The savory aroma of roast chicken filled the house. I had a few finishing touches to put on my beautifully set table, and things would be ready for our guests.
Craig had asked me to make dinner for his new boss and his boss’s wife. He was anxious to spend some social time with the couple and get to know them better.
You should know I’m just plain old Rhonda and not exactly Mrs. High Society. However, I was willing to put together a simple meal and entertain for one evening.
The dishwasher was full, so I decided to put it on the quick wash cycle to make room for the dirty dishes we would have later. Somehow, I had forgotten to buy soap for the dishwasher. I could have gone to the neighborhood store and bought some. The chicken would have been fine for just a few minutes. Instead, I dug around under the sink and found the dishwashing liquid for hand washing dishes.
I lowered my glasses on my nose and read the instructions. It didn’t say anything about not putting it in the dishwasher. I shrugged and filled the detergent cup in the dishwasher completely full. That left the second smaller cup. Just for good measure, I filled it, too, and turned the dishwasher on.
Tipper, my hairy companion, wound his way around my ankles, yowling. No doubt he smelled the chicken. I tossed him a fish-shaped treat. “I’ve got to put you out soon, buddy. Our guests might not appreciate cat hair in their food.” Tipper munched his treat and didn’t even bother to look up.
I sang off-key while I finished some last minute things and got out ingredients to make cheese sauce for the potatoes. Taking notice that I needed to clean out the refrigerator, I turned around, facing the dishwasher. Soapy globs were beginning to ooze out the sides and ease their way down the front of the machine. The bubbles slid slowly toward the floor, taunting me as they got closer and closer to my freshly polished tiles. I tossed the milk and cheese on the cabinet and ran to the dishwasher, slapping my hands against my cheeks. I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I opened the dishwasher. That was a mistake. Big, billowy mountains of bubbles broke free and plopped themselves all over the floor. I ran to grab a mop, but slipped in the mess, falling soundly on my posterior. That was one time I was grateful for a little extra padding.
When I managed to hoist myself back up, I turned the dishwasher off. I felt a glimmer of hope until a pungent, smoky odor filled my nostrils. My chicken. I tiptoed my way through the suds and opened the oven door. Smoke escaped into the kitchen, and the smoke alarm screamed an ear-shattering warning. My delicately seasoned chicken had become a shriveled lump of charred carbon. I prayed to be more like Job.
Gathering my strength, I turned on the ceiling fan and opened the back door, trying to clear the smoke.
That’s when Craig walked in. He stood at the kitchen door, staring in disbelief. “What in the world?”
“Honey, Mr. and Mrs. Ames should be here any minute.”
“Then don’t just stand there, help me.”
He dropped his briefcase and picked his way into the kitchen as if it was a mine field. “What should I do?”
“I don’t know. Get some towels, or something.”
He disappeared and returned with an armful of towels. He tossed me a few, and we began soaking up the mess on the floor.
Craig stopped for a minute. “I thought I heard the smoke alarm going off when I got out of the car.”
“Is dinner ruined?”
“Yes. We could tell our guests we’re vegetarians and just eat the salad and potatoes.”
“Rhonda, you didn’t let Tipper out, did you?”
I snapped my head up and looked where Craig was pointing. Tipper sat on his haunches on the cabinet, blissfully eating the cheese I had intended for the potatoes.
It was then that we saw the headlights sweep across our drive. The Ames had arrived.
Tears welled up in my eyes.
Craig noticed. “Don’t worry. I’ll got get us something from the deli. We’ll just eat casual.”
“While you’re out, will you please get me a year’s supply of dishwasher soap?”
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