then, “Watch out, the floor’s covered, too!
We both stepped back to take a better look and I stared in disbelief, as if in slow motion, we both slid into an impromptu embrace, clutching each other for balance.
“What’s going on in there?’ queried Dad, from the living room. “Did a bomb explode or something?!”
“Well, now we know he can hear SOME things,” I quipped to my slippery spouse.
“Er, Dad, I think we have a change of dinner plans,” I shouted, grabbing dishcloth, towels, and napkins. We proceeded to remove our shoes and I tried to sop up the worst of it, while Jeff picked up the now empty saucepan from the back burner.
“Unbelievable! The broth exploded from this small pot. How in the world did that happen?” he mused.
“Uh, Jeff, I could use some help down here,” I reprimanded, on my hands and knees with soap and water rags.
“Honey, maybe you should start with the ceiling,” he calmly suggested, viewing the drips hanging from each of the Styrofoam-coated tiles.
Sliding a chair across the newly washed floor, I managed to reach the ceiling and tried to clean the tiles, with minimal success. Any leverage just pushed them up into the expanse above. Added to that, the Styrofoam flecked off instead of the stains. Realizing the exercise to be futile, I instead tackled the wood surfaced trim above the sinks, using a tiny stepstool usually reserved for our young grandchildren.
“Jeff!” I exclaimed, as the stool began sliding from under me. Banging my elbows on the edge of the sink, he reached me just in time to catch me, lowering me gently to the floor.
Four hours later, a freshly washed kitchen began to take shape, the dining room table was cleared of fast-food wrappers and debris, our clothes were changed, and Jeff was transporting his dad back home while I collapsed into the nearest den chair.
“Hello?” I just managed to answer the ringing phone.
“Hey, Mom. I just found the neatest recipe for ham gravy—want to try making it together tonight?”
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